I like to think I’m a pretty well-rounded person, but one skill I’m lacking is the ability to read minds. In fact, I shockingly don’t have any superpowers (although, wrangling a four-year-old and twin two-year olds into their car seats in my minivan every morning should count for something). But if I had to venture a guess at two of the most popular topics on the minds of producers in Western Canada right now, I’d select canola and moisture. To be fair, I suppose these are hot topics to producers across the country at any time of year. But the current climate – meteorological and otherwise – is particularly tense at the moment.
As of April 30, the Canadian Drought Monitor reported much of southern Alberta and Saskatchewan were experiencing at least abnormally dry conditions, with moderate to severe drought occurring in several areas. This is especially concerning after a particularly dry 2018, but seeding in Saskatchewan kicked off on a high note nonetheless. In Manitoba, cooler temperatures slowed down seeding in the Eastern and Interlake regions. It was a challenging start, but progress is being made.
On the other hand, there’s been little development to the ongoing canola seed trade dispute between Canada and China as of the time of this writing, which is arguably a larger concern. The Canadian government is working toward more support for canola growers. Announced by Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau and Minister of International Trade Diversification Jim Carr on May 1, loan limits under the Advance Payments Program will increase to $1 million (from the previous limit of $400,000). Furthermore, canola advances will be eligible for up to $500,000 interest free, and the first $100,000 will remain interest free on all other commodities. Beyond this, the AgriStability deadline has been extended to July 2, 2019, for all provinces. Minister Carr also announced he will be leading a canola trade mission to Japan and South Korea this month, continuing his work to engage other high-potential countries, including the Mexico, UAE, Germany, France and other Asian markets. The much-needed support was welcomed by industry, but in a press release, the Canola Council of Canada (CCC) reiterated the need to do more. “While producer support and market diversification are important, regaining access to the Chinese market remains a priority,” the CCC said in perhaps the most impactful statement of the release.
Though very different, both situations are discouraging and frustrating, leaving many feeling as though their hands are tied during time of year when time really is of the essence. My crystal ball isn’t providing much in terms of sage wisdom to offer. What I do know is this isn’t the first dry or cool spring on record, and it surely won’t be the last. And on the same note, this isn’t the first trade dispute Canada has experienced, and though I hope I’m wrong, I suspect it won’t be the last either.
In the meantime, if you’re affected by drought conditions, the canola trade dispute, or any other issue that might hinder your operation this year, we’re with you, and we encourage you to press on. It may feel like an uphill climb, but progress is progress, no matter how small.
Editor’s note: In the Mid-March issue of Top Crop Manager West, we mistakenly attributed the story, “The factors of soybean planting decisions” on page 54 to Donna Fleury. The story was written by Julienne Isaacs. We regret the error.