National Newswatch

Specific Eastern Canadian issues need to be addressed.


Ottawa—Farm groups are setting out very clear objectives for the kinds of changes that Agriculture Canada needs to make to keep the Canada Grain Act (CGA) and the Canadian Grain Commission (CFC) in step with modern farming and marketing.

The department will be busy for quite a while going through all the recommendations and proposals pouring in from the farm groups in highly detailed and lengthy submissions.

CFA says the Act guides the Commission in its mandate “to maintain standards of quality for Canadian grain, regulate grain handing in Canada and ensure a dependable commodity for domestic and export markets.”

While changes may be required to its mandate through legislation or government order, the goal must be “strengthening the CGA mandate of working in the best interest of primary producers.”

CFA set out five principles that should guide the review:

–no dilution of the voice, empowerment, and protection of producers;

–a clear analysis and understanding of the business case must proceed any changes to the role of the CGC the position of farmers;

–no additional risk to farmers to farmers;

–The CGC must maintain its legislative authority, maintain, and build Canada’s international reputation, guarantee farmers a position of power in the value chain, and foster trust between farmers and grain companies;

–The CGC should use its authority to improve farmers’ position in the grain value chain;

–The CGC should put more confidence and trust in the recommendations from the Eastern and Western Standards Committees and, in the work done by the Ontario Cereal Crops Committee on varietal registrations in Ontario.

Grain Growers said it has been more than 35 years since the last major overhaul of the Act and review of Commission operations. The grains sector has substantially evolved and “the Act has not kept pace with these changes while also imposing higher costs to farms. This is coupled with the fact that CGC has become increasingly out of touch with the needs of our sector.”

Agriculture Canada needs “to define the gold standard for grain quality in Canada and uphold our global reputation as a trusted supplier of grain.” A modernized legislative and regulatory framework “is needed to create an agile and responsive CGC that drives agriculture’s competitiveness, reduces regulatory red tape, and ensures high-quality grain for domestic and export markets,” Grain Growers said.

Its 14 member organizations set out priority areas tor the review to look into including the CGC’s mandate, governance, funding and services. Other important topics are outward weighing and inspection, producer protection provisions, producer payment security, the Western and Eastern Standards Committee, embedding more transparency and accountability into the system and dealing with the accumulated surplus.

CFA identified issues of specific concern to Eastern Canadian grain farmers who have been challenged over the past few years by technical issues that may have some bearing on the modernization of the CGA or the Commission.

As well establishing a process for establishing Canada’s eastern wheat classes, there should be a withdrawal of the mandatory declaration of variety for all grain delivered in Eastern Canada. “The value of mandatory declarations is questionable from both a regulatory and business perspective,” for Easter grains.

Payment security should be extended to include Ontario and Quebec for interprovincial grain sales, CFA said. As well, the Commission should have regulatory authority to monitor corn quality within the grain quality monitoring program.

Alex Binkley is a freelance journalist and writes for domestic and international publications about agriculture, food and transportation issues. He’s also the author of two science fiction novels with more in the works.
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