Customers around the world are asking Canada for assurances that our supply chain will remain whole during the COVID-19 pandemic and that Canada will be an ongoing reliable supplier of grain.
These valid questions are shared by Canadian consumers. The lack of flour in most grocery stores is an indication that some believe there might be a break down in supply in the days or weeks to come.
As a leading global food supplier, the Canadian agriculture and food industries fully appreciate the importance of meeting demand, especially in light of questions related to food security.
There are strong supplies available of Canadian grain, including wheat, durum, barley and oats. Canadian farmers and grain handlers are in a strong position to meet demand in Canada and abroad. Shipments of Canadian grain are currently moving at a rapid pace with no interruptions at inland elevators or at port terminals. No delays are anticipated.
Across the country, farmers are beginning the spring planting season. It would be wrong to assume that disruptions caused by COVID-19 won’t occur, but Canadian farmers have access to the seed, fertilizer and crop input products they need to plant the 2020 crop.
We are not at risk of running out of flour, and the products we love, like bread and pasta, will remain on the grocery shelves.
There are a few key reasons why I am confident.
First, shippers and exporters, along with the businesses that support them (railways and port operations), have established protocols to minimize the risk of infection to their employees. Farmers delivering grain recently will have seen some of these measures in action, such as restricted access to elevator offices. The protocols put in place along the supply chain will help ensure ongoing operations and minimize disruptions should infections occur.
The people who work in agriculture and food value chains are another reason for having confidence in the reliability of Canadian supply. I am pleased that provincial and federal government authorities have recognized the agriculture and food value chains as critical services and infrastructure and workers in these industries as essential.
Canadians and people around the world need a stable supply of food and feed products from Canada in this time of crisis. To maintain food security, it is critically important that we create the conditions that allow workers in our agriculture and agri-food businesses to come to work and that we acknowledge their significant contributions.
The Canadian supply chain is a partnership of many players. It includes farmers, grain handlers and exporters, railways, truckers, millers and bakers. These links are all supported by a network of public and private research across the country and built upon a foundation of a strong science-based regulatory system.
The Canadian grain industry is well-positioned to help to meet the world’s demand for a secure food supply. Our supply chain is highly efficient and resilient, which is especially important and valuable during this time of crisis. Significant infrastructure investments by all parts of the supply chain in recent years have added to the strength of our system.
Delivering food and agricultural products is a priority for the industry, as well as for our federal and provincial governments. This priority and our commitment to meeting our customers’ needs are not going to change.
Cam Dahl is president of Cereals Canada.