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FAQ: Corn Traits

What is the situation? 

Grain Farmers of Ontario was recently made aware that some grain buyers are not accepting corn from hybrids that contain certain stacked traits. This could impact our farmer-members opportunities to market their corn. There are certain corn hybrids with trait stacks that are not approved for sale in the European Union. The full list can be found on the Canadian Seed Trade Association (CSTA) website in the grid view, sorted by EU approved. 

What is Grain Farmers of Ontario’s role?

Our role is to ensure our farmer-members know about any issues that could impact their businesses as we are made aware of them. In this instance, we are encouraging farmer-members to work with their seed dealers, seed companies,and grain buyers to understand any restrictions. 

How do I know if I have those stacked traits?

The best way to know is to check against the list on the CSTA website. These stacked traits are very specific, so we encourage farmer-members to check. 

Are these trait stacks approved in Canada?

 Yes, they are. They are approved in several markets. Your grain buyers should be working with the seed companies to understand the markets and approvals and they are the best people to speak to for more information. 

How did this happen?

Each company decides how it will bring a product to market, and buyers decide which traits to accept. When Grain Farmers of Ontario understood that there were potential business impacts for our farmer-members, we met with groups to understand the situation and notified farmer-members of the potential issues. The best source of information on this issue will be the seed companies and grain buyers. 

If a grain company that I am obligated to deliver corn to will not accept that corn, what do I do?

 You will have to work with your grain buyer and seed representatives to find a solution. Each farmer makes individual choices with regards to their hybrids and planting strategy. 

Is there a list of elevators that are accepting corn with these stacked traits?

There is not. This is changing day by day. 

Does Grain Farmers of Ontario support new technologies?

Absolutely. We support advancements in product development – especially those that benefit our farmer-members through better yield, higher quality, or pest management. However, we are not involved in how the products are brought to market by retailers. – We have taken actions to build strong markets and provide opportunities for new technologies. 

How important is the European Union market to Ontario corn?

Europe is a growing market for Canadian corn. In 2019, five of the top 10 export markets for Canadian corn were from Europe with a total export value of $210,903,848, which accounted for 65% of total value of exports. For comparison, corn exports to the U.S. totalled $109,718,103. (source: Statistics Canada) (These values do not include exports of co-products such as dried distillers’ grains and corn gluten which are also exported to Europe.)

What’s next?

We believe the ultimate goal for the industry is approval for all markets. This situation represents an opportunity for increased communication between seed companies and grain buyers so that farmers are not taken by surprise by issues like this.