Ottawa activates consultations on Grain Act

Government will collect online feedback until April on how to modernize legislation that was last overhauled in 1971

Consultations on updates to the Canada Grain Act are finally underway.

The federal government announced in Budget 2019 that the legislation, which sets out Canadian Grain Commission operations, would be reviewed.

Agriculture minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said Jan. 12 that officials were ready to hear the grain industry’s thoughts on how the act should be reformed.

It was last overhauled in 1971 and numerous attempts to modernize it have died on the order paper, including in 2015 when an election was called.

Bibeau said feedback will be collected online until April 30.

“Our government is inviting Canadian producers, grain handlers, processors and exporters to share their views on possible changes to the Canada Grain Act,” Bibeau said in a news release. “Together, we will help shape an innovative and modern regulatory system that safeguards grain farmers, grows Canada’s reputation for grain quality and helps our grain industry compete with the world.”

The online discussion document highlights several issues the government believes are of interest. These include access to binding determination of grade and dockage, producer payment protection, CGC licensing and official inspection and weighing.

However, the review is not limited to these topics.

When the review was first announced, grain industry leaders said they welcomed it but expected it would take a while given another upcoming election.

Cereals Canada then-president and now chief strategy officer Cam Dahl said at the time that much of the background work is done so the review shouldn’t take long.

Grain Growers of Canada said they had no particular requests but creating efficiency and reducing farmers’ costs were important.

The double inspection of about 80 percent of shipments at ports was a concern, and most of the industry wants an end to mandatory outward inspection.

The act is the legislative and regulatory framework governing Canadian grain quality assurance. CGC operations are part of the act, including grain quality, research and safeguards for farmers.

The document notes that the grain industry has changed significantly in 50 years.

Production has increased from 69 million tonnes in 2010 to 93 million tonnes in 2020, and the volume delivered to licensed facilities was 62 million tonnes in 2019-20, compared to 40 million tonnes in 2009-10.

Exports from CGC-licensed facilities were 44.3 million tonnes last year, compared to 30.8 million tonnes in 2009-10.

The government also said the review will complement the Agri-food and Aquaculture Regulatory Review Roadmap and the Economic Strategy Table for Agri-food.

The roadmap was announced in Budget 2018 measures to target areas where bottlenecks could impede economic growth and innovation.

To link to the discussion document and offer feedback, go to www.agr.gc.ca.

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