The Government of Canada introduced a new bill that will stimulate investment and innovation in Canada's agriculture sector and give Canadian farmers more tools to compete and thrive in world markets and at home.

The Agricultural Growth Act will increase farmers' access to new crop varieties, enhance trade opportunities and the safety of agricultural products, reduce red tape and contribute to Canada's overall economic growth.

"Our government is committed to supporting Canada's farmers and our world-class agriculture industry so they can remain competitive in world markets," said Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. "Armed with the latest science, tools and practices, our agriculture sector will continue to be an important driver of Canada's economy."

Among the key changes being proposed in this bill are amendments to the Plant Breeders' Rights Act (PBR Act) to align with the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV '91) which would update Canada's legislation from the outdated UPOV '78 framework. The amendments would include Farmer's Privilege which allows farmers to use seeds from the crops they grow.

Strengthening the intellectual property rights for plant breeding in Canada will encourage investment in Canadian research and development. That will give Canadian farmers more access to new and innovative seed varieties, which could enhance crop yield, improve disease and drought resistance, and meet specific global trade demands.

To help Canadian farmers benefit from the latest scientific research from around the world, the bill also provides the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) with the authority to consider foreign reviews, data and analyses during the approval or registration of new agricultural products in Canada, allowing for a more effective approvals process.

"Agriculture worldwide is evolving in response to growing global populations and demand," said Bev Shipley, MP for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex and Chair of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food. "Knowing that, our government will continue to provide better tools and services to help Canadian farmers prosper on world markets and serve the needs of Canadians."

The Act includes a new licensing and registration regime for animal feed and fertilizer operators and establishments, increased monetary penalties for violations, stronger controls for agricultural products at the border and requirements for more stringent record keeping to enhance safety.

The bill also amends the Agricultural Marketing Programs Act (AMPA) and the Farm Debt Mediation Act (FDMA). The proposed changes are designed to:

  • Simplify delivery and ease access to the Advance Payments Program for producers;
  • Allow for multi-year advance guarantee agreements and repayment agreements with administrators improving delivery;
  • Expand the use of cash repayments;
  • Provide greater flexibility and options for what will be accepted as security allowing producers to secure larger advances;
  • Provide greater flexibility allowing breeding animals to be eligible under the program;
  • Adjust the rules related to the repayment of advances, producers in default, default penalties and stays of default;
  • Expedite processing under the Farm Debt Mediation Act giving producers quicker resolutions.

These amendments follow extensive consultations with producers and industry and will be cost-neutral for the industry.