Glacier FarmMedia COVID-19 & the Farm

Supply chain working but canola groups have concerns

Federal field trials need to continue and growers need protective equipment, they say

Canola south of Ethelton, Sask. on Aug. 3, 2017. (Dave Bedard photo)

There have been no issues so far with supplies of inputs and parts, transportation or oilseed processing during the pandemic, canola industry officials report.

“We’ve been really focused on making sure farmers have access to inputs and resources to get the 2020 crop in the ground,” Canola Council of Canada president Jim Everson said during an online town hall Tuesday.

However, both the canola council and the Canadian Canola Growers Association (CCGA) have several areas of concern, he added.

One is the decision by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to scale back its research operations.

“The canola council is advocating for a timely start to the 2020 yield trials that Agriculture Canada normally does, as long as they can be executed in a manner that is safe for everyone involved from a COVID point of view,” said Everson.

The federal field trials are key to the long-term effort to control blackleg, sclerotinia and other yield-robbing diseases, he said.

Everson said discussions are ongoing with AAFC and farm groups are asking it to review its research work “case by case and project by project to find solutions.”

His organization will continue to offer agronomy services this year, he added.

“We will not change this commitment to support producers, but our programs and our approaches will change.”

Other concerns include the shortage of personal protective equipment for farmers and ensuring they have adequate cash flow, CCGA CEO Rick White said.

“Cash flow is a big worry for farmers, COVID-related or not,” he said.

Like other farm organizations, the two canola groups have been talking to federal officials about changing the Advance Payments Program to help get more cash to the sector.

— Alexis Kienlen is a reporter for Alberta Farmer in Edmonton.

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