It appears that original registrants of pesticides in Canada have done an effective job of spreading a message that is patently untrue, contrary to market reality and flying in the face of what is happening in other countries.
This is impeding Canadian farmers’ access to a whole array of lower cost generic pesticides such as they have in the United States. Let me explain.
Readers of this ubiquitous agriculture newspaper are well aware of the diligent and ongoing efforts of concerned stakeholders to modify generic registration regulation and improve the Pest Management Regulatory Agency’s management of that regulation.
There are also efforts to eliminate a rather glaring contradiction between protection of proprietary information on pesticides policy and PPIP regulation, perpetrated on us by the architects of the same.
However, according to certain reliable sources, rhetoric spread by certain original registrants and organizations representing those same companies is helping paralyze the process, confuse the PMRA and affect the willingness of some farm organizations to fight for massive cost savings for farmers.
The rhetoric is that “if you change the regulations, if you make it easier to register generics in Canada, we will stop investing in Canada.”
That is ludicrous and will never happen. If someone ever tells you that, call them on it.
Some of the same companies that would have you believe this threat cheerfully operate in countries such as Ukraine, where there is an $850 million market and no compensable data legislation. Canada has a $2.5 billion market and mandatory data compensation.
The companies that invest in the registration of original products are not going anywhere.
Furthermore, no one has ever questioned or tried to undermine the main pillars of protection for original products and the registrants of those products, which is a 10 year exclusive period and fair compensation for legitimate data.
Beyond those basic protections, however, maximum effort should be exerted to promote the PMRA’s own policy guideline: “Favourable conditions for generic pesticide producers to enter the pesticide market and to increase the selection of products available to the user.”
Why would we want to relieve original registrants of the responsibility of being more competitive at the expense of farmer competitiveness when everyone else in Canada, re-gardless of the industry, has to sharpen their pencil?
The federal government clearly gets it, demonstrated by its recent budget, which included government intentions ”to introduce legislation to address price discrimination that is not justified by higher operating costs in Canada and to empower the commissioner of competition to enforce the new framework.”
Farmers are justified in being frustrated at a regulatory agency that does not comply with the government agenda of helping farmers be more cost competitive or at anyone that does not advocate more favourable conditions to increase the selection of products available to farmers.
Farm organizations need to ignore the empty threats made by these companies. The PMRA should know better.
Farmers face a far bigger threat. Some generics have already pulled out of the process because Canada is one of the most difficult countries in the world in which to register a generic pesticide.
The paralysis at the PMRA is costing Canadian farmers hundreds of millions of dollars a year, which is the result of one of the biggest hoaxes ever perpetuated in the Canadian agriculture industry. Don’t allow the farm organizations that represent you be a party to it.
Bob Friesen is the chief executive officer of Farmers of North America Strategic Agriculture Institute.