New grain code of practice aimed at increasing public trust, not paperwork

Stock photo, taken at the Lacombe Field Crop Development Centre by Debra Murphy, 2016.

The new code of practice being developed for grain farms across Canada is aimed at proactively building public trust, potentially mitigating the need for increased paperwork and regulations down the road, according to the vice-chair of the Canada Grains Council.

The voluntary code of practice — being created by the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Crops — will establish a baseline standard of sustainability practices that are followed on Canadian farms, explains Rick White, who also serves as the CEO of the Canadian Canola Growers Association.

“It’s a documentation of the best practices to be followed to show the sustainability practices farmers are already doing,” he says, in the interview below. “That document will help give farmers ideas of how they can improve over the course of time, and it’s a great piece to show consumers and buyers around the world. ‘This is a code of practice that Canadian farmers are behind and this is the culture or the way they do things.'”

The words “standard” and “codes of practice” might lead to expectations of audits, additional paperwork, and new regulations — a more European-like environment for farming, but White says that will not be the case.

“We have those same concerns in terms of being pushed into a European model, either by the market or by the government,” he says. “This is all about building public trust…to avoid going down that road where Europe has gone. We are already doing all those good environmental practices. We don’t need to be regulated into it. We can show the government and our customers that we’re already doing the good things. We just have to tell them through this Code of Practice.”

Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announced $789,558 in funding at CropConnect in Winnipeg last week for the Canada Grains Council to invest in the grain code of practice.

Former federal MP Ted Menzies is leading the committee developing the code, which will cover a range of topics, including fertilizer management, pesticide use, soil management, human resources on farms, and protection of wildlife habitat, as well as food safety and work safety.

Listen to Rick White discuss the new code of practice, as well as the impact of the coronavirus on Canada’s canola trade dispute with China, and the record uptake of the CCGA’s cash advance program — a sign of the cash flow challenges farmers are facing this winter:

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