As Canada"s Oct. 19 national election draws closer, two out of three major political parties have endorsed establishing a Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act-like mechanism in Canada.
In an Oct. 8 news release, the Canadian Produce Marketing Association and the Canadian Horticultural Council praised the Liberal Party of Canada and Liberal Agriculture Critic Mark Eyking for the party"s commitment to establish a comparable Canadian mechanism to PACA, and restore Canada"s preferential access to PACA programs.
"When farmers work hard to grow products, process them and send them to a customer, they expect to be paid," Eyking said in a statement on the party"s website. "Liberals will support our producers and grow the sector by restoring access to PACA."
Eyking said the incumbent Conservative Party has "dragged its heels" and failed to resolve the dispute.
Earlier this year, the Canadian trade groups said that New Democratic Party leader Thomas Mulcair also pledged to introduce payment protection plan for produce growers and sellers, similar to the trust protection offered by the PACA in the U.S.
The Conservative Party has not yet stated its position on the issue, and the CMPA and horticultural council urged the Conservatives to do so.
"CPMA raised this issue when we met with Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau last September, where he committed to resolving this critical problem for the produce industry," CPMA President Ron Lemaire said in the release. "We are thrilled that he is following through on this commitment and that the Liberal Party recognizes the importance of a strong produce industry that can continue to provide fresh, healthy food for Canadians."
The lack of payment protection in Canada is the top concern for fresh produce growers and sellers in Canada, according to the release.
"Growing and selling fresh fruit and vegetables is risky, which makes this commitment to ensuring strong, equitable payment protection tools, both in Canada and when exporting to our largest market, all the more important," Anne Fowlie, horticulural council executive vice-president, said in the release.
Produce sellers in the U.S. have PACA, which provides a "deemed trust" mechanism that places a priority on claims from growers and sellers if buyer goes bankrupt or simply refuses to pay.
Canada had been the only country whose exporters were granted the same protections as U.S. companies under PACA, according to the release. However, the U.S. revoked Canada"s special access last fall due to the lack of similar trust protection. The government also cited no progress in fulfilling the Canada-U.S. Regulatory Cooperation Council commitment to establishing a comparable approach in Canada, according to the release. Now, exporting to the U.S. is riskier, as Canadian companies trying to recover unpaid bills must post a bond of double the value of their claim to move forward with a formal claim under PACA, according to the release. Many companies can"t afford to do so and must simply walk away from what they are owed, and the release said several companies have had to make that decision.