NFU Briefs 2013

NFU Comments on Neonicotinoid in PMRA Consultation.

The NFU has submitted comments to Health Canada's Pesticide Management Regulatory Agency's Notice of Intent, NOI2013-01, Action to Protect Bees from Exposure to Neonicotinoid Pesticides. Our comments call for a five-year moratorium on neonicotinoid seed treatment for all field crops and for publicly-funded independent third-party research during that time. Read our full submission.

NFU Comments on CFIA's Variety Registration Consultation

The National Farmers Union submitted comments on the CFIA’s on-line survey regarding its discussion paper Crop Variety Registration in Canada: Issues and Options. We call for maintaining the current system and strengthening regulations and practices to promote the availablity of quality seed in the interests of farmers. Read the full submission

Protocol for Legal Sale of Fresh Unpasteurized Milk within the Supply Management System

The National Farmers Union has passed one resolution and tabled a second one for further study on raw milk. To fulfil these two resolutions the NFU Board instructed an ad hoc committee to prepare a draft protocol for sale of fresh unpasteurized milk within the supply management system. The resulting report sets out a draft protocol as developed by the committee, along with relevant context for the Board’s consideration. Read the Protocol.

NFU Comments on Regulations Amending Canada Grain Act Regulations regarding producer payment protection

The 2012 federal budget directed the Canadian Grain Commission to replace the long-standing bond security system with a credit insurance system for licensed grain companies. Producer payment protection exists to ensure farmers get paid for grain in the event a licensed company refuses to pay, or does not pay due to insolvency. Under the new system all grain companies must be insured be Atradius, a multinational insurance company based in Europe. Coverage for farmers will be reduced to 95% if they make a claim for non-payment. There are numerous implications to this new system, which is scheduled to go into effect December 1, 2013.

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NFU Analyses “Alternative Service Delivery for Seed Crop Inspection”

The 2012 federal budget “refocused” the CFIA on its “core mandate”, directing it to exit seed field crop inspection and set up “Alternative Service Delivery for Seed Crop Inspection.” In plain language, seed crop inspection is to be privatized starting in 2014. Implications that flow from this change in Canadian seed policy are detailed in the following analysis. A privatized seed field crop inspection system embodies the fundamental and inherent conflict between commerce for private gain and regulation for public protection. Regretably, this is but one piece in the puzzle that constitutes the federal government’s vision for privatization and the planned hand-over of control of Canada’s entire seed system to global seed corporations.

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NFU Comments on Monsanto-FGI Application to Approve GM Reduced Lignin Alfalfa - July 2013

The National Farmers Union would like to comment on the material submitted by Monsanto and Forage Genetics International to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Health Canada in reference to their application for approval of genetically engineered reduced lignin alfalfa. However, the information has not been made available to the public. Correspondence with the CFIA has revealed that there is no requirement for public disclosure of documentation related to approval of genetically modified plant varieties, and information is made available at the discretion of the proponent.

Clearly, this process lacks accountability and transparency. The CFIA’s approval process is a “black box”. Nevertheless, we have chosen to submit public comment to put our concerns into the public record.

Read the full submission

NFU Comments on Regulations Amending the Seeds Regulations - May 2013

The National Farmers Union (NFU) has submitted comments on the proposal by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to amend the Seeds Regulations.  Specifically, the CFIA seeks to allow variety registrants to cancel the registration of seed varieties on request, to move all forage crop kinds from Part I to Part III of Schedule III and to move soybeans from Part I to Part III of Schedule III. The NFU opposes these changes.

Read the full submission (PDF) detailing our concerns and the reasons why we believe the variety registration regulations should not be changed as proposed.

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NFU Comments on Amendments to the Canada Grain Act in Reference to Functions of the Canadian Grain Commission

The National Farmers Union (NFU) has submitted comments on the proposal to change the functions of the Canadian Grain Commission (CGC). The proposed regulation would eliminate inward inspection and weigh-overs, as well as the Grain Appeals Tribunal, resulting in a shift in the role of the CGC from its historical mandate to protect the interests of farmers in relation to powerful grain companies.

Read the full submission (PDF) detailing our concerns and the reasons why we believe the Canadian Grain Commission's functions should not be changed as proposed.

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NFU Submission to Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) Consultation on the Proposed Regulatory Approach  for Unconventional Oil and Gas Development
March, 2013

The National Farmers Union has submitted feedback to the Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) Consultation on its Proposed Regulatory Approach for Unconventional Oil and Gas Development.

The use of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing in the oil and gas industry already had a significant effect on agriculture and farmers in Alberta. As the ERCB states, “Since 2008, approximately 5,000 horizontal wells have been drilled in Alberta using multi-stage hydraulic fracturing to enhance oil and gas recovery.” With the projected growth of unconventional resource extraction, the NFU agrees that a thorough and strictly-enforced regulatory regime is necessary to prevent serious harm.

Read the full brief (PDF) for the detailed explanation and rationale for our recommendations
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Growing Forward 2 – Accelerating Globalization, Stalling Food Sovereignty: 
Implications of the GF2 Strategic Initiatives Suite

The NFU has analyzed Growing Forward 2’s “Strategic Initiatives” component and we have found that it continues and deepens the federal government’s commitment to policy goals that favour globalization and corporate control of agriculture while it marginalizes farmers, consumers and the land – a process that has been underway at least since 1981.

Competitiveness and Market Development funds will favour export-oriented activities and further increase the market power imbalance between farmers and agri-business. Innovation funds will only be available for activities arising from private-public partnerships. There is little doubt that funds will support research agendas that will be controlled by private interests for private gain, with a focus on saleable products. Adaptability and Industry Capacity funds will support regulatory harmonization with US and other trading partners. It will offer a regulatory environment friendly to global corporations and impose increased responsibilities and costs on farmers.

GF2 is intimately linked with the trade agreements – responding to the conditions created by, and implementing measures agreed to in trade deals such as CETA. The NFU notes that during public consultations leading up to GF2 many people asked for significant changes to the food system to better promote health, economic justice and environmental stewardship. Their input has been largely ignored and their values reframed as niche market opportunities.

We conclude by recommending that the federal-provincial-territorial agricultural strategy be re-oriented. Were Canada to instead harness these funds to policies rooted in food sovereignty and fair trade, we would create a more inter-dependent, ecologically sound, inventive, responsive agriculture and food system in Canada -- one that is governed democratically by the citizens who live and work here.

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