( File photo )

The Canadian Produce Marketing Association and Canadian Horticultural Council laud the country’s New Democratic Party leadership’s promises to restore preferential access to produce companies under the U.S. Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act.

New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh recently committed to legislation to protect Canadian growers selling produce to U.S. companies be re-establishing provisions under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s PACA, according to a news release. The legislation is part of the New Democratic Party’s (NDP) campaign platform for federal elections this fall.

“It is a very positive sign to see this important issue being addressed in the NDP’s campaign platform,” CPMA President Ron Lemaire said in the release. “It is critical to address barriers to trade within the fresh fruit and vegetable industry and we will be closely following commitments in all parties’ platforms in the lead-up to the election.” 

The U.S. revoked the privileged PACA status for Canadian produce suppliers in October 2014, after Canadian lawmakers again failed to implement a PACA-like system in Canada. Without that status, Canadian companies filing complaints against PACA licensees need to provide a surety bond twice the amount of the complaint.

The issue is a priority for fruit and vegetable growers that do business with U.S. entities, according to the release, and the industry has long advocated for federal legislation in Canada, according to the CPMA and Canadian Horticultural Council.

“Canada’s fruit and vegetable farmers are facing financial risks that threaten their competitiveness at a crucial time when consumers want to make healthy food choices and are being encouraged by their government to consume more fruits and vegetables,” Rebecca Lee, the council’s executive director, said in the release. “It is important that all parties recognize this and we applaud the NDP for their commitment to making a payment protection program for produce growers finally a reality.”

Lemaire has said that the lack of protection is costing Canadian and U.S. firms operating in Canada an average of $19 million a year.

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