Prairie canola farmers face uncertain market heading into harvest

WATCH ABOVE: Farmers across the Prairies are heading into their fields to start harvest. As Tom Vernon reports, a lot of them are facing a lot of uncertainty right now.

Unresolved trade tensions with China and a large world supply of canola have pushed prices for the valuable crop down as producers head into their fields for the fall harvest.

“We’re hoping that turns around — the situation with the exporting,” said Joe Bendoritis, who farms south of Edmonton.

“Canola markets are down lower than they have been in the last few years.”

READ MORE: China has stopped all canola imports from Canada, industry group says

In March, China banned canola seed exports from Canadian firms Richardson and Viterra after the arrest of Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou in December.

The country is a huge market for Canadian canola, accounting for $2.7 billion in sales in 2018. Through the first half of 2019, exports to the country had fallen 41 per cent.

“We need to make sure we do everything we can to keep the export market a viable and healthy industry in Canada,” said Wendy White, a grain marketing manger with Viterra.

The company has seen increased world exports of wheat this summer and is working to find new markets for canola. Europe is presenting an opportunity there.

“If a farmer is able to declare his farm sustainable, we can now access the European market, which was previously not available to Canadian farmers,” said White.

READ MORE: Canola farmers still uncertain about Chinese market access

Bendoritis has started the paperwork on that certification, hopeful he’ll have a market to sell his canola once it’s in the bin.

“We’re hoping that runs around, the situation with the exporting gets fixed.”

Watch below (July 4): There are growing concerns about what to do with this year’s canola harvest. It comes on the heels of a ban on exports to China. Kent Morrison has the details.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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