Some Farmers Fail to Think Big About the Future of Canola

This week the Canola Council of Canada released its long term objectives for 2025.  The Canola Council of Canada was bold in its plans to set the clear objectives for the industry. Is 22 million acres at a yield of 52 bushels/acre producing 26 million tonnes crazy? Is it too lofty? Is it out of touch with reality?  Some say it is entirely possible and some say, “NO WAY.”

SEE THE PLAN HERE

Some farmers took to Twitter to express criticism and their displeasure for the Canola Council contributing to lower canola prices in the future and plugging the rail system forever due to the fallout of 26 million tonnes.

Not everyone can be a dreamer, I guess.  For those of you that want to be instantly negative about change in general, I ask you to have a deeper look at the alternatives.

First, lets take a step back and consider the former goal of 15 million tonnes in 2015 (of which we blew through ahead of schedule in 2013).  Some called this goal ridiculous, outlandish and out of touch with what farmers and the industry were capable of.  Last time I checked attaining the 15 in 2015 target has also made many of you a lot of money.  If it hadn’t made you money canola rotations wouldn’t have shrunk from 4 to 3 years and acres wouldn’t be between 18 and 22 million.

With this week’s announcement the negative backlash from some farmers without consideration of the bigger picture of the industry is troubling. Many looked at the current railway issues as a reason to not dream of something bigger.  Would these people rather have the Canola Council say the following,

“In light of the current bearish commodity market, increasing basis levels and low commodity prices we have decided to do something radical.  We have decided to restrict production to 12 million acres and restrict investment in breeding programs because yields are high enough.  Lets be truthful, logistically we can only handle so much canola, we need to give other crops a better chance to surpass our dominance of the Western Canadian Prairies.”       — the Fake Canola Council of Canada —-

People would lose their minds. But is this not what you want? Don’t you want a system that guarantees farmer income and an industry that limits production growth? I don’t think so.

I firmly believe that the agriculture and oil industry need to provide production targets to challenge our two railway companies to figure out their future. Lay down the challenge, so to speak. Railways, seed companies, exporters, crushers and farmers all have a role in fulilling the targets as presented.

All industries must present challenges and objectives to stakeholders.  We all have dreams that we want to attain and the Canadian Canola industry should be no different. The last time the Canola Council set targets it worked out pretty well for the industry and especially your farm.  And that is the truth.

 

Shaun Haney

Shaun grew up on a family seed farm in Southern Alberta. Haney Farms produces, conditions and retails wheat, barley, canola and corn seed. Shaun Haney is the founder of RealAgriculture.com. @shaunhaney

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12 Comments

Kevin Serfas

The one question I have is was the 15MMT this year an anomaly or the new reality. Was it the perfect weather storm that we had across W. Canada this year that did this and we should expect to always achieve it? Just another thought.

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Ken Sarauer

I would argue that one year of greater than 15 million tonnes does not make a trend. The real question will be what will production be next year with $9 canola, I bet inputs will be cut and therefore yield. To set this new goal before they have even accomplished the old one is a bit much.

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Ken Sarauer

Maybe I am too much a pessimist or realist and I like to set goals as well, but setting goals is the easy part, getting there is all the work. With the 15 by 15 goal I always got the feeling that they where saying don’t cut rotations with a wink, but do whatever it takes to increase production.

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John Kotylak

Goals are awesome, We all know we can produce more Canola, This is coming form a guy who has been growing it since the early 70s on our farm. Shit Ill seed end to end if that’s what pays the bills. But over producing and not figuring the big issue how to get the shit to the end user. The USA has what 6 to the west coast plus the Mississippi plus a huge amount to the east yet we in Canada have two routes to the west two to the east and one north. Production of 26 36 or 56 is great but getting rid of it is the real dream. Also this years crop was made by mother nature doing the perfect storm for western Canada. Is this because of Science that got us here or is it simply a perfect season. One note in the 40 years of growing the shit their have been other years that this was achieved with old varieties.

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@RealAg_Debra

I think a lot of people just aren’t reading anything past the “52 by 2025” headlines. Trade, demand and agronomics/yield are all included in the Strategic Plan, right?
Farmers: does a 1% increase in canola’s share of key vegetable oil markets per year ring a bell? No? Then you haven’t done enough reading. Please take the time to read the entire Strategic Plan, then voice your opinions as informed ones.
For those of you who are well informed: keep arguing, it’s entertaining.

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Ken Sarauer

I would also like to add this to those questioning the criticism as seen by me and others on twitter.. I see it as an opposition party in government, by questioning those in authority hopefully they can answer the questions and criticisms’s further strengthening there argument. To say those questioning the 26×25 cant see the big picture is asinine. We must always question the motives and intentions of those in power.

For the most part I am happy with the work the canola council does, but I hate have sunshine blown up my ass by them telling us how great everything is when clearly we have a lot that could use improving.. Disease pressure is increasing every year, black leg is returning and sclerotinia and clubroot are spreading. This monster crop this year only highlights and magnifies all the shortfalls in our system, ie the rails, getting rid of the meal.etc.. This is not all on the canola councils back, perhaps none of it is. But with headlines like this it makes the producer unsure of what they are actually doing. Lotta smoke

Hopefully with a crush margin of $150/tonne it will encourage some more domestic crush capacity to reach the 26 million tonnes.

Maybe its just because I am grumpy from being stuck at home with two sick kids for the past two weeks that my bullshit tolerance is especially low..

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Sarah Weigum

I have to admit that I was one of the people who tweeted first and read the press release later, so guilty as charged, Shaun. But I also agree with Ken that there’s nothing wrong with asking hard questions, and to accuse producers who ask those questions of not “thinking big” is a bit needless. It’s usually people that are asking the hard questions that push the industry to excel in new and different ways. Of all the innovative ideas that I heard from farmers in the last year, growing more canola was not on the list. The farmers in 2014 who only want to grow wheat and canola are probably not all that different in mindset than the farmers of yesteryear who said “We could never grow canola here.” There’s nothing particularly wrong with either of those positions–those farmers are doing what works–but neither is it a particularly forward way of thinking.

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Ken Sarauer

How is this Shawn for a fake headline from the Canola Council. Little bit more realistic and not so much over the top.

“In light of our producers success in helping us reach our target of 15×15 we are going to continue our focus on ensuring canola remains a very profitable crop for producers. To help, we are going to dedicate our resources to expanding our markets for both our meal and oil products as well as research to ensure that canola remains the king of western canada. We are also pleased to announce that we are beginning to work with our industry counterparts in the other grain commissions to ensure that we all receive adequate rail service and timely movement of our products. By accomplishing this we hope to increase our production and demand to 26 million tonnes by 2025 ”

I know its all semantics but they way they worded the press release came off to some producers wrong

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Shaun Haney

I don’t think there is anything wrong with your wording at all. It seems that many believe the goals were set in a vacuum and increasing demand and solving some transport issues were not considered. If they weren’t the goals are useless and will never happen. Thanks for the comment.

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Razorfarms

I agree these are lofty goals, but something to plan for at all levels. We have to be very aware of public opinion of farmers while on these types of sites. Our words can be taken by the public and used against us.!

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Razorfarms

I think that we definitely need to have these goals in mind if we are to continue to feed the world. We need to do so in a sustainable, environmentally friendly way, keeping in mind proper crop rotations, uses of technology, logistics of handling , etc. It will be a work in progress from the whole value chain from producer to end users. I think that we also need to show human food the respect that it deserves, and be careful of how we refer to it in public forums as in John’s comment. We need to continue to promote modern agriculture in a very positive way, as it deserves to be!

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getsmarter

Hmmm. So some here think the ccc goal is a bad idea because of logistics? So whats the alternative? growing lower value higher yielding crops? C’mon people, we are smarter than that. Also, in 2012, the goal of 15 million tonnes was very close to produced. just shy of one large wind storm that probably took out a million tonnes. The 2013 crop is certainly a positive weather anomoly but the 2015 goal is more than met and will be surpassed again next year. Some here seem to want to embrace their hypocrisy even after it’s been pointed out.

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