VIDEO: Cereals Canada urges Canadian trade action against Italy

The top executive with Cereals Canada says it’s time for Ottawa to launch a formal trade challenge against Italy over its treatment of Canadian durum wheat.

Cam Dahl, executive director with Cereals Canada, said Ottawa has raised concerns in Europe and Italy regarding an Italian policy that requires country-of-origin labels to be attached to pasta and other food products made from Canadian durum.

However, it’s time to take the next step and launch a formal challenge against Italy’s policy, he said.

“We’ve had very strong support (from the federal government) … on these issues,” he said.

“But I think at this time we need to start taking the next step and giving notification that we will be challenging the country-of-origin labeling regulations, whether that through CETA (the Canada Europe Trade Agreement) or the WTO (World Trade Organization).”

Dahl said the Italian labelling policy is already having a noticeable impact on Canadian durum exports.

Under the policy, Canadian durum destined for Italy would need to be segregated and labelled, adding significant costs to processors and end users.

Italy normally imports 20 to 25 percent of the Canadian durum crop.

Although the COOL regulations are not expected to take effect until mid-February, export activity has already been significantly affected.

“We’re seeing today that we’re not getting new contracts signed for Italy,” Dahl said.

“The COOL regulations are having the impact that we expected; they are limiting Canadian exports.”

Dahl said the COOL regulations have been accompanied by a public relations campaign aimed at devaluing Canadian durum.

Specific attacks have been aimed at the Canadian industry relating to the presence of deoxynivalenol (DON) levels, ochratoxin A and glyphosate use. The use of glyphosate as a crop production tool has recently come under intense consumer scrutiny in many parts of Europe.

Dahl said it remains to be seen how long Italian pasta producers will be able to meet local market demand without using Canadian durum.

For the time being, however, the Italian campaign is having significant impact on Canada’s export programs.

“When you’re looking at a significant reduction or removal of 20 to 25 percent of your market, that’s going to have an impact,” Dahl said.

“We’re going to be pushing the Canadian government to challenge this activity because it is going to have a significant impact on our ability to export.”

Dahl said it’s difficult to predict what impact, if any, the Italian regulations will have on seeding intentions in Western Canada’s durum growing regions.

“That’s going to be a hard question to answer because … how many of these market access issues are Canadian producers facing?” he said.

“The same guys that are growing durum are also looking at growing lentils and (dealing with) the protectionist activities of India.”

“We’re facing a lot of these issues right now and they’re all going to have an impact,” Dahl said.

Market access issues are “probably the biggest issue facing our industry going forward,” he said.

Contact brian.cross@producer.com

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Comments

  • Denise

    Personally, I want country of origin labeling (COOL). I buy Italian noodles and would very much like to know where the wheat came from. if it is desiccated wheat, (that is sprayed before harvest with glyphosate),I won’t buy that product.
    My health is more important than supporting a Canadian product which refuses to give full disclosure. Labeling is necessary and important to the consumer.

    • dario

      I completely
      agree with you, the problem is much simpler than you think, stop doing
      treatments in all crops with glyphosate and when you will be at contents
      of 0.1 ppb you will safely export your grain, simple !!!

  • Denise

    Isn’t Italy the customer? They are not forced to buy your product if it doesn’t meet their standards. Obviously, the chemicals you spray on your crops are not acceptable to them. You want them as a customer then start listening to them instead of buying into to the agro-chemical companies’ propaganda here in North America.
    Canada used to grow wonderful high quality durum wheat and it can do it again. But for gawd’s sake, don’t ruin our reputation by trying to force them to buy this inferior substitute.

  • Marc

    “Canadian durum destined for Italy would need to be segregated and labelled, adding significant costs to processors and end users.”

    Bullshit.

    Just another scare tactic, this time from Cereals Canada, to rally behind false assumptions of huge extra costs to be borne by farmers.

    Same kind of rhetoric being spewed out against necessary labelling on foods containing gmos.

    Get with it; consumers demand to know what they are eating and so if you’re using practices/products that can likely be detrimental to good health, then find ways to drop them. Don’t try bullying your way into a legitimately resistant market by hiding behind trade challenges and other coverup activity.

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