Canada has modernized its fertilizer regulations and that should smooth the way for more innovative new products, says an industry official.
“It’s going to streamline the registration process and registrations are going to last longer,” said Clyde Graham, executive vice-president of Fertilizer Canada.
Regulations Amending the Fertilizers Regulations were published in the Canada Gazette Part II at the end of October.
Fertilizer Canada has been working with industry officials and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for nearly a decade to update the regulations.
The new rules will mainly effect novel products such as micronutrients, inoculants, biostimulants and nitrification inhibitors.
Most fertilizers applied in Canada are regulated but do not require registration, such as traditional nitrogen, phosphate and potash products.
“They don’t require registration because their value and safety have been well established,” said Graham.
That will continue to be the case, although the list of those exempt products will now be maintained outside of the Fertilizers Regulations.
That means it will be easier to add products to that list. It will be an administrative procedure rather than one requiring a regulatory process.
But the biggest change will be for products not on the exempt list. Products that have been used safely for years will face less regulatory scrutiny.
There will be more attention on novel products.
“It’s kind of a risk-based process to regulatory oversight,” said Graham.
Another big change is that product registrations will now last for five years rather than three years.
The changes are expected to ease some of the regulatory burden on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), freeing up resources to create a speedier system of reviewing and approving novel, innovative fertilizer products.
The CFIA has service delivery standards and timelines for reviewing new products. Those timelines were challenged a few years ago when there was a backlog of products in the queue.
“It’s going to help ensure that the CFIA can meet those service delivery standards so companies have certainty as to how quickly it will take to get their products into the marketplace,” said Graham.
The revamped regulations should benefit farmers by ensuring companies want to continue developing and marketing innovative fertilizer products in Canada, he said.
Graham said it will take a while to implement the changes but fertilizer manufacturers and agri-retailers are eager to work with the CFIA on phasing in some of the changes.
“The regulations are in force and the benefits should start coming for Canadian agriculture,” he said.
“These changes recognize that there’s new technology coming into the marketplace and it’s important that farmers have access to that technology in a timely manner but at the same time the safety of those products has to be established.”