Saskatchewan is asking Ottawa to increase its cash advances to canola farmers because of China’s decision to block imports of the oilseed from Canada.
The province said it is looking to the federal government for help because China’s ban has caused trade uncertainty in the canola industry.
Saskatchewan is requesting the amount of money available to canola farmers through a federal advance payment program be increased to $1 million from $400,000.
The province also wants the program’s end-of-March deadline to be extended by one month and that no interest be charged on the maximum payment amount until the issue with China is resolved.
“I’m very open to this request but I want to take the time to look at the various risk management programs that we have, including this advanced payment mechanisms,” Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said.
“I’m really looking into reviewing all these mechanisms, to see which one would be the most appropriate because our intention is to support our farmers.”
Bibeau and International Trade Minister Jim Carr were in Saskatoon to meet with agricultural industry leaders and their provincial counterparts on Friday.
“We’re hoping that within the next few weeks, we can hear a response from the federal minister on acceptance of our proposal,” Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister David Marit said.
China’s move to ban $2 billion worth of canola imports is perceived to be part of a growing rift between the two nations since Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, daughter of the founder of telecom giant Huawei, at the behest of the United States.
In Ottawa, the Conservatives are calling for a quick solution to China’s ban on Canadian canola.
Saskatchewan Conservative MP Randy Hoback said the cabinet ministers need to provide “comfort” to farmers that they will have a market to sell to this fall.
Quebec Conservative MP Luc Berthold shot back at China during a meeting Friday of the House of Commons agriculture committee in Ottawa.
He said China’s decision to ban canola imports from Canada “absurd.”
China says it has found hazardous organisms in the shipments of two major canola exporters, Richardson International Ltd. and Viterra, Inc.
-With files from Rebekah Lesko