Ag committee recommends grain bags and vacs for Ukrainian farmers, and more fertilizer production in Canada

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MPs on the House of Commons agriculture committee have published a list of recommendations for the Canadian government to support Ukraine and address concerns about a global food shortage as a result of Russia’s invasion.

The list including providing grain bags and grain vacuums to Ukraine farmers and building fertilizer production capacity in Canada.

“Today our committee released seven interim recommendations that we feel are important to support Ukraine and help mitigate the global food crisis” said Kody Blois, Liberal MP from Nova Scotia and chair of the agriculture committee. “We acknowledge that the government has recently announced $250 million to support the World Food Program and $52 million at the G7 to support Ukrainian agriculture, these are important steps and we encourage the government to continue identifying ways for Canada to lead on this important issue, including the requisite military support for Ukraine to stop Russian advances and ultimately win the war.”

The report makes the following recommendations:

  • Ukraine requires both short-term and longer-term infrastructure, because of the explicit targeting by the Russian Federation. The Government of Canada should begin work with international partners on reconstruction efforts; however, because 22 million tonnes of grain remains blocked, in the short-term, grain storage is essential. Therefore, the Committee recommends that the Government of Canada:
    • Provide temporary grain storage options for Ukraine, such as plastic grain bags directly at the farm level, no later than September 2022, to prevent grain spoilage.
    • Work with Ukraine and international partners to build grain storage facilities in Poland at the border.
    • Offer grain handling equipment (such as grain vacuums) to, in the short term, increase and speed transfer of grain from Ukrainian to EU rail systems.
  • Given the direct targeting of Ukrainian agriculture resources by the Russian Federation, the Committee recommends that the Government of Canada support the continued viability of Ukraine’s agriculture sector in the following ways:
    • Work with Ukraine to replace lost agriculture resources such as seeds, machinery, fertilizer, and fuel needed to continue farming operations.
    • Cooperate with Ukraine to help rebuild the National Gene Bank of Plants of Ukraine facility that was destroyed in Kharkiv, by leveraging Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and private sector resources and expertise.
    • Help ensure access to veterinary and phytosanitary services that enable continued and additional trade access at land borders.
    • Support Ukrainian farmers’ exports to Canada by simplifying procedures for the approval of imported Ukrainian food products by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency while preserving food safety.
    • Provide robotic de-mining equipment and expertise to Ukraine to help clear the approximately 13% of arable lands that contain mines or unexploded shells.
    • Contribute to the financing of smaller farms in Ukraine that are crucial to growing fruits and vegetables and provide the necessary tree saplings as requested by the Ukrainian government.
    • Task Export Development Canada to provide a new type of policy insurance to cover political risks when Canadian businesses export to Ukraine.
    • Support joint Ukraine-Canada projects of food processing in Ukraine and task Export Development Canada and Canadian Commercial Corporation to develop a specialized program of support to Canadian businesses willing to participate in the projects.
  • The war in Ukraine has severe consequences for food insecure and vulnerable countries that are reliant in the World Food Program. The Committee has heard important testimony on the impact of international humanitarian assistance, and the importance of building capacity in developing countries. Therefore, the Committee recommends that the Government of Canada:
    • Increase Canada’s international commitment through the Food Assistance Convention.
    • Work with United Nations countries to ensure adequate funding of FAO’s Rapid Response Plan and the Global Food Import Financing Facility.
    • Work with international partners such as Oxfam and the World Food Program to ensure vulnerable countries, particularly those reliant on Ukrainian and Russian imports, have access to food.
    • Help build domestic capacity in developing countries by using organizations such as the Canadian Foodgrains Bank to share Canadian expertise, technology and innovation.
  • The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada ensure access to affordable fertilizer to maximize yield potential, while also exploring ways to work with Canadian fertilizer producers to increase domestic production, including by encouraging and financially supporting the development of potential sources of domestically produced fertilizer to reduce Canada’s dependence on external suppliers, particularly Russia.
  • The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada address pinch points in Canada’s supply chain, such as port and rail capacity, to ensure Canadian agriculture commodities can reach global markets efficiently and reliably.
  • The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada make every diplomatic effort to unblock Ukrainian ports and ensure that Ukrainian grain can be shipped to importing countries; and that these efforts be undertaken in collaboration with the UN. This collaboration should include looking into creating security convoys with multinational escorts to ensure that commercial ships can export safely.
  • The Committee recognizes that the best way to protect global food security is for Ukraine to win the war. Therefore, the Committee recommends that the Government of Canada continue to evaluate all options in partnership with our allies to provide Ukraine with the necessary weapons, equipment, training, and heavy artillery to repel the illegal Russian invasion, open seaports and mitigate the global food crisis.

The report, published June 29, was released after the committee heard from 17 witnesses on the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including Yuliya Klymenko, member of the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, the Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine, Mykola Solskyi, representatives from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the European Union (EU), the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, and others.

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