Wednesday, August 31, 2016

China shelves canola standard

China has shelved much lower limits for dockage in canola that was due to take effect Thursday, Sept. 1, and says it’s willing to continue negotiations with Canadians. 

 The news came during the first day of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to China. 

 The Chinese say they are worried that blackleg disease could enter China via Canadian canola.

 It is Canada’s largest customer, buying more than $2 billion worth a year. Canadians say they have nothing to worry about at current trading limits for dockage. 

 Years of negotiations have so far failed to yield a deal on the issue.  

The deal comes as Prairie farmers are harvesting a bumper crop.

Agrium, Potash Corp. discussing merger

Agrium and Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan are in merger discussions.

Both say no deal has yet been struck, but if one does emerge, it will create one of Canada’s largest companies and a dominant force in the fertilizer markets. The stock prices of the two companies total more than $30 billion.

Potash Corp. is the world’s largest potash-mining company. Agrium has the world’s largest fertilizer retailing business.

Both are members of Canpotex, a Canadian potash exporting cartel. Mosaic is the third member.

In 2010, the Harper government nixed a deal that BHP Billiton struck to buy Potash Corp. for $6 billion US.

Now BHP is investing about $2.5 billion to build a potash mine in Saskatchewan.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

U.S.D.A. closes six offices because of threats

Meatingplace Magazine reports that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has closed six offices in five states after receiving anonymous threats.

U.S.D.A. spokesman Matthew Herrick said via e-mail that "Yesterday (Monday), U.S.D.A. received several anonymous messages that are concerning for the safety of personnel and facilities.

“As a precaution, U.S.D.A. has closed offices" in Raleigh, N.C., Fort Collins, Colo.; Hamden, Conn.; Beltsville, Md.; and Kearneysville and Leetown, W.Va.

Details about the nature of the threats were not available.

The locations affected reportedly include offices for eight U.S.D.A. agencies, including the Forest Service, Food Safety and Inspection Service and Agricultural Research Service.

Among the sites affected was the research center and library in Beltsville, Md.

Egypt rejects some Ontario wheat

Egypt has rejected some loads of Ontario wheat because of ergot.

The tolerance was supposed to be 0.05 per cent, but even though Ontario shipments have been below that level, they have been rejected, said marketing manager Todd Austin of Grain Farmers of Ontario.

He said he’s not sure whether Egypt’s new standard of zero tolerance for ergot will be retroactive. Reuters has reported that Egypt has said it is retroactive, meaning it will apply to shipments in transit that were loaded before the new standard was announced.

“Any “no-tolerance” or zero acceptance present challenges to shipments, as Ontario has areas where ergot can be present,” Austin said.

“For farmers, it is always a good idea to know the quality parameters that are required when selling grain,” he said.


Trudeau touts canola in China

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wasted no time getting to the canola issue in China, although he apparently never let the word pass his lips.

Soon after he landed, he told a meeting of businessmen that Canada has earned a reputation for high-quality and clean agricultural products.

The Chinese will implement a reduced tolerance for dockage in canola shipments effective Thursday, Sept. 1.

Canadians say the lower limit is not necessary to protect China from blackleg disease, but the Chinese say it is.

Meeting the new standard will be expensive and time-consuming, say growers and traders.

Yet three companies have booked orders from China at the new standards, upsetting some who say they are undermining Canada’s stance.

Trudeau told the businessmen “in our agriculture, we use high-quality products and we create high-quality products and goods.”

Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters after Trudeau’s speech that Canada had made very clear what a key issue canola is.

“This is a big deal for Canada,” she said. 

Canola is the country’s second-largest trading product with China and China is the biggest buyer of Canadian canola.

Egypt bans wheat with ergot

Egypt has imposed a ban on wheat that contains any ergot.

The new standard, which is retroactive, replaces a tolerance of 0.05 per cent ergot.

The country says it’s concerned that ergot could attack its crops.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations says there is little risk associated with the small tolerance for ergot, but said it’s willing to change its mind if even miniscule amounts of ergot do pose a threat to crops.

The Egyptian announcement has caught the grain trade flat-footed and one trader told Reuters it’s going to cause chaos.