For 2021, Richardson to source pre-harvest-product-free milling oats

A new Oat Procurement Program from Richardson Pioneer will change which pre-harvest aid products are used on milling oats, which could impact oat producers on the Prairies.

Last month, a newsletter to Prairie Oat Growers Association (POGA) members contained a notice that Richardson Pioneer would be focusing on sourcing Canadian oats that have not been treated with pesticides applied as pre-harvest desiccants, and that they would be launching an Oat Procurement Program.

Jenneth Johanson, president of POGA, joined Shaun Haney for a discussion on the issue.

The program’s focus is on sourcing Canadian oats that are not treated with pesticides applied as a pre-harvest desiccant, and will be effective January 2021. The terminology leads POGA members to believe that this includes oats treated with all pre-harvest desiccants or herbicides that growers have been using, not just glyphosate, which is an important distinction to make.

“One thing to note, is that glyphosate is a herbicide, it’s not registered as a pre-harvest desiccant,” says Johanson. For some producers, they may have to make changes to their practices in order to contract their oat crop with Richardson. For others, possibly with larger acres, their practices might not change.

The new program might be a culmination of pressure from consumer demand, and the no-desiccant situation might even lead to a premium. Oats have had some good years in the past, and on Johanson’s farm in the last three years, oats have been the second most economically viable crop. So a premium for the extra risk taken on by oat producers might pay off.

Tom Hamilton, senior vice president of Richardson’s Agribusiness Operations, says the Pre-Harvest Aid Free Program “will only source Canadian oats that have not been treated with a pre-harvest desiccant.”

He says, “Although we continue to support science in agriculture and the existing regulatory process for the approval of pesticides, we decided to meet the specifications of our oat product customers. To meet these requirements, Richardson has chosen to source oats that are not treated with a pre-harvest desiccant for its milling operations.’

Richardson did however state that it will continue to market desiccant-treated oats based on market demand. The statement confirmed the procurement program stipulations apply to all pesticides applied to oats and is not limited to glyphosate.

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