Questions and Answers: Agricultural Growth Act

C-18 – General

What is changing under the Agricultural Growth Act?

The Agricultural Growth Act updates the following suite of Acts that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) uses to regulate Canada's agriculture sector: Plant Breeders Rights Act, Feeds Act, Fertilizers Act, Seeds Act, Health of Animals Act, Plant Protection Act, and the Agriculture and Agri-Food Administrative Monetary Penalties Act. It also amends improvements to the Agricultural Marketing Programs Act and Farm Debt Mediation Act, which are administered by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC).

When will changes come into effect?

Many provisions will take effect as soon as the Act comes into force, including all of the provisions under the Plant Breeders' Rights Act (PBRA). Other changes will require the implementation of regulations, and the regulatory amendments follow the normal government regulatory process. Before any changes are implemented through regulatory changes, the government is committed to full consultations to determine how best to move forward.

How will AGA reduce red tape?

Changes to the PBRA will improve accessibility to intellectual property protection for new plant varieties. Changes to the Feeds Act and Fertilizers Act will allow the CFIA to make regulations allowing for the licencing and registration of operators and facilities (instead of product-by-product). This provides an alternative, effective and timely approach to regulating the production of agricultural products that meet Canada's rigorous safety and other standards.

How will the proposed changes ensure greater regulatory consistency in the CFIA?

The Agricultural Growth Act provides modern and appropriate authorities to manage today's risks to food and agricultural products, while ensuring that Canadian industry has continued opportunities in international trading markets. Canada's existing food and agriculture statutes have served Canadians well, but the time has come to have a stronger and modernized legislative structure that reflects current realities.

Regulatory consistency at the CFIA will be strengthened by aligning the provisions and powers in the agricultural statutes, as well as modelling them on those in the Safe Food for Canadians Act. Having similar authorities and inspector powers across the entire set of statutes will help promote a consistent approach to inspection, and provide a predictable environment with predictability for regulated parties.

Plant Breeders' Rights/UPOV

What is UPOV?

The International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (commonly known by its French acronym "UPOV") sets the international standard for plant breeders' rights, a form of intellectual property protection specifically for new plant varieties. Over 70 countries and 2 intergovernmental organizations are members of UPOV. Membership in UPOV allows a country to fulfill its obligations for protecting plant varieties under the World Trade Organization (WTO). Plant breeders must apply for protection in each country and are subject to the level of protection legislated in that country. Many plant breeders only sell their new plant varieties in countries that meet the level of protection provided by the most recent version of the Convention, UPOV'91. Canada will become more competitive and farmers will have greater access to new plant varieties once the Plant Breeders Rights' Act is updated to and UPOV'91 is ratified.

How will farmers benefit from UPOV'91?

The legislative basis for providing intellectual property protection for plant varieties must keep pace as new agricultural production techniques and new developments in science arrive. This is especially true since other international trading partners have already ratified the UPOV'91 Convention. Ratifying UPOV'91 allows Canada's farmers access to new varieties of plants that have been bred to enhance crop yields, improve disease and drought resistance and meet specific market demands.

Farmers and breeders will benefit under a modern intellectual property framework now that the Agricultural Growth Act has received Royal Assent and the PBR Act has been amended.

Can farmers still save seed for planting under UPOV'91?

Yes, the Agricultural Growth Act includes the UPOV'91 provision, known as the "farmer's privilege". This secures a farmer's right to save seed for future planting. Farmer's privilege is entrenched in the changes to the PBRA. Canadian farmers will be able to continue saving, cleaning, treating, storing and replanting seed of protected varieties on their own land.

Learn more about changes to the Plant Breeders' Rights Act.

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