Trade and technical barriers threaten pulse competitiveness
By Bruce Barker
Pulse Canada is working to break down trade barriers and improve pulse competitiveness.
The doors open one day and slam shut the next. The pulse industry has developed
markets for its products around the world, but with that success comes a certain
amount of vulnerability to technical trade barriers. Pulse Canada is working
with provincial grower groups and the federal government to keep technical problems
from blocking Canadian exports.
"A load of lentils is shipped offshore and the price goes down. Suddenly
the buyer finds a technical issue to reject the shipment. Those are the kinds
of issues that we are trying to prevent," explains Mark Goodwin, an independent
consulting agronomist from Winnipeg, Manitoba, who is working with Pulse Canada
to develop ways to prevent technical trade barriers from hindering Canadian
Goodwin lumps technical trade issues into several loose groups; maximum residue
limits (MRL), phytosanitary issues, access and pricing of pesticides. All have
the potential to affect Canadian pulse production, exports and competitiveness.
Cleanliness is divine
Phytosanitary refers to the cleanliness of the crop. It can refer to anything
from dirt and tag to deer feces or biological contaminants. Goodwin cites an
example where India has demanded increased controls for Ditylenchus dipsaci,
(stem and bulb nematode). Typically, fumigation with methyl bromide would be
done, but methyl bromide is being withdrawn from the marketplace. He says Pulse
Canada worked with the federal government and the government of India to work
on a suitable approach for a substitute.
Currently, two products are being tested including phosphine and sulphfuryl
Pesticide trade issues
The list of technical trade barriers due to pesticide use is long. Changes in
maximum residue limits (MRLs) mean that the pulse industry is forced to constantly
run just to stay abreast of worldwide changes. Take, for example, shipments
of dry beans into the US. Ronilan residue was found and the shipment was stopped
since there are 'no detectable' limits allowed for Ronilan.
"It looks like a grower group in the US looked for and found a problem
that could stop trade. They had the right to stop shipments, but Canadian growers
have to be careful of the products they use when shipping to markets with restrictions,"
In the search for a solution to white mould in dry beans, Goodwin says Agriculture
and Agri-Food Canada at Brandon is working on biological control with a fungus,
while the University of Manitoba is looking at biological control with a bacteria.
In addition, Goodwin says that BASF and Syngenta have new products with active
ingredients from the strobilurins family, Headline and Quadris respectively,
which are allowed in the US.
Countries around the world are also revising their MRL guidelines. For pulse
growers, the European Union presents special problems. There, the 'no detectable'
limit is being moved from 50ppb to 10ppb. "They have increased the power
of the microscope on pesticide residues."
In the EU, stricter legislation means more change is coming in MRLs. Goodwin
calls on exporters to be watchful of coming changes.
Pesticide borders need opening up
Another issue that Pulse Canada is following closely is access to new reduced
risk pesticides. On the registration front, Goodwin says the Minor Use Registration
program is working but since the program has limited resources, pulse growers
compete with other industries for their fair share of research.
Canadian pulse growers are continually struggling to access products that are
registered in the US and either are not available in Canada, or are available
in Canada at a higher price. Goodwin says that Pulse Canada's preference is
to work through the North American Free Trade Agreement, giving growers access
to pesticides on a North American basis through a harmonized registration system.
"This was an original component of the treaty. CropLife Canada and the
government supports this position, and grower organizations need to get behind
it too," says Goodwin.
Another concern is the relatively low level of herbicide research being conducted
for field crops around the world in Canada. With regulatory barriers high and
only a few pesticide companies actively involved in research, Goodwin says that
the pipeline supply has slowed to a dribble.
"With five dollar per acre soybean herbicides (glyphosate tolerant), nobody
is screening for soybean herbicides. Yet, we depend on soybean herbicides in
the pulse industry as a source for minor use products. Without those products,
we could run into trouble down the road," explains Goodwin.
In summary, Goodwin says farmers have to help set the agenda to enable them
to remain competitive in the pulse export market. He says there are too many
moving parts and given the limited resources, they have to make sure everyone
is working together. -30-
Pulse Canada's top
Background comments: Chlorpyrifos (Lorsban) is under regulatory
review. If there is a restriction on the product, it leaves only the pyrethroids
for grasshopper control.
Crops: Peas, lentils, chickpeas and dry beans.
Crops: Peas, lentils, chickpeas and beans.
Crops: Dry beans.
Problem: Post-emergence broadleaf weed control options.
Background comments: There is a lack of post-emergence broadleaf
weed control options.
Crops: Dry beans.
Crops: Dry beans.
Crops: Dry beans.
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