Canadian canola set to continue flow to China as regulatory change halted

By Aerin Einstein-Curtis

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock
© iStock

Related tags Canola Export

Canadian canola can continue to be exported to China after a move to more stringent import regulations was delayed, says a Canola Council of Canada member.

Revised Chinese regulations would have reduced the amount of foreign matter, or dockage, that could be present in a shipment of the feed and oil crop from 2.5% to 1% per ton and were set to start at the beginning of the month in response to concerns about the spread of blackleg, a fungal disease that can destroy canola crops . The move had the potential to disrupt the export of the grain.

Patti Miller, president of the Canola Council, said: China has agreed to continue access for canola under current terms until a long-term solution can be found,”​ she added.

The Council is hoping that an agreement on the matter can be reached in the near future so that there can be more stability, she said. Canola is the most valuable export from Canada to China, added the Council.  

“Discussions have been ongoing over the last weeks and months,” ​Miller told FeedNavigator. “Timely interventions by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland and Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay were helpful.”

 In 2015 Canada exported 3.8 million tons of canola seed to China, worth $2bn, and accounting for 40% of Canada’s total canola seed exports.

Regulatory amendments

Officials are continuing to work on addressing regulation and concerns around blackleg, said the Council. 

The disease, also known as stem canker or phoma stem canker, is caused by a fungus and can result in yield loss when crop varieties are susceptible to it.

However, said Miller, there is no evidence that a change to the amount of dockage allowed in a shipment would decrease the potential for transmission. 

“Current discussions are about achieving a long-term science-based solution to enable stable canola trade,”​ she said. “This involves negotiations between Canada and China on science-based ways to manage the risk of blackleg.”

Exports of canola from Canada to China were stopped in 2009 out of concerns over blackleg transmission to the Chinese crop, the Council said. The exports restarted after an agreement to conduct joint research on the disease and how it spreads.

Disease mitigation efforts

The Canadian canola industry has focused on blackleg research in an effort to improve understanding of the disease, said Miller. Reducing instances of the disease would benefit both countries, she said.

“Through the research done over the last several years, we know that by rotating genetic resistance traits in a different way, we will be able to reduce the disease in Canada,”​ she said. “This is the most effective way of managing risk of transmission and requires life science companies, researchers, agronomists and farmers all working together.”

The Canadian industry has established and is now growing varieties that are resistant to blackleg, said Miller.

“Industry and growers have also invested in minimizing the disease on the farm,” ​she said. “This has involved implementing best management practices such as scouting felids regularly for disease symptoms, controlling volunteer canola and other brassica weeds to prevent blackleg build up during on-canola years, and properly treating the disease when it appears.”

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