Statistics Canada expects 21.3 million acres of canola will be seeded in 2019 throughout the country, down 6.6 per cent from last year. In Saskatchewan, the number of acres planted is forecast to decrease by 5.7 per cent.
StatCan blames some of the decline on the trade dispute with China, which claims recent shipments of Canadian canola have been contaminated. Federal officials dispute this claim, saying there is no evidence to support it.
The Chinese market for canola sales is valued at around $2.7 billion to Canadian farmers. Ottawa is attempting to end the dispute while also looking for new markets.
“The trade department is obviously pursuing every possibility of other marketing alternatives that can be developed, (however) that takes time, but, they are working through a list of other sales opportunities,” Canada’s Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said.
“There’s a variety of markets that our national organization, the Canola Council of Canada will look at,” said Tracy Broughton, government and industry relations manager of SaskCanola. “So, some countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan and the UAE could all (be looked at to) import more canola.”
The trade dispute with China may be the most talked about topic for the drop in canola production, however, it isn’t the only reason.
“The markets definitely do have an impact,” said Broughton.
“But, (farmers) also have to consider their long-term crop rotations, the investments they’ve already made into their crop, and then what seed conditions are looking like in the spring. So, when you see some of the areas in Saskatchewan are dry right now, that may have an impact on farmers.”
Farmers and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe have urged Ottawa to increase the cash advance program for canola producers, to which Goodale commented, “with respect to the cash advances, that should be forthcoming, (there’ll be) news about that very shortly.”