Challenges Persist For Canola Seed Exports To China

The Canadian Canola Council of Canada is seeing very limited sales of canola seed into China right now.

Many feel China’s concerns over shipping issues with Richardson International are politically motivated and relate back to the arrest of a Huawei executive.

Jim Everson, President of the Canadian Canola Council says its clear importers in China are demonstrating an unwillingness to buy Canadian Canola.

“We have this current situation that we have to deal with but we’re very confident in the quality of canola on the international market and our ability to be a quality, reliable supplier. We would certainly hope that producers would be confident in Canola going forward.”

He says China is an important market and accounts for about 40% of all canola seed, oil, and meal exports.

 “Our seed exports to China last year were $2.7 billion dollars so it’s a strong seed market for Canada very valuable market for Canadian Canola farmers and the industry. That’s why there’s a level of concern for this issue. I’d hasten to say that we think the foundations of our trade with China are very strong.”

He says while the Federal Government has responded very quickly to Chinese concerns they want to see them intensify their efforts to resolve the situation as quickly as possible.

Everson says Canadian Canola is of the highest quality because of our world-class quality assurance systems.

Cattle Markets Improving

Prices seem to be turning around on the cattle markets.

Brian Perillat is the Manager and Senior Analyst at Canfax.

"On the feeder cattle side we've seen a bit of spring pressure over the last couple months. There seems to be some stability there, seeing some improvement in the markets in general. We've seen certainly some more interest in calves, anything destined for the grass markets certainly picked up on five and six weight steers, probably hitting some of their highest prices of the year."

Perillat adds feed grain costs continue to rise, which works against feedlot profitability.

He notes calving season is right around the corner for many producers.

"Now with guys pushing calving seasons back, the bulk of the cows probably avoided the cold weather," said Perillat. "Certainly some producers have gone through it. Hopefully, we don't have the issues we had last year with the cull cows or tough calving conditions. Keeping cow numbers at bay, we've certainly seen a little bit of strength here over the last couple of weeks too. Cull cow prices have moved up and more cows closer to that 90 cent range, which is near the highest point it's been at this year."

He notes producers are continuing to keep a close watch on the Canadian dollar, which is sitting around the 75 cent mark.

China Agrees To Meet With Canadian Scientists

There has been some movement this week from China in regards to the stopping of canola seed shipments from Winnipeg-based Richardson International.

Canada's Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau explained.

"They have finally agreed this week, our Canadian scientists will have further discussions to understand really the issue, what they have found. This is great that China has agreed to have this science-based discussion," she said.

China revoked Richardson's canola shipping permit, stating they found hazardous organisms in canola shipments from the Canadian company.

Former Conservative Ag Minister Concerned Over Canola Shipments

The Trudeau government should be doing more when it comes to clearing up the canola situation with China.

Earlier this month China barred Canadian canola exports from Richardson International.

The Former Conservative Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz recently received an honorary life membership with the Canola Council of Canada. 

Ritz says it was a real honor and a humbling experience and encouraged the group to never stop lobbying, the job is never done.

He notes the situation with China and canola export permits from Richardson International is pure politics and at issue is the Huawei debacle.

“It needs to be the Prime Minister himself making the call to the leadership over there. It means the Ministers of Trade, Foreign Affairs, and Agriculture are on planes and landing in China, in Beijing putting on a full court press. Working with big buyers like COFCO and others that can put pressure back through their own government. They’re all politically connected and it just means getting that work done on the ground.”

Ritz compares the current situation to how his government handled the issue with China over Blackleg.

“You know we had a SWAT team headed by a guy named Freddy Gorrell. Fred was on a plane that very same day into China lining up meetings for me to be there some three days later so that we hit the ground running.   During that time frame, we put Agriculture Canada staff in the embassies and consulates around the world so that they knew the files, not someone from global affairs or foreign affairs as they call it now. We also put together a scientific working group of Agriculture Canada scientists, Canola Council Scientists and Chinese scientists that came to Winnipeg and looked at the science and the work we were doing here. That needs to happen again.”

Ritz says it’s all about choices and keeping the pressure on the government of the day regardless of the political stripe to make sure they don’t forget about Agriculture - the third largest driver of the Canadian Economy.

Positive Feedback On Saskatchewan Budget

The Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan is generally satisfied with the direction of the 2019 Saskatchewan Budget.

President Todd Lewis says he’s pleased with the funding for the agricultural programs.

“There’s continued funding for our Business Risk Management programs, they could always be improved but we appreciate the funding that does come for them. You know certainly the announcement last week for the $5 million dollars for establishing c and d’s (conservation and development areas) in the province as they pertain to water management that’s another important piece that will go a long way to licensing our waterworks and moving water properly within the province.”

Lewis says they also appreciate the Province’s continued commitment to funding research and development in the agriculture sector.

The livestock industry was watching the budget closely.

The Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association is pleased to see some of the program funding coming through.

Past Chair Ryan Brierbach says he would give the Provincial Budget an A, but adds they definitely have some ideas on what we can do when the economy does strengthen.

The SCA was happy to see the province committing funds for the previously announced crop insurance enhancements.

More money was allocated in the budget for the higher coverage of hay and pasture acres, as well as the newly announced corn rainfall insurance.

He notes they were also happy to see enhancements for the Verified Beef Production Plus program.

“They’ve set up the Best Management Practices and some of the funding that is available through that. Where if you’re certified and audited you get a higher level of funding, that should help encourage producers to sign up.”

He says there’s definitely a couple of positives there and no new taxes is a positive when you’re looking at a government that’s trying to balance a budget under an economy that’s not real strong.

It's a Balanced Budget for Saskatchewan

Premier Scott Moe’s government delivered a balanced budget with a surplus of 34.4 million dollars; it’s the first time the Province has had a budget surplus in three years.

Finance Minister Donna Harpauer says the budget contains no new taxes or tax increases while achieving a balanced budget that is affordable and sustainable, now and in the years ahead.

Agriculture Minister David Marit says they’re very excited about it especially with no new tax hikes.

He says the Agriculture budget will see a 3.3 % increase or a little over $12 million dollars noting enhancements in crop insurance.

“Forage and pasture coverage we’ve upped that and offered producers a couple of different offers in that. We’ve increased corn coverage on that side of it, so we’re excited about that. Also, we’ve extended the dates for cereal fall seeded from September 15 to September 30.”

Marit notes the increase in the agriculture budget is being spent in a variety of ways to improve programs adding there’s increased funding for the Rat Control program which is delivered by SARM.

“We gave them an increase in the Rat Control program of $350 thousand which is something that their members had asked for and they asked us also for it. Obviously, we’re concerned about the rat population. We’ve seen some very good reductions in the last four or five years with that program and we want to continue to see those reductions.”

He adds the province is also committed to agricultural research noting in the global markets it’s important to stay focused on research, noting this year’s research budget is just under $32 million.

Marit says overall it’s a strong budget for the Province of Saskatchewan and it’s balanced.

Federal Budget Given A Failing Grade

The Trudeau Government had promised to deliver a balanced budget at the end of their four-year term but instead increased the national debt projecting a $19.8 billion dollar deficit.

Opposition Conservatives have been calling on the Federal Government to control spending.

Randy Hoback, the Conservative MP and Deputy Shadow Critic for the International Trade Committee says the Trudeau government’s budget is a failure.

“They’re spending a lot of money to try to cover up what’s going on in the SNC Lavalin case. Reality is they're providing a lot of gifts and a lot of things right now that we’re going to have to pay for next year and the years after when the increases in taxes take effect.”

He notes as it relates to agriculture there was money there for supply management money that was there when we (the Conservatives) were in government.

“When we did our trade deals we already agreed to supply management that we would give them compensation to help offset the losses they’d have in the marketplace due to the new trade agreements. They (Liberals) actually just now put it into the budget which really isn’t any new money it’s just basically re-iterating what we had already committed to previously. When you look at for grain farmers and other sectors there’s really not a lot in there except some talk about we’re going to look at how we do farm transitions to avoid taxation without jeopardizing the tax system."

He says they’ve tried to rehash some old things and make them look new.

“It’s fairly weak when it comes to Agriculture, but I guess it’s better than last time because last budget Agriculture wasn’t even mentioned.”

He wonders if they (Liberal’s) even have an understanding of what farming is.

“In fact, in the Trade Committee when we were talking about canola, we actually had to bring some canola to the committee to show them what it actually looked like.”

He says the reality is they don’t understand agriculture. So they’re doing things from Ottawa without talking to people who are actually at the farm gate, and they create a whole pile of mistakes when they do that.

“A good example of that is this goof up with the fuel at card locks. Anybody in agriculture knows that fuel at card locks is purple fuel, purple diesel and should be carbon tax exempt. So, how they would miss that one is beyond us.”

2019 Federal Budget Released

Saskatchewan Liberal MP Ralph Goodale says virtually every dimension of the budget, with the exemption of one or two will be relevant in Saskatchewan and very helpful.

The budget includes money for a variety of initiatives from making home buying easier to a national pharmacare plan and more money for skills training, seniors and more.

He says the broad band investment will be particularly relevant in Saskatchewan.

“Our objective is to connect everyone in Canada wherever they may live including rural and remote communities using high speed internet. We already have a number of programs that apply to Saskatchewan and this new money that’s being allocated will make these programs larger and more expansive. So, Sasktel and other service providers can reach more people, more quickly over the course of the next number of years.”

He notes the budget also earmarks $1 million dollars in funding for the Western Economic Diversification to develop a new strategy to pull all of the relevant Federal and Provincial Departments and agencies together to determine what water infrastructure we need to build in Saskatchewan to make us more drought proof and more flood proof.

Goodale says it’s an accelerating issue because of climate change. The province loses hundreds of millions of dollars in infrastructure, agricultural production and even the oil patch from issues around things like severe storms, flooding, drought and wildfires.

“Can we build the infrastructure both engineered infrastructure like say Gardiner Dam and Diefenbaker Lake and natural infrastructure like wetlands and habitat to better prepare ourselves to deal with these wide, wild variations in water supply, quality and use? Then utilize that water for economic and social developments.”

The Federal Budget 2019 also included a $2.2 billion one-time transfer from the Gas Tax Fund to pay for short-term infrastructure priorities.

He notes it was his budget in 2005 when he was Finance Minister that created the Gas Tax Fund. The transfer goes through provincial authorities but goes directly to municipalities to their infrastructure budget for things like local road and bridge projects in Saskatchewan.

Right now municipalities in the Province would receive about $62 million dollars and this year it’s being doubled to $124 million dollars for their basic infrastructure requirements.

Goodale says he’s also pleased to see a really big capital investment of $65 million dollars in STARS – the helicopter air ambulance rescue service that serves both urban and rural areas across the Prairies.

A key concern for the agriculture sector was the purchase of fuel from card locks. Goodale says the budget makes very clear that those purchases will be exempt and there will be conversations over the next few days with suppliers like Federated Co-op to make sure this is handled in the right way.

“Fuel that is used on farm, gasoline, and diesel that is used on farm in agricultural production is exempt. That is the law and it has to be administered that way.”

The Federal Budget also includes over 3.5 billion dollars in compensation for the supply managed sectors to help overcome the impact of trade agreements like CETA, the CPTPP, and the USMCA Agreements.

There was also funding in the budget for fighting African Swine Fever, infrastructure funding for short-line railways and more.

More information on the Federal budget is available here.

Canadian Pork Council Welcomes ASF Preventative Measures

Last week the federal government announced new funding of up to $31 million to increase the number of detector dogs at Canadian airports to help prevent illegally imported meat products from entering into Canada, thereby reducing the risk of African swine fever coming into the country.

The Canadian Pork Council (CPC) was pleased to hear that the capacity to detect meat in Canadian ports of entry will significantly increase with this funding.

“On behalf of Canadian pork producers, the CPC had requested that the presence of dogs who could detect the presence of meat in passengers' luggage be increased in international airports,” explained Rick Bergmann, CPC Chair. “We are thankful for the great collaboration of Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale and the increased measures that will prevent potentially contaminated meat from making its way to our communities and our farms. This will help the entire livestock industry."

In a news release, CPC noted that humans are most likely to be the ones to bring in the African swine fever virus into Canada, either by bringing in contaminated meat, or by travelling with the virus on their clothes, footwear and personal items. Although the virus does not infect humans, the group adds it is very deadly for the pigs who come into contact with it. The introduction of African swine fever into Canada would put over 100,000 jobs in jeopardy and cost the Canadian economy $24 billion dollars.

“Pork producers are thankful for all the support they have received and are doing their part to prevent the virus from compromising the health status of their herd, increasing their biosecurity and taking preventive measures,” said Bergmann. “We appreciate all the efforts put forth to prevent African swine fever from making its way to Canada,” he adds.

Canada will be hosting the first-ever international forum on ASF April 30 to May 1 in Ottawa. About 150 people from around the world are expected to attend, including representatives from China.

CN Rail Invests In Upgrades For Saskatchewan

CN has announced a major investment for 2019 to expand and strengthen the rail network in the province.

Sean Finn, CN’s Executive Vice President says they are investing more than $245 million dollars in rail infrastructure in Saskatchewan.

"That’s up $35 million dollars more than last year. That’s investments within the Province when it comes to track capacity and other investments in the rail line itself; it does not include more locomotives or cars."

He notes the planned expansion includes the construction of about 35 miles of double track near Atwater, Fenwood, Biggar, and Clavet.

"If you have double track you can move your trains more fluidly through the network. We’re also going to upgrade probably 66 miles of rail itself which will be changed out. New railway ties which is normal maintenance but also ensure that we operate the railway safely and we’re also going to redo 21 road crossings in the Province of Saskatchewan this year."

Finn says the goal is to invest in additional capacity and resilience in the corridor from Edmonton to Winnipeg.

"This time of year Thunder Bay is closed so the grain wants to move West to Vancouver. Part of our job is making sure that we don’t just get to Vancouver, but the port is fluid so we can move the grain through and get the cars back to the Prairies as quickly as possible. So, cycle time is important also."

He notes CN’s rail network in Saskatchewan connects agricultural customers across the Prairies to major terminals, port facilities, and global markets.

More Ag News

Challenges Persist For Canola Seed Exports To China

The Canadian Canola Council of Canada is seeing very limited sales of canola seed into China right now. Many feel China’s concerns over shipping issues with Richardson International are politically…

Cattle Markets Improving

Prices seem to be turning around on the cattle markets. Brian Perillat is the Manager and Senior Analyst at Canfax. "On the feeder cattle side we've seen a bit of spring pressure over the last couple…

China Agrees To Meet With Canadian Scientists

There has been some movement this week from China in regards to the stopping of canola seed shipments from Winnipeg-based Richardson International. Canada's Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau…

Former Conservative Ag Minister Concerned Over Canola Shipments

The Trudeau government should be doing more when it comes to clearing up the canola situation with China. Earlier this month China barred Canadian canola exports from Richardson International. The…

Positive Feedback On Saskatchewan Budget

The Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan is generally satisfied with the direction of the 2019 Saskatchewan Budget. President Todd Lewis says he’s pleased with the funding for the…

It's a Balanced Budget for Saskatchewan

Premier Scott Moe’s government delivered a balanced budget with a surplus of 34.4 million dollars; it’s the first time the Province has had a budget surplus in three years. Finance Minister Donna…

Federal Budget Given A Failing Grade

The Trudeau Government had promised to deliver a balanced budget at the end of their four-year term but instead increased the national debt projecting a $19.8 billion dollar deficit. Opposition…

2019 Federal Budget Released

Saskatchewan Liberal MP Ralph Goodale says virtually every dimension of the budget, with the exemption of one or two will be relevant in Saskatchewan and very helpful. The budget includes money for a…

Canadian Pork Council Welcomes ASF Preventative Measures

Last week the federal government announced new funding of up to $31 million to increase the number of detector dogs at Canadian airports to help prevent illegally imported meat products from entering…

CN Rail Invests In Upgrades For Saskatchewan

CN has announced a major investment for 2019 to expand and strengthen the rail network in the province. Sean Finn, CN’s Executive Vice President says they are investing more than $245 million dollars…

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