Mexican restrictions limit canaryseed movement

Strict Mexican restrictions on canaryseed imports that recently came into effect will likely limit Canadian exports to the country, until supplies in the normally major importer tighten and the issue is revisited, according to an official with the Canadian Special Crops Association.

Mexico is traditionally a customer for 25 per cent of Canada’s canaryseed exports, but a dispute over weed seed tolerance in shipments is making many Canadian exporters reluctant to deal with the country.

A transition period expired Aug. 15 with no agreement reached between the two countries, so Mexico went forward with imposing its own restrictions.

Currently, a shipment of canaryseed to Mexico must be certified as having zero weed seeds per kilogram when leaving Canada, with a tolerance of 15 seeds per kg on arrival. Under the transition period that tolerance had ranged from 100 down to 50 seeds.

“Fifteen is a very difficult standard to meet, although there are a few exporters who feel they can meet that,” said Carl Potts, director of market access and trade policy with the CSCA.

While some Canadian exporters are still trying to meet the new requirements, the risk of being turned away at the border creates too much risk for many others.

Potts said the flow of canaryseed will slow down under these conditions, as Mexican buyers filled up on supplies before the new stricter requirements came into place. 

Potts was hopeful that once those stocks are worked through, Mexican importers may put pressure on their government to loosen the restrictions, in order to make it easier to bring in more Canadian supplies.

Plant protection agencies from the two countries continue to be in contact, although Potts said there were no official negotiations currently.

Canaryseed bids currently top out at about 27 cents per pound in Western Canada, according to the latest Prairie Ag Hotwire report.

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