What it will take to revitalize the market access strategy for canola

The Canola Council of Canada (CCC) recently announced a revitalized market access strategy to help prevent and resolve challenges in the future. More stable and open trade is the goal, and the organization plans to get there by focusing on how market access challenges are evolving at each stage of the value chain.

The last overhaul of the market access strategy was eight years ago, and as Brian Innes, vice president of public affairs at CCC, says, a lot has changed since then in international trade.

To address this, CCC sat down with processors and exporters who deal with international trade daily to figure out how to lower risk and bring more value back to Canadian farmers, across the whole value chain, says Innes.

Despite the demand for canola at the moment (and that it seems there are no issues with market access), Innes says they’re working on several issues.

“We’re seeing a lot of increased complexity in the world market for our products, so these are things like changing food safety standards,” says Innes. There are many different standards that a canola product has to meet, and not all markets are using the same standard, such as CODEX.

Looking back at the blockages in China, producers saw prices fall immediately. “So what we’re seeing with market access, is the more issues we have, the more risk there is in the market, and the less value that comes back for our producers and our whole industry here in Canada,” says Innes.

The numbers say it all — expert analysis estimates that this issue has cost the canola industry between $1.54 and $2.35 billion from lost sales and lower prices. That’s a huge loss of potential revenue for Canadian canola producers.

Can political decisions that affect market access be prevented, though? “There are some things that we just can’t impact, and unfortunately the ongoing situation that we have between Canada and China is one of those very high level political situations,” says Innes. But, there are technical level issues that, at times, can prevent some political issues.

Coordinating government and industry cooperation — councils, grain companies, government organizations — takes a strong commitment from the whole value chain to come up with a plan says Innes. The Keep It Clean program is one example of how all of these value chain stakeholders coordinate efforts through the Canola Council of Canada.

Listen in to the full conversation between Innes and RealAg Radio host Shaun Haney:

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