Market roadblocks created by government impact prairie farmers

In this space it has often been suggested one of the biggest challenges for farmers in terms of making a profit is maneuvering through the varied roadblocks created in the marketplace by government.

Of late the disruptions have generally been the result of the loose cannon American President Donald Trump, but other countries are getting involved in setting up barriers largely based on creating trade barriers rather than because of good science or food safety reasons.

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For example, a Brazilian judge recently suspended the use of products containing glyphosate, a herbicide widely employed for soybeans and other crops in the country, as well as in countries such as Canada where most canola is resistant to the herbicide.

The federal judge ruled new products containing the chemical could not be registered in the country and existing registrations would be suspended within the next 30 days until the government re-evaluates their toxicity.

Glyphosate has been studied extensively since its discovery in 1970, and while there is a general distrust of science growing in the world, it is not likely the Brazilian government is going to discover anything new. The government can still make a ruling that might ban the herbicide, but it would not be one made based on the best science of the day, but rather on suspect interpretation of the science, if not outright fear of it.

The ruling particularly affects Monsanto, which markets a glyphosate-resistant, genetically modified type of soybean that is planted on a large scale in Brazil, corresponding in general terms to much of the canola grown in Canada.

With canola so reliant on glyphosate usage, the final Brazilian decision, after what will no doubt be protracted court challenges, could have a ripple effect on canola here in Canada.

And then there is the spat happening between Canada and Saudi Arabia, stemming from Canada refusing to back down in its defence of human rights.

The record of human rights in Saudi Arabia is a rather dismal one, a record which would be publicly deplored far more if the country wasn’t sitting on an ocean of oil the rest of the world needs. That reality has most world leaders turning a blind eye to any issue surrounding the Saudis as a way to ensure oil exports flow.

“Saudi Arabia has a criminal justice system based on a hard-line and literal form of Shariah law reflecting a particular state-sanctioned interpretation of Islam,” notes Wikipedia.

“It is usually carried out publicly by beheading with a sword. A recent report by the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights (ESOHR) shows that the number of beheadings in the kingdom during the first quarter of 2018 rose by over 70 percent compared to the same period last year.”

But what are a few beheadings compared to oil flowing?

Saudi Arabia has frozen new trade and investment and expelled the Canadian ambassador among its retaliatory measures after Ottawa’s call to free arrested Saudi civil society activists.

And the trade cuts are hitting agriculture.

Saudi Arabia’s main state wheat buying agency has informed grains exporters it will no longer buy Canadian wheat and barley, and it appears forage sales for livestock feed may be impacted too.

Again, the free flow of goods based on supply, demand, and price, cornerstones of organized trade, are abandoned for political reasons which impact farmers here.