Cash advance boost to take effect next week

Regulations in place for farmers to apply June 10 at soonest, receive payments starting June 26

marie claude bibeau
Ag Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau speaks to media at Cigi in Winnipeg on March 13, 2019. (Dave Bedard photo)

Regulations permanently expanding loan limits under the federal Advance Payments Program — and temporarily boosting interest-free advances for canola growers — are in place for applications to begin next Monday at the earliest.

Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said Monday amendments to the Agricultural Marketing Programs Regulations are now in place to boost the APP loan limit from $400,000 to $1 million “for all producers on a permanent basis.”

The amendments also raise the interest-free portion of APP loans on canola to $500,000 for the 2019 program year. Producers of all other APP-eligible commodities can still apply for up to $100,000 interest-free.

Federal officials are now working with the 36 APP administrators across Canada to “revise contracts (and) operating procedures and to ensure system changes are properly implemented,” the government said.

Farmers will be able to apply for the new amounts “as early as June 10,” the government said, and new advances above $400,000 will be issued as of June 26.

Until the new processes are in place, farmers will still be able to access up to the current advance limit of $400,000.

As of last Wednesday (May 29), that amount is interest-free for all canola advances, the government said Monday.

Farmers will want to contact the relevant APP administrator about application details and processing timelines, the government said.

Bibeau, who announced Ottawa’s plans early last month, was starting to come under political pressure in the past couple of weeks to get additional APP cash flowing.

Bernie McClean, president of the Canadian Canola Growers Association (CCGA), an APP administrator, hailed the government’s move in its release Monday, adding “Time is of the essence, with uncertainty over markets and farm cash flow being such a big concern for farmers this year.”

“Stronger cash advances, with a larger interest-free portion for canola, as requested by western producers, will help support farm incomes while we work on all possible fronts to overcome current market distortions and impediments,” federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, a Regina MP, said in the same release.

Since March, Canadian canola seed exports have faced such impediments heading into China, which was a $2.7 billion market in 2018 alone.

The Chinese government, alleging quality and pest issues, suspended canola export licenses of two major Canadian grain companies and Chinese buyers have since been unwilling to purchase Canada’s canola seed otherwise. The Canola Council of Canada has said the “scientific basis for China’s actions remains unclear.”

Canada-China relations took a turn for the worse back in December when Canadian officials arrested Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer for Chinese tech company Huawei, in Vancouver.

Meng, now in Vancouver under house arrest, was detained at the request of the U.S. government, which seeks her extradition on fraud charges relating to alleged violation of U.S. sanctions against Iran. — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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