Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canola Farmers Concerned as Stricter Chinese Import Regulations Set to Begin

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canola Farmers Concerned as Stricter Chinese Import Regulations Set to Begin

Article excerpt

Canola farmers worried about new China plans

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CALGARY - The head of a national group that represents canola farmers says they're concerned that China's plan to impose stricter import regulations on the crop this week will put them at a competitive disadvantage and clog Canada's grain terminals.

China says it will allow canola shipments containing no more than one per cent of waste product starting Thursday, compared with the 2.5 per cent allowance today. The waste, known as dockage, includes parts of the canola plant other than seeds, as well as weeds and other crops.

Those tougher restrictions coming from Canada's largest canola buyer will mean grain traders will have to pass on the higher costs of processing to farmers, said Rick White, CEO of the Canadian Canola Growers Association.

"Those higher physical costs of cleaning down to that level ... will be passed back through the industry and farmers will certainly be picking up their share," White said Monday.

He said he's also concerned the new rules will delay grain shipments going through western terminals because they will need more time to sort through the canola and clean various equipment.

The dispute comes as Statistics Canada is expecting some bumper grain crops this year, including 17-million tonnes of canola for the third-biggest harvest on record. It also could become an irritant during Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's visit to China this week.

Luo Zhaohui, China's ambassador to Canada, said last week he hopes the issue doesn't mar Trudeau's trip. At the same time, Zhaohui said Canada has been inflexible.

China is the largest customer of Canadian canola, accounting for 40 per cent of exports of the oilseed worth about $2 billion annually.

The Chinese government has said it's imposing the new regulations to prevent a disease called blackleg from being brought into the country, but industry representatives say there's no scientific basis for that.

Brian Innes, vice president of government relations at the Canola Council of Canada, said the industry is united in pushing for science-based terms, despite reports that some shippers have made deals under the stricter terms. …

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