Tariffs boosting some Canadian Corn farmers’ sales

Global Business

Corn growers in Canada are enjoying a bump in exports to Europe, thanks to a trade spat between Washington and Brussels. But some fear the short-term gains may be offset by the long-term impact on the industry.

CGTN’s Roee Ruttenberg reports.

Henry Van Ankum has been growing corn on his farm near Toronto for nearly 30 years.  Ontario is Canada’s largest corn-producing province.

“We grow a great product here in Canada,” Van Ankum said. “We grow it sustainably. It’s a safe, secure supply.”

This year’s cobs are still weeks away from being harvested.  The kernels are still moist.  Van Ankum is selling last year’s stored batch. And he’s selling more of it. “I think we’ll continue to see good demand for it,” Van Ankum said.

Rob Gamble predicts he will. Gamble is the Chief Economist at Grain Farmers of Ontario. “The tariffs that Europe placed on U.S. corn – 25 percent – that would be the main driver that would then make U.S. corn more expensive than Canadian corn,” Gamble said.

Before the tariffs were announced in June, Canada had already exported more corn to Europe than it had the entire previous year.

“There was a lot of talk prior to June about the tariffs coming into place,” Gamble explains. “People were interested in probably locking in some of their corn purchases, and that’s probably what fueled it.”

Many farmers sell to dealers, who in exchange export their corn to Europe. When there’s an increase in demand on that side of the Atlantic, the Canadian middlemen will offer the growers extra compensation to supply their grains. 

These past few months, Van Ankum has been getting around CA$5.00 (US$4.00) per bushel.  That’s the highest it’s been all year. Ironically, it could be even higher, if not for U.S. corn pulling it down.

John Greig edits FarmTario, an Ontario publication dedicated to farming. “Our price is tied to the American price,” Greig explains. “When that price of the commodities has dropped, because of the political situation, that affects our farmers more than any short-term bumps that come from an increase in exports or increased market access.”

The American supply, he notes, is still out there. “American corn is finding homes around the world. Even if it’s not in Europe, that American corn is going somewhere.’

Van Ankum fears, it may end up in his backyard.  “I think we’ll see more of that American corn heading towards Canada,” Van Ankum said. “And that extra supply for us will negate some of those benefits of having another interest from another market.”