Ottawa Open to Further Producer Support

The Canadian government may consider further measures to help Canadian farmers if current trade difficulties with China further deteriorate.

In a conference call Friday, Marie-Claude Bibeau said her department is "open to reconsidering" expansions to other agricultural support programs, such as AgriStability – an existing federal-provincial program designed to protect against large drops in farm income.

Earlier this month, Ottawa announced a two-month extension to the AgriStability enrolment deadline, to July 2, 2019, a step that was agreed to by the federal, provincial and territorial governments to help “manage the impact of current market disruptions and production challenges facing many farm operations.”

At the same time, the government said it would increase the credit available through its Advance Payments Program to $1 million from the current $400,000 for all producers, while also increasing the interest-free portion of any loan from the current $100,000 to $500,000 for canola producers specifically.

Canadian canola producers have been particularly hard hit by the trade tensions with China, as China’s reduction in imports from Canada have allowed domestic stocks to rise and pressured prices lower. Much of the blame for the spat is being attributed to Canada’s role in the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou last December in Vancouver at the behest of U.S. authorities.

China has continued to contend that canola cargoes from Canada are being restricted because of pest contamination, but Bibeau said today China has so far remained silent on Canada’s request to send a scientific delegation to China to further investigate the claims.

"We are ready to engage in-person, and we strongly urge China to join us in finding a solution," she said.

Meanwhile, Bibeau said she also had no news on when the previously announced changes to the Advance Payments Program may actually be available to producers.

"I wish it was a matter of weeks, but it could be a couple of months," she said, adding the process is being fast-tracked as much as possible.

Just a day earlier, the U.S. government unveiled a US$16-billion aid package for American farmers aimed at mitigating the harm done by the White House’s trade battle with China that has most notably curtailed U.S. soybean shipments to the world’s No. 1 buyer of the oilseed.

Source: DePutter Publishing Ltd.

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