The flax industry has had some tough years. Still recovering acres from the Triffid issue from a few years ago, this past year’s drought in the southern half of the Prairies also limited production.
SaskFlax, however, has continued to move forward and plan for success. After the annual general meeting at CropSphere recently, Wayne Thompson, executive director of SaskFlax, took some time to talk about changes in the industry and how the organization is adapting.
The first thing to note is that Canada is no longer the world’s largest flax producer. That title now belongs to the Black Sea region.
Thompson says,”The Black Sea region has started to increase their production significantly over the last four or five years and now are producing more than Canada. But that provides us with a lot of opportunities to refocus where our market development needs to happen.”
With the Black Sea region selling into areas where it might have a freight advantage Thompson says Canada can concentrate on markets where it has the advantage. “It still needs to happen in China but also we’re looking at Mexico. It’s potentially a growing market due to health concerns they have. And then of course the demand in the U.S. continues to grow and opportunities are there for the flax market.”
Marketing is one important concern, but production is another. Thompson says adding agronomist Michelle Beaith has been a huge benefit to the organization.
Beaith has been able to help out in several different areas. “Not only do we have someone there that can specifically talk to farmers about a lot of the agronomy questions they have, but also provide a lot of support to the organization when it comes to policy issues around agronomy, maximum residue limits, the things we’re concerned about not only on the farm, but with trade also.”
Beaith will also be working to show farmers how flax can improve their crop rotations.
Hear the entire interview with Wayne Thompson, executive director of SaskFlax, below: