Australian, Canadian and U.S. Groups Reconfirm Commitment to Innovation and Biotechnology in Wheat

Sixteen organizations in the Australia, Canada and the United States representing producers and millers together publicly confirmed support for innovation in wheat, including the future commercialization of biotechnology. The statement, which lays out shared commitments for the responsible advancement of biotech traits and other breeding advancements in wheat, comes five years after an original document was signed. This new pledge welcomes the addition of broad-based groups like the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union to a wide coalition of wheat organizations in the three countries.

The signatories call for further innovation in research as wheat represents about 20 percent of human calorie intake, making it an essential part of the global diet and critical to food security. As demand increases, they state, wheat supplies must remain abundant while meeting the highest quality and nutrition standards. Advanced breeding and biotechnology will help protect the continued availability of wheat foods and “ultimately offers the promise of improved products, more sustainable production and environmental benefits,” according to the statement.  

The groups also encourage the governments of wheat producing and importing countries to maintain sound, science-based regulatory systems as well as to adopt reasonable low level presence policies to minimize trade disruptions. For the same reason, the groups stated they will work toward the goal of synchronized commercialization of biotech traits in wheat in the three countries. Similarly, they reiterate that customer choice is paramount: “We stand ready to assist all industry segments to assure supplies of non-biotech wheat within reasonable commercial tolerances to markets that require it.”

U.S. organizations signing onto the statement include:

  • American Farm Bureau Federation
  • National Association of Wheat Growers
  • National Farmers Union
  • North American Millers’ Association
  • U.S. Wheat Associates

Canadian signatories:

  • Canadian National Millers Association
  • Cereals Canada
  • Grain Farmers of Ontario
  • Grain Growers of Canada
  • Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association

Australian signatories:

  • AgForce Queensland
  • Grain Growers Limited
  • Grain Producers Australia
  • Grain Producers SA
  • Pastoral and Graziers Association of Western Australia
  • Victorian Farmers Federations Grains Group 

Canadian and United States (U.S.) Grain Sectors Release Cross-Border Trade Study

Winnipeg, MB and Washington, DC – A new study, released by the Canada-U.S. Task Group, a group of Canadian and U.S. non-profit and trade organizations, documents the commercial flow of grain from the United States to Canada. The study addresses U.S. and Canadian trade volume, handling and processing practices for more than 15 commodities traded between the United States and Canada.  The analysis was provided to the Canadian and U.S. governments as input in the consultations for the development of phytosanitary measures under Canada’s proposed Grain Import Framework (D-12-05). 

The study, located online, examined data from 2010 to 2012. On average, corn is the number one commodity moving north from the United States to Canada at 1.05 million metric tons (MT) per year. Average soybean exports to Canada are 245,000 MT while wheat exports are 69,000 MT.  Additionally, the report indicates that 380,000 MT of screenings enter Canada on average, but this category mainly encompasses highly processed grain commodities that will be exempt from the proposed framework.

According to the study, 54 percent of all U.S. grain exports to Canada were transported by truck, followed by rail at 32 percent and water at 14 percent. The high percentage of truck movements highlighted a potential problem if inspections and certificates would be required on each shipment.  However, based on the risk assessments of the various crops and taking into consideration their end-use in Canada, it is expected that only a small number of these U.S. shipments will require a phytosanitary certificate.

The study also found that Canadian processing practices generally minimize phytosanitary risks that may arise from U.S. shipments. The commodities are typically cleaned at the recipient’s facility and screenings are heated, hammered and turned into feed or sent to landfills which mitigate phytosanitary risks.

Additionally, the Task Group has been engaged with the Canadian government to address concerns and will continue to participate in the governmental consultation process to improve Canada’s Grain Import Framework (D-12-05) implementation. 

Canadian and U.S. organizations formed the Canada-U.S. Task Group in April 2012 and have been working together to communicate cross-border trade information.  As part of this effort, the task group launched the website, http://canada-usgrainandseedtrade.info, to provide answers to questions about cross-border trade for wheat, durum, and barley producers in Canada and the United States. In its first year, about 4,500 visitors explored information targeted toward Canadian producers, U.S. producers, and the commercial grain and seed trade. Visitors can also submit comments and additional questions through the website.