Liberals boost lending to canola producers and seek new markets for products blocked by China



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Canola producers are getting a boost for a federal lending program, while China continues to block imports that it claims are contaminated by pests.

Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau and International Trade Diversification Minister Jim Carr announced Wednesday that the government will more than double the maximum amount available to individual producers in the Advance Payments Program, from $ 400,000 per year to $ 1 million.

"These measures will give canola farmers the support they need to manage their cash flow," Bibeau told a news conference at Parliament Hill.

The increase will be available to all Canadian farmers. For canola growers, the no-interest portion will be raised to $ 500,000, from $ 100,000.

Bibeau said the federal government, in partnership with the provinces, has extended the deadline for an income stabilization program. Farmers will have until July 2 to participate in the Agrostability program.

Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau told Canadians Canola Farmers that the government has its back. 0:25

China blocked Canadian canola from Richardson International and Viterra, two of Canada's largest exporters, saying that shipments were contaminated with pests. Canadian politicians have insisted that there is no basis for this statement.

Bibeau said that farmers often face enormous pressures, and trade uncertainties can contribute to stress and mental health problems.

"We encourage farmers who need to never hesitate to ask for help," she said.

Carr also announced that he will lead a trade mission in early June to Japan and South Korea and will engage with other countries as the federal government seeks new markets for Canadian canola.

"It is critical that Canadian exporters have other markets readily available when faced with trade disruptions," he said.

International Trade Minister Jim Carr explains how his mission to find new markets for Canadian canola will unfold. 0:52

Bilateral tensions have been on the rise since China detained two Canadians – actions widely seen as a response to the arrest of Huawei's executive in the country, Meng Wanzhou, at the request of the United States.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau raised concerns about the detention of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor by China, insisting that Beijing's decision to arrest the two Canadians was arbitrary.

Today, he said the issue is complex and has geopolitical implications.

"We continue to work very, very hard on how we move forward, especially standing for the Canadians, as we have done so far," he said.

Trudeau tweeted that he had "good phone calls" with Premier Scott Seanatchewan and Premier Alberta Jason Kenney last night to explain what the government is doing to secure market access and help canola farmers.

Kenney said Trudeau "informed him" of federal actions.

"I thanked the Prime Minister on behalf of Alberta farmers," he said.

Moe said the changes in the program give producers "breathing space," adding that the focus now must be on taking China to the table for a talk on how to return to a "fruitful business relationship."

Conservative parliamentarian Erin O & Tobe said that strengthening the lending program will help farmers in the short term, but called it a measure of "disruption" because it will not address the issue of access to the underlying market.

"The Trudeau government has allowed our diplomatic situation with China to fall into chaos, where we are not sure which commodity could be at risk," he said.

Earlier this week, conservative leader Andrew Scheer held a press conference outlining what steps the government should take to alleviate the crisis, including improving the loan guarantee program, immediately appointing an ambassador to Beijing and launching a WTO challenge .

He also said that Canada should withdraw its $ 256 million financing to the Asian Investment Bank.

Toole said it's time to take stronger action.

"We should not fund the Chinese state's priorities when the Chinese state is using our citizens as hostages," he said.

Jim Everson, chairman of Canada's Canola Council, called the action "good news" for producers dealing with unprecedented uncertainty.

Largest market is effectively closed & # 39;

"With our largest market for canola seeds effectively closed, it is important for everyone that producers can pay their bills while efforts are made to address the problem," he said in a statement.

Everson said it is an ideal time for Canada to pursue other clients and develop new markets by building trade agreements, especially in Asia.

Trudeau had promised on Monday that aid for canola farmers would come "in a few days."

"Canadians know, of course, as do people around the world, that the Canadian food inspection and quality of Canadian agriculture and products are world class, and the processes we have can not be defeated anywhere in the world "he said.

The federal government is increasing loan guarantees to help Canadian canola producers be hampered by a trade dispute with China. (Jeff McIntosh / The Canadian Press)

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