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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Canada Denies Russian Wheat Buy

OTTAWA -- Canadian officials said Wednesday it was unlikely Canada was buying high-quality Russian milling wheat despite a Moscow news report of a grain deal between the two countries.

Any Canadian purchase of milling wheat -- as opposed to lower-quality feed grain -- would be a surprising reversal of usual trade patterns.

First Deputy Agriculture Minister Anatoly Mikhalyov was quoted by Interfax in Moscow as saying Canada had decided to buy 12.6 million Canadian dollars' ($8 million) worth of Russian grain. But Bernard Badani, acting director of the grains and oilseed division at Agriculture Canada, said that while some small deals had been signed for the import of East European feed grain there was no evidence of any agreements to import milling wheat.

Officials also denied Canada was looking to import high-quality grains because a drought on the Prairies had severely cut Canada's crop yields.

A spokesman for Ralph Goodale, the Canadian minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board, said if the deal were confirmed it would likely be a private agreement but it was unlikely to involve milling wheat, the highest-quality wheat.

"At the moment it doesn't seem to be milling wheat," said the spokesman, Pat Breton.

He said to import such grain the Canadian Food Inspection Agency would have to provide an end-use certificate.

"They've received no applications that looks anything like this," he said. The possibility remained that it could involve lower grade feed wheat used for livestock rations.

Grain traders say this summer about 100,000 metric tons of feed grains were imported to eastern Canada via the ports of Montreal or Quebec City from the Black Sea region following the severe drought on the Prairies.

"This isn't the first time that eastern Canada has imported feed grain from Eastern Europe. That's just a feature of the feed grain market being very high-priced here. It's a competitive alternative," said Louise Waldman, a spokeswoman for the Canadian Wheat Board, the world's largest wheat and barley exporter but a small player in the global feed grain market.

Board officials said Wednesday they would press grain inspection authorities to closely monitor imports for foreign diseases and insects as the CWB uses some of the same port facilities.

The CWB rejected comments by Russian agricultural analysts that suggested Canada may need to import high quality grain to successfully cover export contracts.

The board has a government-granted monopoly on the export of all western Canadian wheat, barley and durum.