CFIA continues ‘aggressive’ regulatory

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is continuing work on broad regulatory reviews and changes over the next year, according to its 2020-21 plan.

In outlining its priorities for the year, the organization states it has an ambitious agenda for plant and animal regulations, “that moves away from the traditional prescriptive regulations of the past towards a more nimble, preventive, modern regulatory approach that can anticipate and adapt to the dynamic environment in which we operate.”

It says it will aggressively move forward with regulatory changes for agricultural inputs, including fertilizers, feed and seed, as well as livestock traceability and food labelling.

An update of fertilizer regulations with the goal of facilitating market access and reducing administrative burden will continue throughout the year, with a three-year transition period to allow stakeholders time to adjust. Updating product definitions and compositional criteria for fertilizer and supplement materials will be a key part of those changes.

CFIA will also start working on a full traceability system, “to ensure consumers have the information they need to make informed choices.”

By spring 2021, new regulations for livestock traceability are expected. The proposed regulation change would introduce the requirement to report domestic movement of cattle, bison, sheep, goat, and cervids.

New regulations will also require the identification of premises where livestock are kept, and reduce the required time period to report the movement, slaughter and disposal of livestock.

In the fall, proposed changes to regulations around plant breeders’ rights will be introduced, with the goal of improving “accessibility to the intellectual property framework, which is designed to encourage increased investment in plant breeding in Canada and foster greater accessibility to foreign seed varieties for farmers.”

A review of the approval process for crops developed using biotechnology will also begin. According to CFIA, the review will, “focus on minimizing regulatory burden while improving the predictability and clarity of the regulatory system for both domestic and international stakeholders. The changes will enable businesses to plan with greater confidence and, consequently, support investment and innovation in Canada.”

Proposals resulting from the review will be brought forward throughout the year for consultation.

Final regulations on food labelling will be brought forward around the same time. Regulatory changes focused on labelling requirements of date marking, food company information and origin labelling for imported food were brought forward in 2019.

Those changes, aimed at protecting consumers, will be finalized in the fall and according to CFIA will, “reflect the feedback received from a broad range of stakeholders.”

The federal inspection agency is continuing a focus on innovation in 2020-21: inspectors will be given more modern inspection tools and the use of artificial intelligence may be introduced.

CFIA is also continuing its efforts that began in 2019 to fully digitize export certificates.

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