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Feds introduce Agricultural Growth Act

The new Act modernizes the sector and the feds say it will stimulate innovation and enhance economic growth


Ottawa – A new bill announced this week is expected to improve access to new crop varieties and enhance trade opportunities.

The federal government introduced the Agricultural Growth Act on Dec. 9 and says it will stimulate investment and innovation in Canada’s agricultural sector and give Canadian farmers more tools to compete and thrive in domestic and world markets.

The feds say the Act will increase farmer’s access to new crop varieties, enhance the safety of agricultural products, reduce red tape and contribute to Canada’s overall economic growth.

Amendments

The federal government has proposed various amendments, which came about after consultations with producers and industry and will be cost-neutral for the industry.

Among the key changes the federal government 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). This move would update Canada’s legislation form the outdated UPOV’78 framework.

The amendments would include Farmer’s Privilege, which allows farmers to use seeds from the crops they grow.

The feds say also that 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.

The bill also provides the Canadian Food Inspection Agency with the authority to consider foreign reviews, data and analyses during the approval or registration of new agricultural products in Canada, which can allow for more effective approvals process.

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).

These 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.