Girard said the government of Canada is also looking at the possibility of greater risk mitigation in the fresh produce sector, but has not finished its analysis of risk mitigation measures that go beyond licensing changes.
“We fully expect the outcome of this process will lead to improvements to the financial risk mitigation tools available to fresh produce sellers,” Girard said in the e-mail.
Industry observers were anxious for a solution but willing to wait for progress.
“From a U.S. perspective, I continue to be very optimistic,” Matt McInerney, executive vice president of Irvine, Calif.-based Western Growers. “There is no doubt the unified one-license approach is going to be a very important outcome,” he said.
He said that the licensing approach has a connection with the risk mitigation solution. McInerney said that while the USDA PACA system cannot be identically replicated in Canada, there’s no doubt that some provision can be created that gives some standing to sellers of perishable farm products.
“Without some risk mitigation solution, the RCC process would not be looked upon as a success from a U.S. perspective,” he said. McInerney said the U.S. industry and government representatives are ready to provide more information and counsel to their Canadian counterparts as the process continues.
Next steps in the process in the months ahead could be consultations between various Canadian government agencies about what a risk mitigation tool might look like in Canada. “This is a moment in time when we need to look at how it can be done, not how it cannot be done,” McInerney said.
Canadian officials are talking about the potential of finalizing the unified-license approach by 2015, said Fred Webber, chief executive officer and president of the Ottawa, Ontario-based Fruit and Vegetable Dispute Resolution Corp. While that approach could guide police the practices of the produce trade in Canada, Webber said a Canadian risk mitigation solution is still needed for those companies who go bankrupt.
Fine-tuning a risk-mitigation approach that will work with provincial and federal law is one of the big remaining challenges, he said. Webber said the government of Canada may have an update on the risk mitigation solution by sometime this fall.