Canada’s climate woes make it difficult to get mustard and fries

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Snow covers soya fields at the Belfontaine Holstein farm in Quebec in early December 2021.

A mix of drought in Canada’s prairies and flooding on its Pacific coast have brought about crop production and shipping woes now leading to international shortages of fries and mustard.

In Japan, for example, McDonald’s has been forced to ration fries as the British Columbia floods squeezed potato imports, while mustard producers in France are forecasting steep price increases because the drought in another part of Canada–the world’s biggest producer of mustard grains–cut supplies.

“When we look back at the state of the agriculture sector in 2021, we can say this year has been marked by extreme climate change weather events,” Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said in a recent speech.

“That includes the worst drought in 60 years in Western Canada and the devastating atmospheric rivers in British Columbia,” she told livestock farmers and ranchers who’ve struggled to secure enough hay to feed their animals as pastures dried up.

According to government data, farmers in Canada produced more corn but less wheat, canola, barley, soybeans and oats in 2021 compared with 2020.

The lower yields–which Statistics Canada said marked the largest year-over-year decrease on record, falling to levels not seen in more than a decade–were driven largely by drought conditions in Western Canada.

Keith Currie of Canada Federation of Agriculture said to AFP that there is a lot of anxiety in the farming community. Many farmers are losing everything and others are contemplating quitting because the future is bleak.

A pumpkins floats in floodwaters at a farm in Abbotsford, east of Vancouver, in November 2021, following record rainfall that resulted in widespread flooding of farms, landslides and the evacuation of residents.

The Agri-Food Analytics Labs at Dalhousie University publishes a list of the top 10 food-related stories each year. After food inflation, climate calamities in Western Canada were ranked second.

“Climate Change has Strongly impacted Agrarian Production and Supply Chains” Already Tightened by the Pandemic, Sylvain Charlebois, the scientific director of Sylvain Charlebois, told AFP. This led to higher food prices.

“This year saw extremes,” he said, noting a Canadian record high temperature of 49.6 degrees Celsius in the town of Lytton in British Columbia. Later, it was destroyed by wildfires.

Subsequent flood devastation in British Columbia showed that Canada’s westward supply links, Charlebois said, “are very, very vulnerable, and not resilient enough to climate change. “

Heavy rains disrupted shipping

Because of the drought, meanwhile, mustard seed production in the prairies was halved this year to almost 50,000 metric tonnes, from 2020.

As a result, the average price is expected to double to “a record $1,700 (1,510 euros) per tonne,” according to a Canadian agriculture ministry report.

After November’s heavy rains and mudslides, trains to and from Vancouver’s Pacifc coast port have been rolling again. Three kilometers of cars were pulled behind locomotives to clear the shipping backlog.

The French region of Burgundy is home to the majority of mustard producers, but it heavily depends on Canadian farmers for the strong, tangy condiment that is loved around the globe.

Commodity markets analyst Ramzy Yelda noted that droughts in Western Canada occur every 10-15 years on average, but this year’s “was particularly brutal. “

” I don’t think that we’re done dealing with severe weather conditions,” Currie said. Currie said, “We’re going see them more often. “

On the flip side, it was a banner year for Canadian potato producers who harvested 123,000,000 hundredweight of potatoes, up 18 percent from the prior year.

The United Potato Growers of Canada stated that most provinces enjoyed “excellent harvest conditions” this year, despite the cold temperatures and wet conditions. “

But record rains in British Columbia trapped motorists in deadly floods, forcing thousands of people to flee their homes. The downpours also destroyed bridges, roads and rail lines in November, thereby cutting off access to Vancouver.

This caused disruptions in exports from Canada’s largest port.

A container ship sits docked at the Port of Vancouver in November 2021 as dozens of ships wait in the harbour to pick up and unload shipments. Heavy rains and flooding caused a huge backlog.

To avoid running out, McDonald’s Japan restaurants announced that they would sell only small-sized French fries starting Friday.

“Due to large-scale flooding near the Port of Vancouver… and the global supply chain crunch caused by the coronavirus pandemic, there are delays in the supply of potatoes,” it said in a statement on Tuesday.

The port had moved record volumes of grain (and cargo) by midyear, up 20 percent to 16.5 million metric tonnes compared to the first six months of 2020, to meet strong demand overseas.

But there was a huge backlog that accumulated over several weeks, beginning in November.

Monday’s port announcement stated that disruptions to rail services had “decreased substantially” and that shipping volumes had “stabilized.”

(c) 2021 AFP

Citation:
Mustard, fries in short supply due to Canada climate woes (2021, December 25)
retrieved 26 December 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-12-mustard-fries-short-due-canada.html

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