The National Farmers Union (NFU) is concerned about a plan by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to move forward on increasing licensing and regulatory requirements on Canadian farms.
The CFIA plan, called Safe Food for Canadians Regulations, has been in process since the passing of the Safe Food for Canadians Act (2012). The NFU is in favour of measures that ensure the food we produce is safe for all. Farmers are consumers too and strive to produce good quality, safe food for other consumers. The NFU points out that the suite of regulations proposed will likely have negative effects on these farmers. A food safety issue, originating on a family farm could spell the end of that enterprise.
Farmers are subjected to a great number of regulations. This new set of regulations will apply to slaughterhouses as well as businesses that import food, process food for export and move food between provinces. For businesses with gross sales of over $30,000 per year, it is expected that, in addition to the licensing fee, the new regulations will cost each business over $6,000 per year.
These new regulations with the associated costs could put smaller vegetable and fresh fruit growers as well as organic growers in jeopardy. Many of these producers are our young farmers trying to get a foothold in the industry. A number of organic growers sell their produce at farmers’ markets outside their home province.
It appears that the incentive for the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations is to ensure clearance for the massive imports to Canada of fresh fruit and vegetables.
According to the CFIA website, between 2013 and 2017, there were 840 food recalls of which 22 were recalls of fresh fruit and vegetables. Only one of these recalls was from a Canadian farm, and this was the needle issue in P.E.I. potatoes.
Canadian farmers are clearly at a disadvantage as it is cheaper to import fresh fruit and vegetables from other countries. Imports of fruit and vegetables doubled between 2006 and 2015. Statistics show that it is in these imported products that the problems have arisen in the past. It is the food imports that need to be regulated. Instead the federal government has chosen to regulate everyone. Sadly there is no way for Canadian farmers to be reimbursed for the extra costs involved.
The National Farmers Union is suggesting that farmers and consumers alike, who are concerned about this, should contact their member of Parliament as well as send written submissions to Richard Arsenault, executive director, domestic food safety systems and meat hygiene directorate, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, 1400 Merivale Road, Tower 1, Ottawa, Ont., K1A 0Y9. Submissions can be sent by email to CFIA-Modernisation-ACIA@inspection.gc.ca. The deadline for submissions is April 21.
Director, District One