Federal trade minister wants proof from China for cancelled canola shipments

Canada’s International Trade Diversification Minister addressed China’s move to block canola shipments from one of Canada’s largest grain processors on the final day of the annual Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) convention in Saskatoon.

“The relationship with China is going through a difficult moment, as we all know. We see this as a science-based issue,” Jim Carr told the crowd of delegates Thursday morning.

A Chinese government spokesperson said canola imports from Richardson International were suspended due to “harmful organisms.”

Carr said the canola received approval from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

“China says that there are imperfections in this canola, and we have said, ‘Show us. Prove it to us. Where is the evidence?’” Carr said.

“We can work through these issues if they’re real. Show us the evidence. If it’s not real, let’s move on.”

“We’re pushing hard at the officials level through the Canadian Embassy in Beijing and through the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa,” Carr said.

SARM president, Ray Orb, said his organization is willing to work with the federal government to help the situation.

“The federal government I know is trying to resolve the issue. We think they need to go to China to talk to Chinese officials about this.  We think the federal agriculture minister needs to go. Minister Carr himself needs to go,” Orb said.

“We think this may be the only way this gets resolved.”

“Farmers are used to adversity. Unfortunately, farmers can’t control what happens between two governments,” Orb said.

“We believe that farmers are doing a good job of growing and producing crops. The federal government should do their job and resolve this situation as quickly as can be.”

Orb said SARM representatives plan to meet with the federal agriculture minister, Marie-Claude Bibeau, in Ottawa, the first week of April.

-With files from the Canadian Press

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