The Agricultural Growth Act (Bill C-18) was recently passed by Canada’s House of Commons and is now in its final stages of becoming law. It has passed second reading in the Senate and was referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture and Forestry on December 9, 2014. The final stages will be for the bill to receive a third reading in the Senate and for an order to be made declaring the amendments in force. Review our summary of the provisions of the Act as introduced.
The Agricultural Growth Act updates and amends several pieces of Canadian agricultural legislation, including the:
- Plant Breeders’ Rights Act
- Feeds Act
- Fertilizers Act
- Seeds Act
- Health of Animals Act
- Plant Protection Act
- Agriculture and Agri-Food Administrative Monetary Penalties Act
- Agricultural Marketing Programs Act
- Farm Debt Mediation Act
The most notable amendments made by the Agricultural Growth Act are those affecting the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act. Plant breeders are defined as people or companies who originate or who discover and develop a new plant variety. The new provisions bring Canada’s legislation up to date with the most recent international agreement of the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (“UPOV”). Canada ratified the 1978 UPOV Convention but has not yet ratified the UPOV 1991 Convention; the amendments would allow Canada to move toward implementation of UPOV 1991.
The amendments to the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act strengthen the rights of plant breeders and modernize the legislation in Canada applicable to those rights. They also allow plant breeders to charge royalties in new ways for the plants and seeds they develop. While strengthening the rights of plant breeders to protect their innovative plant varieties and profit from their research and development of new crops, the amendments also protect the “farmer’s privilege,” which allows farmers to produce, reproduce, condition, and stock harvested material (seeds, plants or their parts) that is grown by a farmer on the farmer’s own land and used by the farmer on that land for the sole purpose of replanting.
The amendments to the Feeds Act, Fertilizers Act, Seeds Act, Health of Animals Act, and Plant Protection Act are designed to provide additional protection to human health, animal health, plant health, and the environment by giving the federal government and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency greater powers surrounding the inspection, monitoring, and regulation of feeds, fertilizers, seeds, and similar products. Under these amendments, the government will be able to make new regulations establishing standards and creating inspection marks for products covered by these acts. In particular, the importation or exportation of feeds, fertilizers, and other products (including inter-provincial sales) will be subject to a more sophisticated licensing and inspection regime. Imports and exports will be removed or destroyed if they pose a health or environmental threat, and regulatory offenses are set out in the amendments for contravention of the acts or conduct resulting in a threat to health or the environment that falls within the purview of the legislation.
The amendments to the Agriculture and Agri-Food Administrative Monetary Penalties Act, Agricultural Marketing Programs Act, and the Farm Debt Mediation Act focus on improving accessibility, reducing red tape, and streamlining the resolution process for mediation proceedings arising out of the “Advance Payments Program” for farmers. The Advance Payments Program is a cash advance program that gives farmers access to loans through producer organizations that are guaranteed by the Canadian government and secured by agricultural products being produced or in storage.