According to Anne Fowlie, executive vice president of the Canadian Horticultural Council, the council has had a busy year. CHC has been closely monitoring many files, including The Agricultural Growth Act (Bill C-18) as it makes its way through the House of Commons.
CHC is also involved with the Regulatory Cooperation Council in regard to the Financial Protection of Produce Sellers action item.
Bill C-18 has now passed Second Reading in the House of Commons. The Act includes financial programs, trade opportunities and greater access to new crop varieties through Plant Breeders’ Rights. Bill C-18 will bring the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act into compliance with the requirements of the 1991 Act of the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV ’91).
“We’ve been talking about this change for years so Canada and Canadian farmers are on the same playing field globally,” said Fowlie. CHC has been monitoring the process as a member of Partners in Innovation, a coalition of agricultural sector groups who have a significant interest in plant breeders’ rights.
CHC is also a member of the Fresh Produce Alliance, along with Canadian Produce Marketing Association and the Dispute Resolution Corporation. The alliance has been working with the RCC on the Financial Protection of Produce Sellers action item. That item’s focus is to develop a tool which will provide a similar outcome as is available through the U.S. Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act.
“It’s been a long standing need for Canada’s produce industry and certainly a trade irritant for our U.S. colleagues and competitors that there is no PACA-like tool in Canada,” Fowlie noted. Although there has been some progress made as the Canadian Food Inspection Agency moves to a single or unified licensing regime as part of the Agency’s overall modernization initiative (Safe Food For Canadians Act), there is still no solution to ensuring payment in case of buyer insolvency.
“We need further progress,” said Fowlie. “The comment period for the statutory review of the Bankruptcy Insolvency Act concluded recently and a report will be tabled in the House of Commons this fall, at which time it will be assigned a standing committee. The members of the Fresh Produce Alliance will make a formal presentation at that time.”