New Agricultural Growth Act Tabled; Includes Changes to Cash Advance Program & More

Sarah Foster 2012

Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Gerry Ritz was on hand at the Canterra Seeds warehouse in Winnipeg, Man., to announce the tabling of Bill C-18, the Agricultural Growth Act. The Act addresses a total of nine areas where Canada’s regulations need “modernizing, amending and streamlining of processes”. While there isn’t a monetary figure attached to the bill, Ritz estimates the increased investment and efficiency gained will be in the “tens of millions of dollars.”

While the Act includes changes to several aspects of Canadian agriculture, the commitment to bring Canada in line with UPOV 91 is garnering the most attention. However, there are two other key areas that will impact farmers — one in the immediate term, one in the medium term.

Hear more: Peter Entz talks about seed royalties under UPOV 91 here, and Dave Hansen talks about the impact to agriculture here.

Changes to the Cash Advance Program:

The bill also amends the Agricultural Marketing Programs Act (AMPA) and the Farm Debt Mediation Act (FDMA). Of note, the federal government plans to “simplify delivery and ease access to the Advance Payments Program for producers” and allow for one application to span as much as five years, though there are no changes to the amounts allowed in the cash advance program.

Other changes include:

  • 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, according to AAFC.

Allowing Foreign Research Data for Registration:

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, says AAFC.

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.

For the full press release and backgrounder associated with Bill C-18, click here.

If you cannot see the embedded video, click here.

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