Across the country, there is approximately 10 million tonnes of canola sitting in farmer’s bins. Prices are down, and seeding is about to start.
Now we know there is a third Canadian company that the Chinese have issued a non-compliance order.
I have been working with my colleagues to stress the importance of resolving the canola crisis. From our Conservative side, we have been working as a team to reach out to as many farmers, associations, industry reps and stakeholders as possible.
The fact that it took this long for the Liberal Ministers to appear before a Committee was ludicrous.
It was our Conservative caucus that forced the two emergency meetings, which have now led to both the Standing Committees of International Trade and Agriculture bringing forward Ministers, government officials, farmers and industry reps.
Our Conservative team was adamant that farmers get a chance to appear before a Committee. They are after all, the ones who are most affected by this issue.
The Liberals rejected our call to have an emergency debate in the House of Commons 5 separate times this week. As of right now, only a small number of MPs can speak at the two Committees and quite frankly, there are dozens of MPs who want to engage on this issue. That is why the Liberal decision to reject an emergency debate is dumbfounding.
Lask week we had an opportunity to hear from the Ministers of International Trade and Agriculture and I want to give everyone an update on what we’ve learned:
Advance Payments Program through the Canadian Canola Growers Association
On the first day of the program, which was just launched on Monday, they issued 1,236 advances for $116 million. At this rate, the entire funding envelope will be gone in a very short period of time.
Cash flow is the most immediate concern for many farmers. The Canadian Canola Growers Association is advocating for an increase to the limit on the cash advance program, which is currently $400,000. They would want it to be expanded to at least $800,000. Scott Moe, the premier of Saskatchewan, is recommending that it be increased to $1 million.
They have suggested that those advance payments be interest free and they have asked if the government would be willing to offset the cost because farmers cannot borrow their way through this.
The Minister of Agriculture said she is willing to discuss various ways to enhance the existing Advance Payments Program.
Technical delegation to China
The Ministers are wanting to send a delegation of CFIA officials and industry stakeholders to work with the Chinese and have a science-based conversation.
The Chinese have still not agreed to receive a delegation and neither Minister has spoken with the Chinese Ambassador in Canada.
At this time, the Government has no plans to send a Minister to China.
Chinese allegations of phytosanitary concerns
CFIA officials do not know the methodologies the Chinese are using to make their claims on “pests” found within canola shipments. CFIA has reviewed all the samples they have on these canola shipments and have found nothing wrong.
Even though the Minister of Agriculture said CFIA officials said there had been two significant technical discussions with the Chinese, a CFIA official later on said the Chinese have not shared any information of any substance.
According to the CFIA official, the Chinese are only making general statements and they have not had any in-depth dialogue with them.
We were also informed that the Chinese are making their allegations of certain weeds in the shipments based on photos.
The government announced the formation of a working group which included the Canola Council of Canada, the Canola Growers Associations, Richardson International, Viterra and individuals from the three prairie provinces.
The group will hep coordinate towards resolving this market access issue and will explore alternative markets, both for the short and long term.