Thursday, March 31, 2022

Mussell offers advice re. war in Ukraine

 Agriculture economist Al Mussell said there’s not much, but some things, Canadian agriculture can do in response to Russia’s unprovoked invasion of the Ukraine.

In a report for the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute, he said:

Canada should develop a strategy to increase self-reliance for nitrogen fertilizers and continue to develop domestic sources of phosphate while advancing phosphate recovery from wastewater. The nitrogen fertilizer emission reduction target should focus on improving efficiency and addressing import dependency. 

A co-ordinated multinational effort will be needed to provide ongoing relief of wheat and other feedstuff supplies to countries most sensitive to the loss of Ukraine as a supplier. 

Canada needs to improve rail and port infrastructure and supply chain resiliency to be a more efficient and reliable supplier of food, feed, and fertilizer. 

Livestock producers in Europe who rely on feed grains imported from Ukraine are at risk, which may create opportunities for Canada. However, segments of livestock production in Canada are under significant economic stress today. Strategies should be put in place to support these industries during a possible transition. 

Canada must work with countries where food represents a relatively large share of household incomes to reduce the fallout of the Ukrainian invasion. 

He said Canada hasn't got many reserves of land to ramp up production and inventories of grains that could provide immediate relief to farmers and people needing food because of the war.

The Ukraine is a significant exporter of sunflowers, wheat, corn and barley. 

Russia is a significant supplier of nitrogen fertilizers, including to Eastern Canada which is heavily reliant on its supplies. Farmers and farm supply companies are asking the federal government to temporarily waive the 35 per cent tariff imposed to punish Russia for its invasion.