Grain Growers call for changes to AgriStability, advance payments

WINNIPEG — Faced with a tough international market, the Grain Growers of Canada (GGC) has called on the federal government to make some changes to programs to help Canadian farmers.

Citing an “increasingly complex and unpredictable trade environment” the GGC requested changes to the AgriStability Program and to the Advanced Payment Program (APP).

“The time has come for the Canadian government to aggressively defend the interests of Canada’s agriculture sector in China and around the world. This is a non-partisan issue and Canadian farmers need government support to ensure that we are well positioned to weather this storm,” stated GGC Chair Jeff Nielsen in a prepared statement.

For the AgriStability Program, the GGC asked that the coverage for margin losses below 85 per cent be included along with the removal of the reference margin limit. For the APP, the organization requested the interest free portion be raised from C$100,000 to C$500,000, for all commodities rather than only for canola.

The GGC noted Canada’s dispute with China has been politically motivated.

This has stemmed from the arrest of Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou in December at the request of United States authorities. Since then, Chinese authorities have detained two Canadians, who have since then been accused of espionage.

Plus, the only canola imports that have been getting into China were for contracts signed before the dispute began. New sales to China essentially ended before the beginning of January.

As the world’s largest buyer of oilseeds, China had plans to import more than 4 million tonnes of canola from Canada, the world’s largest grower of the crop. Canada’s canola exports to China for the 2018/19 crop year amounted to approximately 2.9 million tonnes, according to the most recent data from the Canadian Grain Commission.

And the GGC’s concerns aren’t limited to canola, as the organization pointed to the declines in Canada’s pulse exports to India and durum exports to Italy.

“The issues we are seeing with trade into China can no longer be said to be commodity specific. As a soybean farmer, I’ve seen my prices plummet and markets close due to the flooding of the market by U.S. product,” said GGC Vice Chair Markus Haerle.

Soybean stocks in the U.S. are near record highs and farmers are likely to increase their soybean acres because of extended wet conditions. On top of that, the global market is plentiful with Brazil and Argentina adding record soybean crops of their own.

The GGC also noted the United States government provided U.S. farmers with a US$12 billion support program in 2018 for farmers experiencing the ill-effects of the trade war with China. For 2019, the amount was raised to US$15 billion.

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