Pesticide import regulations ‘being skirted,’ says CropLife

Concerns have surfaced surrounding a program that allows farmers to import certain pesticides from the United States.

In an article he wrote for the June 2010 issue ofPulsePointmagazine, Mark Goodwin, pest management co-ordinator for Pulse Canada, said the Grower Requested Own Use (GROU) import program was in jeopardy.

He warned growers that the program was not intended for Canadian dealers and distributors to become buyers and resellers of imported product.

“Growers should be aware that if they are purchasing the actual product directly from a Canadian entity instead of a U.S. dealer, this is not within the constraints for GROU and there is a chance the program could be discontinued.”

Peter MacLeod, vice-president of chemistry with CropLife Canada, said his member companies support the GROU program but they are hearing reports of people bringing in product and selling it in Canada.

“There are program rules that are being skirted,” said MacLeod.

If GROU can’t be properly policed, CropLife will encourage the Pest Management Regulatory Agency to curtail the program.

Since writing hisPulsePointarticle, Goodwin attended a GROU meeting in Ottawa that put his mind at ease.

“I’m a lot less worried about that now than before,” he said.

Goodwin said PMRA officials assured meeting participants that they are developing GROU regulations that will ensure the program adheres to its original intent.

Bob Friesen, vice-president of government affairs for Farmers of North America, is confident the regulations won’t rule out participation of third party facilitators like his organization.

Friesen thinks the regulations will make it illegal to sell at retail product brought in from the U.S. through GROU but it would not be illegal to assist growers in getting it across the border.

GROU is the successor to the Own Use Import program, a seldom-used PMRA program that sprang to life in 2005 when Farmers of North America used it to import ClearOut 41 Plus glyphosate.

Farmers imported 19.5 million litres of ClearOut over the three-year lifespan of the OUI program.

GROU hasn’t been as popular as the OUI program despite offering farmers a more extensive list of 25 products they can import from the United States.

Growers used it sparingly in the first two years, but volumes rose this spring after Pursuit appeared on the list of products. Farmers have brought in 49,031 litres plus an additional 70 kilograms of pesticides.

Friesen said FNA members filled out 400 of the 486 Pursuit permit applications. Bringing the chemical in from the U.S. has saved FNA members $4 to $8 per acre.

He worries that chemical companies will take steps to neuter the program now that it is being used more frequently.

The FNA is pushing the PMRA to include a clause in the proposed regulations that keeps the Own Use Import program intact as a backup in case GROU is rendered useless.

MacLeod believes the new GROU regulations will be in place this fall.

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