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|Canada Makes Historic Progress on Agriculture Partnerships in China|
Source: Government of Canada, April 15, 2010
“Fifty years ago, Canadian farmers made history by delivering huge shipments of wheat to answer an urgent call for food in China and we are proud of the close partnership we have with China that remains strong today,” said Minister Ritz. “We’re making history again as China continues to lead the world by striving to make its food supply more nutritious and Canadian producers are stepping up with innovative new techniques and products to answer that call.”
Canadian pulse exports to China are projected to expand rapidly based on three factors. First, China agreed to remove import restrictions on Canadian peas after joint research demonstrated that there is no health risk associated with naturally occurring selenium. Second, Pulse Canada and the Chinese Cereals and Oils Association signed a memorandum of agreement to increase the nutritional benefits of staple Chinese foods by adding pulse ingredients. Third, the Government of Canada will invest more than $1 million to help Pulse Canada and their partners build Canada’s research and processing capacity to produce pulse flours and pulse-based ingredients that can be used in Chinese products.
According to industry estimates and overwhelming interest from Chinese buyers, Pulse Canada projects that pulse exports to China could increase to $500 million from the current value of $100 million.
“Something as simple as finding a way to add a teaspoon of pea flour to a Chinese dumpling will mean tremendous opportunities for Canadian pulse producers and healthier meals for Chinese families,” said Minister Ritz.
Minister Ritz also continued to work with Chinese officials to resolve restrictions on Canadian canola exports to China. While that work continues, the Canola Council of Canada (CCC) announced it will invest funding provided by the Government of Canada’s Agri-Flexibility program to drive initiatives aimed at stabilizing and expanding Canadian canola exports to China. First, the CCC will invest up to $1 million to conduct field demonstrations and surveys to identify ways to minimize the risk of blackleg, a fungal disease in canola seed. Second, the CCC will invest $500,000 for canola-meal feed trials in Chinese dairies – previous studies show that canola meal in dairy feed increases milk production for each cow dramatically by 1 litre per day.
The CCC estimates that Canadian canola producers could benefit from an additional $70 million by increasing the value of canola meal in China.
“Resolving the blackleg restrictions on our canola exports to China will take more time and more hard work,” said Minister Ritz. “But while we continue to do that work as quickly as possible, we’re also moving forward by finding new ways to increase the value of canola in the Chinese market, such as boosting demand for meal by their dairy industry.”
When Prime Minister Stephen Harper led a trade mission to China in December, China agreed to lift its ban on Canadian pork that had been implemented in the wake of H1N1. Minister Ritz continued that momentum by finalizing an agreement to re-open the Chinese market to Canadian exports of purebred swine genetics.
Canadian Swine Exporters Association expects total Canadian sales of purebred swine genetics to China to be worth $30 million this year.
“Canadian farmers produce the best purebred swine genetics in the world and we’re proud to deliver our top-quality breeding stock to Chinese farmers,” said Minister Ritz. “There are still challenges in the Canadian pork industry, but lifting this last restriction on swine exports to China will be a real profit boost for our producers.”
This year Canada and China are celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of historic wheat sales to China that saved thousands of lives from famine. Minister Ritz built on this long-standing good will by bringing the Canadian Wheat Board on the mission to China and together they announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding that guarantees the opportunity to sell an estimated $100 million of Canadian malt barley to China.
“Western Canadian farmers continue to tell us that they deserve the freedom to market their own barley,” said Minister Ritz. “But as long as the Wheat Board controls the barley marketing business it’s in everyone’s interest to make sure business is good. We always put Farmers First and this deal got done because it guarantees strong market share for Western Canadian farmers.”
Minister Ritz also pressed his Chinese counterparts to recognize international scientific consensus that clearly states that Canadian beef is safe. China is one of few countries that remains completely closed to Canadian beef since the discovery of BSE in 2003. Both countries committed to continued expert discussions to resolve the issue as soon as possible.