Canola growers have more things on their mind than getting their crop planted, according to Barry Coleman, executive director of the Northern Canola Growers Association.
“I am getting lots of calls from growers who are upset that (current trade issues) have been announced in the middle of planting season,” Coleman said. “It has the potential of distorting the planting of some crops out there. People are wondering if they should take canola seed back and plant something else.”
Despite an earlier pledge from USDA Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue that there would be no extension of the Market Facilitation Program (MFP), there is now talk that such a program could be initiated for the 2019 crop year. This idea was bolstered by recent comments by Vice President Pence at a farm stop near Glyndon, Minn.
“We are working with Sen. Hoeven’s office in trying to schedule a meeting with USDA officials next week to try to make sure we get canola included in what’s going on right now,” Coleman said. “We certainly don’t want canola to be excluded, especially since our prices have gone down in lock-step with soybeans – the crop that did get a decent MFP payment last year. We estimate the impact to U.S. canola growers at about $100 million.”
The markets on May 14 took a break from their usual downward trend and had a slight rally due to a weather scare that more rain was forecasted for the Midwest. That triggered some shortcoming, Coleman noted, and all commodities were up on the day. Canola cash prices ranged from $15.00-$15.25 per hundredweight at the local crush plants. Future prices were also higher, with an increase of $6 a ton for the July futures to $442 and for November at $453 a ton for a $7 increase.
The Canadian canola markets continues to go down as well, because of the Chinese executive arrested earlier this year in Vancouver. The government in Canada has pledged help to growers north of the border, and details are still being worked out on what form the relief package will take.
They are also working on opening up new markets for canola. Canada has suggested an increase in their biofuel mandate to 5 percent, which they say will use up 1.3 million tons of canola, which Coleman said, would be good for the canola industry in Canada. In addition, they are looking to open new markets in Southeast Asia for both oil and meal, but it will be tough to replace the purchases of China, which took a lot of both the Canada and U.S. production.
Finally, according to Coleman, the canola crush plants in Canada have been running at about 85 percent capacity and sometimes over 90 percent, thus making it tough for the crush industry to all of a sudden supply a bunch of canola oil, should that be called for by the countries where seed has been stopped.