Developing new European markets for Ontario grain

Grain yields are on the rise in Ontario, creating growing demand for new markets for the province’s abundant corn, soybean and wheat crops.

The signing of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union (EU) has removed tariffs that were previously placed on Canadian corn and low protein wheat, and it’s a region that Ontario’s grain farmers feel offers significant growth opportunities.

“Our goal is to promote Ontario as a top supplier for grains and oilseeds and to share our sustainability story,” says Nicole MacKellar, Manager of Market Development with Grain Farmers of Ontario. “As our production grows, finding new export markets becomes increasingly important.”

Grain Farmers of Ontario has kicked off a year-long project that will look to open new opportunities in the EU. The project will include an outgoing trade mission with stops in Brussels and the United Kingdom to meet with agricultural organizations and potential buyers, as well as an incoming mission that will see European agricultural journalists come to Ontario to learn more about grain production in the province and the industry’s sustainable practices.

Grain Farmers of Ontario are also developing new brochures that will provide an overview of Ontario grains and oilseeds production and highlight technological and genetics-based improvements that support sustainable production.  

According to MacKellar, sustainability is very top of mind in the EU and Ontario grain production has many of the attributes that resonate well in the European market, including increasing land use efficiency, reducing soil erosion and decreasing climate impact. Additionally, Britain’s pending exit from the EU presents new opportunities for relationship building as the island nation currently imports 70 per cent of its feed protein.

“Our long-term goal is to see an increase in Ontario grain exports into the UK and Europe,” she says. “Letting people know Ontario is a premium grain supplier with sustainable production practices, building those new relationships, and making better connections with the Canadian trade commissioners in the EU, who serve as our eyes and ears in the marketplace, will help us achieve that goal.”

Funding from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership is also playing a key role in this market development project. Grain Farmers of Ontario is appreciative of the support, says MacKellar; without it, the project would be of a much smaller scale and limited in its ability to benefit the industry.

This project was funded in part through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (the Partnership), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of the Partnership in Ontario.