Government of Canada

Government of Canada

December 09, 2013 15:17 ET

Harper Government Proposes Changes to Support Agricultural Sector Growth Through Modernization

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Dec. 9, 2013) - Today, the Government of Canada introduced a new bill that will stimulate investment and innovation in Canada's agriculture sector and give Canadian farmers more tools to compete and thrive in world markets and at home.

The Agricultural Growth Act will increase farmers' access to new crop varieties, enhance trade opportunities and the safety of agricultural products, reduce red tape and contribute to Canada's overall economic growth.

"Our government is committed to supporting Canada's farmers and our world-class agriculture industry so they can remain competitive in world markets," said Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. "Armed with the latest science, tools and practices, our agriculture sector will continue to be an important driver of Canada's economy."

Among the key changes being proposed in this bill are amendments to the Plant Breeders' Rights Act (PBR Act) to align with the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV '91) which would update Canada's legislation from the outdated UPOV '78 framework. The amendments would include Farmer's Privilege which allows farmers to use seeds from the crops they grow.

Strengthening the intellectual property rights for plant breeding in Canada will encourage investment in Canadian research and development. That will give Canadian farmers more access to new and innovative seed varieties, which could enhance crop yield, improve disease and drought resistance, and meet specific global trade demands.

To help Canadian farmers benefit from the latest scientific research from around the world, the bill also provides the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) with the authority to consider foreign reviews, data and analyses during the approval or registration of new agricultural products in Canada, allowing for a more effective approvals process.

"Agriculture worldwide is evolving in response to growing global populations and demand," said Bev Shipley, MP for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex and Chair of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food. "Knowing that, our government will continue to provide better tools and services to help Canadian farmers prosper on world markets and serve the needs of Canadians."

The Act includes a new licensing and registration regime for animal feed and fertilizer operators and establishments, increased monetary penalties for violations, stronger controls for agricultural products at the border and requirements for more stringent record keeping to enhance safety.

The bill also amends the Agricultural Marketing Programs Act (AMPA) and the Farm Debt Mediation Act (FDMA). The proposed changes are designed to:

  • Simplify delivery and ease access to the Advance Payments Program for producers
  • Allow for multi-year advance guarantee agreements and repayment agreements with administrators improving delivery
  • Expand the use of cash repayments
  • Provide greater flexibility and options for what will be accepted as security allowing producers to secure larger advances
  • Provide flexibility allowing breeding animals to be eligible under the program
  • Adjust the rules related to the repayment of advances, producers in default, default penalties and stays of default
  • Expedite processing under the Farm Debt Mediation Act giving producers quicker resolutions.

These amendments follow extensive consultations with producers and industry and will be cost-neutral for the industry.

Backgrounder

Agricultural Growth Act: Supporting Canada's agriculture industry through effective government

The Government is committed to supporting Canada's farmers and our world-class agriculture industry, to ensure they remain competitive on world markets and serve the needs of Canadians.

The Agricultural Growth Act is a bill designed to modernize and strengthen federal agriculture legislation, support innovation in the Canadian agriculture industry and enhance global market opportunities. The bill proposes changes to the suite of statutes that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) uses to regulate our agricultural sector:

  • Plant Breeders' Rights Act (PBR Act)
  • Feeds Act
  • Fertilizers Act
  • Seeds Act
  • Health of Animals Act
  • Plant Protection Act
  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Administrative Monetary Penalties Act

The bill also amends the Agricultural Marketing Programs Act (AMPA) and Farm Debt Mediation Act (FDMA) which fall under the purview of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC).

Supporting innovation

The proposed amendments will encourage innovation and research in Canada's agricultural sector. Some examples include:

  1. Strengthening intellectual property rights for plant varieties in Canada under the PBR Act to:
  • Encourage increased investment in plant breeding in Canada
  • Motivate international breeders to protect and sell their varieties here
  • Align current statute with the 1991 Convention of International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV 91).
  • Provide Canadian farmers with access to the latest innovative varieties that have been bred to enhance crop yields, improve disease and drought resistance and meet specific international market demands
  1. Expanding the authorities in the Feeds Act, Fertilizers Act, Health of Animals Act and Seeds Act to include international scientific research when approving new agricultural products in order to:
  • Create a regulatory environment that benefits from the latest scientific research by allowing international reviews, data and analysis to be considered along with information from ongoing Canadian studies
  • Support a more effective approvals process so that Canadian farmers can benefit from the latest scientific research from around the world
  • Reduce administrative burden and red tape

Modernizing and strengthening

The proposed amendments to the Feeds Act, Fertilizers Act, Health of Animals Act, Seeds Act and Plant Protection Act will reduce red tape and improve how Government carries out its business with the Canadian agriculture industry. Some examples include:

  1. Modernizing business processes to:
  • Enable more efficient and effective processes across all agricultural commodities
  • Increase consistency across the suite of CFIA agricultural statutes
  1. Strengthening inspector authorities to:
  • Provide the CFIA with stronger tools to fulfill its mandate to protect Canada's plant and animal resource base
  • Allow CFIA to order non-compliant agricultural products immediately out of Canada, which will also reassure our farmers and consumers that imported agricultural products meet CFIA requirements

Enhancing global market opportunities

The proposed amendments will enhance trade and grow Canada's economy. Some examples include:

  1. Revising the Plant Breeders' Rights Act (PBR Act) to support Canada's agriculture industry accessing the latest international plant varieties will:
  • Level the playing field for Canadian farmers on the global stage
  • Allow Canadian farmers to access varieties that are in global demand
  • Stimulate productivity for the sector, which benefits farmers and grows Canada's economy
  • Provide Canada's plant breeding industry with a more stable, modern intellectual property environment that is in line with international partners
  1. Amending the Feeds Act and Fertilizers Act to allow for licensing and registration of fertilizer and animal feed operators and facilities that import or sell products across provincial or international borders in order to:
  • Align Canadian legislation with that of key international trading partners
  • Help our feed and fertilizer industries maintain their export markets
  • Provide a more effective and timely approach to assuring products meet Canada's stringent safety and other standards

When would the proposed changes come into effect?

If the Act receives Royal Assent, some of the changes would come into force almost immediately, while others would be phased in or require regulatory amendments.

Before any changes are implemented, the government is committed to full consultations to determine how best to move forward.

Contact Information

  • Media Relations
    Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
    613-773-7972
    1-866-345-7972

    Canadian Food Inspection Agency
    613-773-6600

    Joel Taguchi
    Director of Communications
    The Office of Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture
    613-773-1059