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Southern Alberta canola farmers reap benefits of indirect trade deals

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WATCH ABOVE: Despite the political conflicts with China that have caused major trade disputes, Canada's canola is still on top. As Emily Olsen reports, Alberta producers are getting top dollar this harvest— partly thanks to middleman trade deals – Aug 11, 2020

Despite the political conflicts between China and Canada which have caused major trade disputes, Canada’s canola is still on top.

Canola producers say they are getting top dollar this harvest, partly thanks to middle-man trade deals.

READ MORE: Demand for Canadian canola soars as shippers find roundabout way to reach China 

Canola farmer John McKee says — like other producers — he has kept an eye on how  political tensions with China have impacted canola sales, especially in the year-and-a-half since China blocked two major Canadian canola exporters.

“Throughout the winter, there were little reports of canola disappearing at a higher rate than it should be, and nobody could really say where it was going to,” McKee said.

“And now it’s become obvious they’re buying our canola through other countries.”

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McKee says he’s seeing the benefits in this year’s harvest.

“It’s a relief to see as much canola disappearing from Canada as has been,” he said. “And that is kind of driving a price rally at this time — at harvest time.”

Canola Council Of Canada officials say while the increased price is good, China’s import ban is still impacting the Canadian economy.

READ MORE: China lifting meat ban ‘a good first step’ for canola: producers association

“We’re shipping approximately a third to a half of what we normally would ship for canola seeds to China,” said Brian Innes, vice-president of public affairs for the Canola Council of Canada.

“And the Industry as a whole has rallied around getting more and better market access to places such as Europe and Pakistan.”  

The council estimates around $1 billion in total losses this year, even with other countries reportedly acting as middle men.

“While it’s true that some of the oil produced in Dubai from our canola is going to China, it’s also true that we’ve exported similar amounts to Dubai in the past,” Innes explained.

McKee says he knows Canadian canola will remain valuable to countries like China. 

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READ MORE: Canada seeks meeting with China at WTO over canola ban 

His main concern is continuing to grow and produce quality food for others.

“Food is a political issue and it seems to be easily manipulated,” McKee said.

“Person to person, if somebody in a country on the other side of the world is able to access my canola oil — my canola — I’m happy about that.”