Canola Council president provides details on shift in council priorities, activities

The Canola Council of Canada (CCC) presented its slimmed-down budget and re-directed strategy to the Canadian canola value chain gathered for the Canola Industry Days December 5, 2018, at Saskatoon, Sask.

CCC president Jim Everson took some time out of the conference to discuss what the new priorities will mean.

“The board of directors really directed that we do a full review of our priorities going forward.” This led them to do “a very comprehensive review through 2018 – a lot of consultation with different groups and so on and we’ve come up with sort of a new approach to our activities going forward,” he says. (story continues after video)

RealAgriculture’s coverage of the announcement is here.

The change in priorities reflect that canola production, and the canola industry in general, have both matured significantly since the early days of the Canola Council. There was a time when it was a new crop, famers didn’t know how to grow it, and agronomists were few and far between. With this change in priorities, council agronomists will be focused on speaking to larger groups of farmers and providing support to other industry agronomists, Everson says.

The role of the agronomists is changing, but the production team will continue to perform an important role for the CCC and the industry, he says. A well respected crop production team gives credibility in foreign markets when talking about issues, such as blackleg, and also allows the CCC to talk about domestic regulatory issues with some authority.

According to Everson, “When we go and talk to China – and we have a research program now on blackleg jointly with them – the expertise of our crop production team really comes through in keeping that market open by providing the science and the evidence base to that discussion with China. The same is true with the discussion over neonicotinoid seed treatments where we really have to come with some real evidence based data and analysis which is what PMRA really responds to because they are a science based organization.”

Canola markets have also matured and, as a result, the marketing needs of the CCC have changed. In China, the U.S., and Mexico there is not the same need to explain what canola actually is, while in other jurisdictions market development is still needed.

Everson explains how this will fit into the new priorities. “We’re going to eliminate our program that’s consumer-focused in the United States and Mexico, and we’re going to focus on what we’re going to call brand health. Let’s monitor the brand, let’s make sure that we have a presence and then if these reports come, these faulty-science based reports that kind of victimize or demonize canola in any way we’re going to be on that and we’re going to make sure we nurture and promote that brand.”

This new strategy does not directly address the concerns of Richardson International which, pulled out of the Canola Council in early 2018. Everson says though, that the priorities outlined by the CCC, and the direction it is going in should find favour with all the players in the value chain.

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