Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz has announced a new bill to help stimulate investment in Canada’s agricultural industry and to deliver new tools and services to Canadian growers. The Agricultural Growth Act is expected to increase producer access to new varieties, create new trade opportunities, contribute to the safety of agricultural products and reduce red tape in terms of regulations.
Key changes being proposed are amendments to the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act to align with the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV ‘91) from Canada’s current legislation, which uses the UPOV ‘78 framework. The amendments, part of the UPOV ’91 framework, also allows for the protection of farm-saved seed, which permits growers to use seeds from the crops they grow. However, the minister noted that there will not be any changes to Canada’s variety registration process.
According to Ritz, the proposed amendments will strengthen intellectual property rights for plant breeding in Canada as well as further investment in Canadian seed research and development. “The hope is to have UPOV ’91 adopted by Canada by the new crop year, Aug. 1, 2014,” said Ritz. “We need to bring legislation in line with the needs of today, and we are committed to making this happen.”
The bill also provides the Canadian Food Inspection Agency with the authority to consider foreign reviews, as well as data and analyses during approval/registration of new agricultural products in Canada.
The Act includes a new licensing and registration structure 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 the safety of ag products.
The bill also amends the Agricultural Marketing Programs Act to simplify delivery and provide easy access to the Advance Payments Program for producers.
If the Act receives royal assent, some of the changes could come into force almost immediately, while others would be phased in or require regulatory amendments.