With a March goal for resolution already past, Canadian officials say they need more time to consider changes to the country’s produce licensing system and how possible new PACA-like financial protections might be implemented.
It may take several months or longer before new regulations are in place, sources said in late April.
Domestic and foreign sellers of produce in the U.S. have been able to use the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act trust protection since the mid-1980s. That law allows produce sellers to be the first in line in the event of a bankruptcy of a U.S. produce buyer. The U.S. and Canadian trade have long desired a comparable system of risk mitigation in Canada.
The ambitious goal of a March 2013 finish date was noted in a 2012 progress report on the Canada-U.S. Regulatory Cooperation Council. The RCC was created in February 2011 by Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama to promote cooperation among regulators in the two countries.
The RCC Joint Action Plan was published in December 2011, listing 29 initiatives where the U.S. and Canada sought greater agreement between regulatory approaches.
The goals included numerous food safety-related initiatives but also a goal for a financial protection to produce sellers in Canada that would be similar to the Department of Agriculture’s PACA trust in the U.S.
A spokesman for the government of Canada said options are still being considered for the licensing system and for possible plans to offer financial protection for produce sellers in Canada.
“The RCC process has allowed us to make solid progress in finding common ground to protect fresh fruit and vegetable growers and other sellers on both sides of the border from financial risk associated with issues involving payment,” Patrick Girard, senior media relations officer for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ottawa, said in an e-mail.
Matt McInerneyCanada has agreed to consider the development of a one-licensing only approach to the fresh produce trade, he said. Since 2000, produce operators in Canada have a choice to obtain their license through either through membership in the Ottawa-based Dispute Resolution Corporation or from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Girard said, is consulting with the industry on licensing requirements for produce dealers. The consultations are expected to be launched later this spring and will provide an opportunity for public comment, he said.