NFU calls for a stop to Bill C-18 at Agriculture Committee hearings

(Saskatoon, October 8, 2014) - The National Farmers Union (NFU) will present at House of Commons Agriculture Committee hearings on Bill C-18, the Agriculture Growth Act on Thursday, October 9 at 11 am Eastern Time. The NFU’s careful analysis of the Bill concludes it would increase farmers’ costs, reduce farmers’ autonomy and compromise Canadian sovereignty while providing substantially increased revenue and more power and control to multi-national agri-business corporations, and therefore, should not be passed. The undemocratic omnibus Bill should be broken up into manageable parts, each introduced separately to allow for proper debate on changes to the affected Acts, while the Plant Breeders Rights Act amendments should be tossed out completely.

“Earlier generations of Canadian farmers developed institutions to rebalance power between the individual farmer and larger entities such as the grain companies, banks and railroads that were taking more than their fair share of the wealth farmers produced. They never imagined that a system would come along to take away the farmers’ control of seed -- yet this is exactly what Bill C-18 does through its amendments to the Plant Breeders Rights Act,” said Terry Boehm, Chair of the National Farmers Union (NFU) Seed and Trade Committee.

“This omnibus Bill further erodes the rights of farmers, as well as the public interest, by reducing the transparency and public participation requirements for regulations, and allowing companies to present foreign studies instead of Canadian science when seeking regulatory approvals under five agricultural Acts,” said Jan Slomp, NFU President. “These changes reflect undue influence by corporate lobbyists and a federal government that is all too ready to help global agribusiness at the expense of Canadian farmers.”

“Bill C-18 would change eligibility rules for the Advance Payments Program, making it possible for farmland investment corporations with as little as one-third Canadian ownership to take advantage of a loan program that was intended to help farmers deal with cash flow problems and avoid glutting the market following harvest,” explained Slomp. “C-18’s provisions will instead contribute to inflation of farmland prices that makes it harder than ever for the younger generation of farmers.”

“Bill C-18 is bad enough on its own, but when combined with CETA, the Canada-EU trade agreement, the picture is even worse,” said Boehm. “CETA requires Canada to bring in draconian intellectual property rights enforcement measures, including precautionary seizure of assets for alleged infringement. These would apply to the exclusive Plant Breeders Rights that seed companies would gain if Bill C-18 is passed.”

“The NFU has a very different vision of seed law for Canada, which is summarized in our document “Fundamental Principles of a Farmers’ Seed Act”, said Boehm. “Canada does not have to pass Bill C-18 to comply with international trade rules – we can develop our own seed law system that works for farmers and which creates a strong foundation for the kind of food system that will truly support future generations. The NFU is ready to work with others to make that happen. The first step is to defeat Bill C-18”

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For more information:
 
Terry Boehm, NFU Seed and Trade Committee: (306) 255-7638 (cell); (306) 255-2880
Jan Slomp, NFU President: (403) 843-2068; (403) 704-4364 (cell); marian.jan@gmail.com
 
To listen to the NFU presentation, click on ParlVu