The ability to stay within maximum residue limits (MRLs) can make or break a grain deal.
Export markets keep a keen eye on whether imported crops meet specific tolerance for disease, toxins and pesticide residues, and MRLs play a key role in facilitating trade and establishing the ground rules for global market accessibility.
Earlier this week, RealAg Radio host Lyndsey Smith caught up with Pulse Canada’s Greg Bartley to talk about the industry’s Keep it Clean program and the work it does to help growers navigate the demands of different markets around the globe.
Keep it Clean is a joint initiative of the Canola Council of Canada, Cereals Canada, Pulse Canada and the Prairie Oat Growers Association. The key focus is to provide growers and crop advisers with resources for growing market-ready crops. This includes providing timely updates on potential market risks and resources for on-farm practices to ensure crops meet the standards of domestic and export customers.
From a Pulse Canada perspective, Bartley says the industry received a wake-up call on the importance of MRLs around 2012, after a high-profile, non-compliance issue with the European Union related to glyphosate on lentils. At that time, there was no MRL established for lentils. “That’s been resolved, but it really put a focus on our need to pay attention to all of our export markets and the MRL requirements.”
Bartley describes where Keep it Clean fits strategically as part of a short-term, medium-term and long-term approach to help manage pulse exports that travel to more than 130 markets.
“All those markets have the potential to have a different MRL policy so we look at those different policies to try to determine which ones are problematic or not,” says Bartley. “If we identify that a crop protection product in use here in Canada is going to cause a non-compliance in an export market… this is where we start to get into gear and do that short, medium, and long-term approach.”
Keep it Clean is really the short-term approach, says Bartley. This includes identifying potential MRL problems in importing countries and the need for growers to connect with buyers to determine whether crops are destined for these markets and having them redirected to a less sensitive market.
Efforts are also directed to work with companies that register products to establish MRLs, and to fix or raise MRLs to reflect the level seen in Canada. Long term, efforts are focused on “getting MRL harmonization right across the board in all of our export markets,” says Bartley.
In the interview below, Bartley and Smith also break down the range of information Keep it Clean makes available to growers and how to access these resources.