Producer Guide to the National Voluntary Farm-Level Biosecurity Standard for the Grains and Oilseeds Industry - A Guide for Implementing Proactive Biosecurity into Farm Management
Appendix A: Background to Biosecurity

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What is Biosecurity?

Biosecurity refers to a series of management practices designed to prevent, minimize and control the introduction, spread and release of plant pests, which include insects, nematodes, weeds, molluscs, bacteria, fungi and viruses (hereafter referred to as pests).

Why Adopt or Implement Biosecurity Measures?

The grains and oilseeds industry currently consists of the twenty-one crops defined under the Canada Grain Act (barley, oats, rye, triticale, wheat, canola, flaxseed, mustard, rapeseed, safflower seed, solin, soybeans, sunflower seed, beans, chick peas, fababeans, lentils, peas, mixed grain, buckwheat, and corn), as well as unofficial grains, for example, canary seed, kamut, spelt, and quinoa.

This industry is one of the largest in Canadian agriculture. It is in the interest of every farmer to protect their crops from pests, such as khapra beetle, karnal bunt, dwarf bunt, soybean cyst nematode, clubroot, blackleg in canola, and woolly cup grass. Moreover, exports of grains and oilseeds from Canada in 2010-11 amounted to approximately $15.6 billion. In addition to the export market, the domestic industry that processes grains to produce such products as flour, vegetable oil, meal, ethanol, malt and other value-added products, adds appreciably to the Canadian economy. Processed grains and oilseeds product exports were $5.8 billion in 2010-11. Canadian grain production is also used for livestock feed.

Given the economic significance of this industry, the biosecurity measures needed to protect against the introduction and spread of pests are relevant not only to the grains and oilseeds industry, but will indirectly affect other sectors of the economy such as tourism and the service sector.

From the farmer's perspective, there are several differing frames of reference when considering biosecurity risk management:

  • What are my business objectives in maintaining markets and accessing new markets?
  • What do my customers demand for biosecurity practices and procedures?
  • How can I avoid the introduction of a biosecurity risk that I currently do not have?
  • How can I contain and minimize the biosecurity risks that I already have?
  • What are my responsibilities to my neighbours and my industry to ensure I am not the point of introduction of a biosecurity risk to someone else?

Capacity to Manage Biosecurity Risks

Drifting of soil infested with pests, air-borne pathogens from neighbouring fields, field borders that are not maintained, and water erosion are significant threats to grains and oilseeds production. It is recognized that some vectors are more easily managed than others. Vectors such as wind, water, and wildlife, can be difficult to control. However, the resulting risks such as pest establishment and spread within the farm may be minimized by implementing biosecurity practices.

The farm-level biosecurity standard and the guidance document focus specifically on farm management practices within the control of the farmer at the production or farm activity level. Examples of management practices that can help mitigate biosecurity risk are:

  • Care in sourcing, transportation and handling of input supplies
  • Minimization of soil and plant material movement
  • Monitoring the movement of people, vehicles, and equipment
  • Cleaning of equipment
  • Timely field scouting
  • Beneficial crop production practices
  • Communication, training, and record-keeping

The Process Used in the Development of a Guidance Document

In February 2011, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), in collaboration with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and the Canada Grains Council, identified and established a Grains and Oilseeds Biosecurity Advisory Group (including members of AAFC, the Canadian Grain Commission, provincial governments, grains and oilseeds industry organizations and farmers) to guide the development of a National Voluntary Farm-Level Biosecurity Standard and the Producer Guide to the National Voluntary Farm-Level Biosecurity Standard for the Grains and Oilseeds Industry.

The National Voluntary Farm-Level Biosecurity Standard for the Grains and Oilseeds Industry identifies a series of desired outcomes in the pursuit of minimizing biosecurity risks for each farm and the broader agricultural community. This is a separate document.

This Producer Guide to the National Voluntary Farm-Level Biosecurity Standard for the Grains and Oilseeds Industry: A Guide for implementing Proactive Biosecurity into Farm Management has also been developed to provide a series of farm management approaches that may be considered in order to achieve the desired outcome described in the Standard. The development process has included:

  • A literature review of relevant and related topics
  • A systematic gap analysis of existing farm level programs to identify current knowledge and best practices
  • Farmer consultation to identify current practices and best practices that have been adopted by grains and oilseed farmers from all regions of Canada
  • Ongoing feedback and input from the advisory group, CFIA, industry leaders and subject area experts
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