Agricultural Growth Act

An Act to amend certain Acts relating to agriculture and agri-food

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in August 2015.


Gerry Ritz  Conservative


This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.


This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends several Acts in order to implement various measures relating to agriculture.
It amends the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act to amend certain aspects of the plant breeders’ rights granted under that Act, including the duration and scope of those rights and conditions for the protection of those rights. It also provides for exceptions to the application of those rights.
It amends the Feeds Act, the Fertilizers Act, the Seeds Act, the Health of Animals Act and the Plant Protection Act to, among other things,
(a) authorize inspectors to order that certain unlawful imports be removed from Canada or destroyed;
(b) authorize the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food to take into account information available from a review conducted by the government of a foreign state when he or she considers certain applications;
(c) authorize the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food to issue certificates setting out any information that he or she considers necessary to facilitate certain exports; and
(d) require that a registration or a licence be obtained for conducting certain activities in respect of certain feeds, fertilizers or supplements that have been imported for sale or that are to be exported or to be sent or conveyed from one province to another.
It also amends the Agriculture and Agri-Food Administrative Monetary Penalties Act to, among other things, increase the maximum limits of penalties that may be imposed for certain violations.
It amends the Agricultural Marketing Programs Act to modernize the requirements of the advance payments program, improve its accessibility and enhance its administration and delivery.
Finally, it amends the Farm Debt Mediation Act to clarify the farm debt mediation process and to facilitate the participation of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food in the mediation process when that Minister is a guarantor of a farmer’s debt.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.


Nov. 24, 2014 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
Nov. 19, 2014 Passed That Bill C-18, An Act to amend certain Acts relating to agriculture and agri-food, {as amended}, be concurred in at report stage [with a further amendment/with further amendments] .
Nov. 19, 2014 Failed That Bill C-18, in Clause 5, be amended by replacing line 4 on page 7 with the following: “—the right referred to in paragraph 5(1)( g) cannot be modified by regulation and do”
Nov. 19, 2014 Failed That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 2.
Nov. 19, 2014 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-18, An Act to amend certain Acts relating to agriculture and agri-food, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at report stage of the Bill and one sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill; and That, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at report stage and on the day allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the Bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.
June 4, 2014 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-18, An Act to amend certain Acts relating to agriculture and agri-food, not more than five further hours shall be allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the Bill; and that, at the expiry of the five hours provided for the consideration at second reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

Agricultural Growth ActGovernment Orders

March 3rd, 2014 / noon
See context

Battlefords—Lloydminster Saskatchewan


Gerry Ritz ConservativeMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

moved that Bill C-18, An Act to amend certain Acts relating to agriculture and agri-food, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour to be here today to speak to this legislation, because it would deliver new tools and better services to help Canadian farmers grow their businesses.

Like the business of farming, the agricultural growth act is about putting in place those new tools and better services for Canadian producers. This legislation would support the growth of our farm businesses, the growth of our economy and, of course, the growth of our opportunities on the world stage.

Bill C-18 is also about being proactive about the future of Canadian agriculture and bringing existing legislation into the 21st century. Just as farmers adjust their business practices to suit changing weather or market conditions, governments must have new approaches for a new generation of agriculture.

The agricultural sector knows the importance of adapting to constantly shifting conditions. Farmers are not farming the way they did 10 or even 5 years ago. Bill C-18 would help our government continue to give farmers access to the tools they need to grow their operations and our overall economy.

It is important to note that the agricultural growth act, or Bill C-18, reflects years of extensive stakeholder consultations, some as long as 22 years. I would like to thank all of the stakeholders and stakeholder associations who took part in those consultations over that time and invested themselves in working with our government to identify the opportunities for improvements contained within this piece of legislation.

With the agricultural growth act we would be modernizing Canadian legislation on a foundation of science, technology, innovation, and international standards. The proposed legislation would bolster the competitiveness of Canada's agricultural sector while ensuring a consistent regulatory approach across all commodities.

Bill C-18 would bring existing legislation in line with new science as well as international standards used by our trading partners and, most importantly, the needs of Canada's farmers and the agricultural sector overall.

This legislation would strengthen the safety of agricultural products, the first link in the food chain, while reducing the regulatory burden for industry and promoting trade in agricultural products.

I am pleased to report that 2012 saw Canada's agricultural sector achieve record results and 2013 proved to be another banner year, with record production up some 27%. That said, we need to continue this growth curve.

The timing for the improvements proposed in the bill could not be better. World demand is increasing for the world-class food that our farmers grow. The global population is expected to reach 9.3 billion by 2050. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and others have forecast that global food production must increase by some 60% to meet that future demand. Canada's farmers are more than up to the challenge of feeding a growing and hungry world.

Farmers depend on exports for up to 85% of their sales on an annual basis. Farmers want to earn their money from the marketplace, and they can beat the competition hands down as long as we are playing on a level playing field. Our government continues to work with industry to level that playing field, open new markets for our farmers, and sign new free trade agreements.

Together, we delivered real results for our farmers by growing our jobs and our economy. We have reopened our beef market in Korea, which was closed for nine years. We implemented free trade agreements with nine countries in less than six years. Last fall, our government reached an agreement in principle with the European Union on a free trade agreement that will add 28 new countries to that list, giving our farmers access to more than 500 million of the world's most affluent customers.

To help farmers meet this growing global demand our government delivered marketing freedom to western wheat and barley farmers, a freedom that many fought for decades to achieve. Farmers embraced that new reality by seeding two million more acres of wheat last year. Our agrifood sector is now the leading manufacturing employer in the country. Our exports have helped put Canada on the map as a major trading nation.

Our government is committed to supporting Canada's farmers and our world-class agricultural industry to ensure that they remain competitive in world markets and positioned to serve the needs of Canadians and a growing world population.

Through the five-year growing forward 2 agreement signed last April, our government is making strategic investments with the provinces and territories in innovation, market access, and competitiveness.

The agricultural growth act that I am speaking about today would modernize and streamline nine different statutes, seven under the purview of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, or CFIA, and two administered by Agriculture Canada. Some of the acts we would be amending date back to the 1950s. While the opposition does not realize it, a lot has changed since then and this legislation would go a long way in modernizing the tools and services available to Canada's world-class producers.

The agricultural growth act addresses many important areas, from seed to feed, to fertilizer to animal health, to plant production to plant grading, and to farm financing.

The agricultural growth act is designed to update and streamline government requirements while also helping industry meet requirements by reducing red tape and administrative costs while improving overall program delivery.

Let me explain how we could achieve this. What we would do with this proposed legislation is to build a more effective, innovative, and nimble legislative framework that supports farmers from the first planting of seed in Canadian soil to sales at home or abroad. For example, Bill C-18 would bring plant breeders' rights in line with those of our international competitors, which would level the playing field for Canadian farmers. UPOV '91 would be implemented and ratified.

The proposed changes would encourage increased investment in plant breeding in Canada, and encourage foreign breeders to protect and sell their varieties here. As a result, Canada's farmers would benefit from improved access to innovative new varieties that have been bred to enhance crop yields, improve resistance to disease and drought, and meet specific market demands.

At the same time, the act explicitly recognizes the traditional practice of saving, conditioning, and replanting seed that is personally saved from crops grown on a producer's own land. This is known as “farmer's privilege”. It would be entrenched in this legislation, unlike UPOV '78, which we are now under.

For those who continue to say otherwise, let me be clear: read the bill. These proposed changes reflect consultation. The CFIA held national public consultations with plant breeders, farmers, horticulturalists, seed dealers and, of course, the general public. I would note that the majority of our farm community is supportive of these reforms.

A group of leading Canadian farmer and agricultural organizations has joined forces to support the agricultural growth act. Partners in Innovation includes the Canadian Horticultural Council, Grain Growers of Canada, Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association, and the western Canadian barley growers and a number of other commodity groups. This bill is also supported by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, the Canadian Seed Trade Association, and the Canadian Canola Growers Association.

The group says that the strength of plant breeders' rights in Canada is “...critical for the future of our farmers and our agricultural industry's ability to compete in the global market.”

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture also supports this bill. CFA President, Ron Bonnett said with respect to the act:

The proposed changes reflect a number of recommendations made by industry over the years and showcase the government has been listening. We're pleased the government has taken action and followed-up in a concrete way with legislative changes and formal consultations on these proposed amendments.

Of course, we will continue to consult with our agricultural industry here in the country before any changes are implemented, including regulatory changes. Our government remains committed to these consultations to determine the best way to move forward.

Another key change in the agricultural growth act concerns fertilizer and animal feed. The act would introduce the authority to require licensing and registration for operators of fertilizer and animal feed facilities involved in the trade of products across provincial or international borders. This will be in addition to the current system, where feed and fertilizer products are registered on a product by product basis. Licensing or registration of facilities and operators would provide an even more effective approach to ensuring that products meet safety standards, while providing greater flexibility and efficiency for the industries involved.

The work done by CFIA on the feed link for PED underscores the need for these timely changes. The act proposes enhanced legislative authority and stronger enforcement tools for CFIA inspectors, which would further promote compliance with federal requirements and safety standards. This would dovetail with recent CFIA initiatives to modernize its legislative base, as was done with the passage of the Safe Food for Canadians Act in 2012.

It would also support the work under way to modernize the agency's inspection and regulatory frameworks. This new legislation would allow the CFIA to order non-compliant imported agricultural products out of the country to ensure that all agricultural products meet the appropriate Canadian requirements, no matter where they come from. Right now, at times, Canada must pay to dispose of illegal feeds, fertilizers, and seed products that are seized. Under the agricultural growth act, CFIA inspectors would be able to order imported shipments of feeds, fertilizers and seeds out of Canada if they do not meet our legal requirements. We already do this with imported plants and animals.

The act would also give CFIA inspectors the ability to allow the importer to fix the problem in Canada if it is not a matter of safety, and if they can be sure that the issue would be addressed in a timely manner. The proposed amendment in the bill would provide the CFIA with stronger tools to more efficiently fulfill its mandate to protect Canada's plant and animal resource base. Monetary penalties for infractions would also be increased to make them a more effective compliance tool for inspectors, as was done in the Safe Food for Canadians Act.

The changes proposed in the agricultural growth act reflect the ongoing needs of Canada's agricultural sector. They would align with CFIA's modernized regulatory and inspection initiatives, and they would help ensure consistency across all agricultural commodities.

If Canada's agricultural sector is to compete and succeed in the modern world and to maintain its competitive edge on that global stage, it needs 21st century tools to do so. That is why we listened to farmers and are focusing their financial tools so they can capture new opportunities in the global marketplace.

We consulted with farmers across Canada on how we can improve the advance payments program, which is enabled under the Agricultural Marketing Programs Act. Through this legislation, we are delivering on the direction that farmers presented to us.

The agricultural growth act would improve the advance payments program by making it more flexible and user friendly for Canadian producers. Making the advance payments program more flexible and predictable would assist farmers in managing their cash flows, building their businesses and driving our economy. Producers are constantly fine-tuning their operations and businesses, and they rightly expect government to do the same with the tools and services we offer to them. Responding to producers' recommendations, the legislative changes will help us streamline delivery of cash advances under the advance payments program.

The goal is to enhance program flexibility to ensure that programs remain relevant and responsive to the changing nature and needs of our agricultural industry.

The agricultural growth act also allows farmers to obtain five-year agreements with advance payment program administrators. This would reduce the burden of filling out paperwork each year.

It is a great time to be in agriculture. Many producers would tell us that they are seeing stronger returns, increased market access and opportunities for investment, and a brighter future ahead.

We will continue to work hard on behalf of farmers, because our government knows that in many cases yesterday's answers cannot meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. The time is right to put greater focus on innovation, market access, and improving government programs and services to meet the changing needs of our agricultural industry.

The agricultural growth act is consistent with our government's priorities: growing the economy and creating jobs for Canadians. One in eight Canadian jobs is agriculture related, and I see no reason why we cannot increase this number as the sector continues to prosper and grow. Agricultural growth, whether through innovation or efficiency, provides consumers with more choices for Canadian grown products, and this is good for our overall economy.

Wielding the latest science, tools and practices, Canada's agricultural sector has the potential to grow and prosper in a manner that secures the future of our agricultural industry and benefits all Canadians. There is no better way to support our farm families than to give them the new tools and better services they require to help them grow their businesses.

I ask all parliamentarians to give the agricultural growth act, Bill C-18, their careful attention and to move it forward in a timely manner so that Canada's agricultural entrepreneurs can harness innovation, add value, and generate jobs and growth right across this great country.

Agricultural Growth ActGovernment Orders

March 3rd, 2014 / 12:15 p.m.
See context


Malcolm Allen NDP Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would have preferred that the minister's bill not be an omnibus bill, but that is the general nature from the other side, so we are quite used to having a number of things put all together.

The minister talked about it being a great time to be in agriculture. I would agree with him, except for the farmers on the Prairies looking for a train to get their grain to market. Perhaps the minister should revise his speech a little and talk about why we need a stick to hit those two railroaders to make sure that we get that great product those great farmers grow for us in that part of the world to port so that the farmers can get paid. If they do not get paid, the part in the bill dealing with advance payments will really be necessary because they will be taking out loans to pay last year's loans, and at this rate, they will be taking out loans next year to pay off this year's loan.

Specifically to UPOV '29 and farmers' privilege, one of the questions that has come up is that under the present legislation as proposed, farmers' privilege would only last a year. Lots of farmers are saying that under UPOV '78, it lasted longer than a year. If I am correct, I heard the minister say that it actually makes no difference this way, farmers' privilege versus UPOV '78. Can he clarify that a farmer can save it for a year or is it longer than a year under Bill C-18?

Agricultural Growth ActGovernment Orders

March 3rd, 2014 / 12:15 p.m.
See context


Gerry Ritz Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, there are a number of questions and comments there, which of course are allowed. I am not sure I would classify this as a omnibus bill. He condemns those and wants us to add several more things to it, so I am not exactly sure what kind of information I am getting here.

He also called it UPOV '29. It is UPOV '91. UPOV '78 does not in any way, shape, or form allow farmers' privilege. There is no vehicle in UPOV '78 to allow farmers to maintain and use that seed and propagate it on their own farm.

UPOV '91 does have that clearly written in there. It lasts more than a year. If farmers save seed, keep it in their bins, have it cleaned and stored and then decide not to put it in that year, but carry it over to the year after that, of course it maintains that status with the farmer. They only pay an end-use royalty in that case when they sell the seed that gained from that farm-saved seed.

Yes, it is very clearly described. One farm group out there cannot seem to read the writing. I can tell them that it is on page 7 of the bill. It is very succinct in what it says about farmers being able to hold that and use it on their own facility in perpetuity, should it last that long. There was wheat stored in the pyramids; I suppose we could actually do that under the bill.

Agricultural Growth ActGovernment Orders

March 3rd, 2014 / 12:15 p.m.
See context


Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I could not help but notice that the minister wandered off Bill C-18 quite a bit and tried to put a spin on some of the decisions that the government previously made, one being the killing of the Canadian Wheat Board without any long-term planning on all the other things the Wheat Board did besides single-desk selling.

As a result, in western Canada we now have a crisis because there was no planning on the part of the government. We have a crisis in transportation because the railways and grain companies are taking all the profit and farmers are left paying demurrage while some 50 ships sit in Vancouver and Prince Rupert. Prices are discounted up to 40% compared to the U.S.

The minister also failed to mention the fact that he cut AgriStability and AgriInvest, and those safety nets are not there now for the farm community.

My question relates to the same question asked earlier, which is on farmers' privilege.

There is a worry out there among some farm groups: is farmers' privilege protected by way of legislation or can it be discarded by regulation later on?

I hear what the minister said and I welcome what he said related to farmers' privilege on page 7 of the bill, but how long is it confirmed to be in existence?

Agricultural Growth ActGovernment Orders

March 3rd, 2014 / 12:20 p.m.
See context


Gerry Ritz Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, I completely reject the idea that somehow the old Canadian Wheat Board would have had a positive effect on this year's crop. We have 50% more crop in western Canada than we ever had before, simply because farmers stopped hemorrhaging wheat and barley acres and putting in other crops, and they reseeded some two million acres of wheat.

Farmers still have the CWB there to market through, should they decide to. It has offered several pools and has been successful in doing that. It is in the process of buying export capacity at Thunder Bay. It has that checked off its list and is now moving forward on bricks and mortar in western Canada to allow them some catchment, some gatherment area, and we look forward to seeing the results of that.

That said, on the farmers' saved seed, it is right here on page 7 of the bill and it can be enhanced by regulation as we move forward. Farmers' saved seed is actually in the proposed legislation itself, but it can be enhanced by regulation.

Agricultural Growth ActGovernment Orders

March 3rd, 2014 / 12:20 p.m.
See context


Jasbir Sandhu NDP Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, a number of new provisions in the bill would require additional resources in order to be implemented. However, we have seen the record of the Conservative government with its cuts to the CFIA, and those cuts have devastated food safety for Canadians.

Can the member assure Canadians that additional resources will be available to implement some of these provisions so that they will have implementation and full effect?

Agricultural Growth ActGovernment Orders

March 3rd, 2014 / 12:20 p.m.
See context


Gerry Ritz Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have to begin by saying that there have been no cuts to CFIA that reflect on food safety. This government has actually added over 700 front-line food inspectors, which the member's party has decided to vote against, and that is unfortunate.

In fact, in budget 2014 there is a provision to hire another 200 inspector-level positions at CFIA to move forward on other commodities such as imports, produce, and so forth. I am sure that the member's party will stand up and support that as they always do—not.

Agricultural Growth ActGovernment Orders

March 3rd, 2014 / 12:20 p.m.
See context


Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am tempted to ask the hon. Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food about the problems of shipping grain because farmers on Vancouver Island were three days away from having no grain to feed their livestock. However, I want to focus Bill C-18.

I note that the minister said we should be reassured as to the ability to save seed for some farmers, which is found page 7, and that he might want to make it clearer in future regulations. I wonder if the minister is open to making it clearer through amendments to this proposed act as it goes forward.

Agricultural Growth ActGovernment Orders

March 3rd, 2014 / 12:20 p.m.
See context


Gerry Ritz Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, that is the nature of committee work. If members come forward with substantive amendments, they will be discussed. Witnesses will be called, and the bill will be stronger in the end should they want to build the capacity into the bill to serve farmers in a better way. Should they decide to remove chunks and try to break the bill apart, then, of course, we would not allow that.

Agricultural Growth ActGovernment Orders

March 3rd, 2014 / 12:20 p.m.
See context


Jasbir Sandhu NDP Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to follow up on the minister's response to my previous question. He mentioned that the new budget contains 200 positions for CFIA. Could the member let this House and Canadians know how many you cut before you actually had to reinvest to get more members in?

In fact he is going to try to spin this, but the Conservatives cut hundreds more in the CFIA than the 200 that will now be reinstated.

Agricultural Growth ActGovernment Orders

March 3rd, 2014 / 12:20 p.m.
See context


The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Order. Before I go to the minister of agriculture, I will just remind all hon. members to direct their comments and questions to the Chair rather than to their colleagues.

The hon. minister of agriculture.

Agricultural Growth ActGovernment Orders

March 3rd, 2014 / 12:20 p.m.
See context


Gerry Ritz Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand and respond to the member. The answer is simple: none.

Agricultural Growth ActGovernment Orders

March 3rd, 2014 / 12:20 p.m.
See context


Bev Shipley Conservative Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his thorough and in-depth presentation. One of the measures we may want to get a clearer handle on is the licensing of feed and fertilizer establishments. I wonder if he could expand on that, on what it means moving from product to product, and on the establishment of facilities and their operators.

Agricultural Growth ActGovernment Orders

March 3rd, 2014 / 12:20 p.m.
See context


Gerry Ritz Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, it clarifies the role of the CFIA in making sure that we feed our animals, which is the first step in having a good, quality product on store shelves and on our kitchen tables. It ensures that the feed going into those animals is of top quality and that it meets all Canadian safety standards. It makes sure that any product brought in from other countries is acceptable, and we will now have a way to trace that product back.

With the PED situation we are facing with pork right now, there was some concern that the blood plasma that was coming in may be carrying the genetic marker of the PED virus. We have been able to test successfully that it has not transferred through in a way that affects the pigs negatively once it is pelletized. That is a great step. That is the type of work that will be ongoing after we pass this piece of legislation. Those are very positive things.

Agricultural Growth ActGovernment Orders

March 3rd, 2014 / 12:25 p.m.
See context


Malcolm Allen NDP Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for his clarification on farmers' privileges being beyond the year, and of course there is an end royalty, as he has pointed out. Therefore, it is not much different than if it was at the end of the year because they are going to pay royalties anyhow. It would seem that one is going to end up paying folks regardless.

Clearly the UPOV '91, as it suggests, is actually a treaty that was negotiated in 1991. When we refer to “78”, that was 1978.

It is a long time ago since UPOV '91 was actually looked at in the sense of a treaty. Of course, as we look from place to place, there are differences in what has been done. There are some exemptions built into it in certain countries that are not present in others, so it is not holistic across the board in the sense that what was decided in 1991 is what is done in Australia, Germany, France, the U.K., the United States or a number of other places that actually enacted it.

Clearly, at some point in the early 2000s when our friends down at the end, the Liberals, were in power, they attempted then to get it enacted. Farmers at that time were pleased with it, but they had a lot of questions concerning it. What happened was the government backed away, and here we are in 2014 still looking at UPOV '91 and whether it should go forward.

Based on the minister's comments and the bill itself, and the minister's earlier comments outside of this place, the government's intent is to get this enacted by August of this year based on the belief that there is some science and innovation that will happen if this comes into force. That, of course, then means there will be a charge somewhere, because people do not do this work unless they get paid for it.

I am not suggesting folks should do it for free in the private sector. That is not what they do. They are in the business of making profits for their shareholders or the owners of their companies if they are privately owned. That is not a bad thing; that is how business survives. People who work for privately owned companies want them to survive because if the companies are not making any money, they cannot pay their employees. That is the nature of business.

Ultimately, that means customers pay for that, because it is not done for free. People do not do it out of the goodness of their hearts or for public good. They do it because they see that there is potentially a market and think that they can perhaps win over that market and charge whatever the price may be. The price could be up, sideways, or lower. It depends. It could be a number of things.

Who is the market? It will not be me, that is for sure. I do not know about you, Mr. Speaker, but I do not farm. It does not matter if I live in the country. The piece that I own takes care of itself. I do not plant anything of any significance, so I will not be paying that. It could be down at the end, because I am the retail customer at the far end, and maybe that is where the price will slide itself along.

It is clear that farmers will pay for this innovation, and in some cases farmers may say that these innovations are worth paying for. In fact, many farmers are in checkoff programs to get into innovation and new technologies to do different things, and happily so, because they want to continue to enhance their ability to grow better-quality crops. They want to grow more crops while using less land, crops that are more drought resistant or drought tolerant or crops that use less water and less inputs, because inputs are a cost to farmers. They are keenly aware of all of those things and interested in doing them. In fact, I would suggest that all farmers are involved in some form of organomics in the sense of asking how they can do it better, whether it be looking at crop rotation, looking at what they do or at the market, or trying to do things in a better way in working with their land and inputs.

Therefore, there are questions about UPOV '91. It has been around for a while, but it has been on the back burner for a long period of time. The minister is correct in saying that UPOV '78 does not speak about farmers' privilege or farmers' saving seed. It is totally silent. It does not say a word. Therefore, farmers go ahead and do it; they save seed. They just save it, because it is silent. It does not say they cannot and it does not lay out a prescription as to how they can. Since it says nothing, it is assumed that they can.

That is what farmers have been doing for millennia, quite frankly. Long before the seed companies came along, farmers were their own seed company, and many are to this day, in a way. It varies. They buy some and they save some; they do a number of different things. There are hybrids, of course, that they have to pay for every year, and other varieties of things that they do have to pay for. There is no question about that. Farmers say it is a legitimate thing that they have to do, but they do not see the problem when they save it. They see this as an adjunct piece and ask why they cannot continue to do that.

The minister was fairly clear, and I will look at the record when it is presented. However, I believe what he said was that they can save it for more than a year but they are going to pay an end-use royalty on it, so they are going to pay anyway. Whether they save it or not, they are going to pay. They could basically not save it and pay, or they could go to the trouble of saving it. That means they are going to condition it, or get it conditioned, get it ready to use in their fields, and then when they harvest it they are going to pay something at the end.

This is the dilemma. I had a quick look at page 7, clause 5, and it does not say anything as to what it would be. What would that end-use royalty actually be? Would it be greater than if a farmer simply bought the seed and did not save it in the first place? Is that going to be the regulation that we wait for and then we find out after? Or, is that going to be a negotiated piece between the companies and the farmers? Would that be individual farmers? Would it be farmers' associations? It could be the grain growers group or some other group, the oats or barley groups. Would it be them? Would it be individuals? Would they pit farmer against farmer? Would the end-use royalties be higher here and lower there, depending on the deal they could cut? That is an open question, at least based on what I can see on page 7. The minister pointed us to this, and I want to thank the minister for pointing us to that clarification, but I do not see that laid out in front of us.

Clearly there are many open question on UPOV '91 for a lot of farmers, and legitimately so, as to why we are rushing headlong at this. Some would say it has been there for a long time, but it has been silent for a long time, and a lot of folks need to get back up to speed. I know the minister will say that we will have opportunities through committee. I would hope that we would have that opportunity through the committee, in the sense that we would take the time to do a couple of things. One would be to investigate what has happened. I welcome the minister's offer that as long as we do not tear it apart and pull things out of it, the minister would be happy to take helpful suggestions.

I will apologize to you in advance for being a little skeptical, Mr. Speaker, because I know that you were not the one who is the skeptic, but I am. That is based on my previous experiences in the agriculture committee, where I had proposed some changes to a food safety bill. I did not strip anything out of the bill; I was actually adding things that I thought would be helpful. Of course, we did not get any changes.

As much as I think that there were 14 or 15 potential amendments from the opposition benches that could have enhanced the bill, we did not actually get any. Therefore, you will have to excuse me, Mr. Speaker, for being a bit skeptical about the statement from the minister when it comes to his arms being open to good ideas and our feeling free to send them his way, so that the Conservatives would take them under advisement and make the bill better. I do not have any experience around that in this Parliament, Mr. Speaker, and I apologize to you because I know it is not something you would do. You would be more than welcoming to ensure that legislation is as good as we can possibly make it coming out of this place. That is what we should be about as legislators.

I have talked to a number of individuals in the farm community, and without question, some of them are saying the bill is a good thing. They think it is a good thing, and they are saying to me that they think there is nothing wrong with it. I know the members on the other side quite often want to point at one group or another. However, quite frankly, I am talking to individual farmers who are non-affiliated; they are not saying they are with this group or that group. Some folks would be surprised to find individual farmers are from groups that the other side call as witnesses all the time. They are saying that we should think about this for a while because they are not sure how it is going to weave itself together.

We are told we get a privilege, but what privilege is it? Is it really a privilege, or is it that people can store it but they are going to pay for it? If that were the case, then that person would end up storing it and the person who initially sold it would collect the money at the end of the day. Some would say that is not a bad deal, and some would say it is not a particularly good one. That is problematic, and it needs to be looked at very carefully.

There are a number of issues with the bill. A number of things are changed in the bill, including the Fertilizers Act, the Seeds Act, and advance payments. There are a number of pieces, but one that is always contentious is the sense that the government is not making changes through the legislative process but through a regulatory process. Once that is handed over, it is gone.

There are good pieces in the legislation. It talks about the health and safety of handling fertilizers to make sure it is done well. Those are good things. We approve of those things. We think they are good.

However, the government then goes on to say that from now on the changes will be made through a regulatory process. It will not have to bring the legislation back because this legislation takes all of the responsibility and hands it to the minister, whoever that happens to be. It may not be this particular minister; it may be somebody else down the road. Those are difficult issues.

There are some things that can be done through regulations. The changes that have a minimal impact and need to be done quickly can be done this way. In these particular cases, these are large pieces. We are talking about turning over a large responsibility and a large amount of authority to the minister.

On this side, we have noticed that quite often the government brings in omnibus bills. I am not sure if the minister would agree that it is omnibus bill, but we actually looked at Bill C-18.

I would remind the House that there is more legislation being done on agriculture now than in recent memory. My colleague the member for Malpeque may be able to help me with this, but it seems that we have done more changes to agriculture legislation in this Parliament than probably in the last 10 Parliaments combined, which has had significant impacts on farmers right across the board.

To turn future changes that should be done through a legislative process over to a regulatory process is not reassuring for me as the critic, to be honest, in the sense that things might not happen later on. The minister said that we can change things through regulation, including the effects on farmers' privilege. That can be changed through regulation based on what happens here.

What happens then? The minister said that we could enhance it. The problem with a two-headed coin is that when it is flipped there is another side. It might be another head or it could be tail. What it means is that the advancement that might have been done could be taken away on the other side. There is no sense that it should or would happen, but the problem is that the potential is there for it to happen. If the potential is in the wrong hands, it will affect those who will have things taken away from them.

Clearly there are a number of things we would probably say are good pieces of legislation that could be tweaked a little or we could let them go. As an omnibus bill, it needs to be studied extremely carefully. We need to study it carefully and be open to helping to make it better legislation.

We could debate the merits of the demise of the Canadian Wheat Board on a philosophical basis, and whether it was right or wrong. One of the things we cannot underscore enough is that when the Wheat Board went, the logistics piece went with it. We can see what happened with the rail system and the backlog on the Prairies. The premier of Saskatchewan and the agriculture minister in Alberta are speaking out, and, last week at the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, the president of the Alberta Federation of Agriculture asked the government to stop talking about regulation and to regulate the railroads to make sure the crops can be moved off the Prairies.

That is an opportunity for the government to act under the regulations. It does not have to be brought here. That would be an appropriate use of regulations. The big stick of regulations could be brought out to make things happen. Then we would actually get product off of the Prairies.

Conservative estimates are that between $2 billion to $4 billion is stranded out there to farmers, which affects part of this legislation when it talks about advance payments programs. It is talking about how we are going to do this and streamline it if they want multiple years, in other words, back to back payments. Well, this year farmers are going to be back to back because many of them took the advance loans last year.

The minister is already on the record as saying, “We know there's a problem. We know you haven't sold your crop and you have no money because there's no Wheat Board to send it to”. Basically, farmers are waiting for an elevator to clear its grain so they can get into an elevator, if they are not where they can get to a producer car. What happens is that they are not empty and they cannot get in, so they do not get paid. The government's response is to get another loan.

Farmers are getting a loan to pay a loan and then starting the year with a loan without selling any grain. Some of the estimates we are talking about is that the carry-out could be two years. In other words, grain that was grown last year may not hit market until two years from now.

If that is the case, the price it was worth last year will not be the price it is worth in the future; it will be worth less. Its optimum quality will diminish over time, and farmers will end up with less money for it than they would have received last year. Clearly that would impact their ability to pay back the loan because it is of less value. The loan was based on the value in their bins.

That is today, of course. If they do not sell the remainder of it for two years, and they sell it for feed versus what used to be premium quality wheat with great protein, they are now stuck selling it for a heck of a lot less. In fact, today, the prices are running at between 12% to 15% less than they were last fall. Of course, if the grain does not move, they would not fill the contract anyways.

Clearly this legislation is talking about advance payments and those loan programs. However, this seems as if it has become a cover for a lot of things that happened last year in Growing Forward 2—and my friend from Malpeque referenced it in his questions—and what we call the suite of programs. This is business risk management programming, where the government takes out hundreds of billions of dollars worth of money. The government will say, “Hang on, the supplemental estimates will come. Just wait”.

The problem is that farmers cannot wait. There are difficulties in business risk management programming; there is no question about that. The issue is whether we fix the program or gut the program. In my view, they gutted the program.

I have talked to farmers who are asking about the sense of being in the program. The programs are not doing what they are supposed to and they feel they would not qualify for some of them anyway. They have moved the base down to such a level that they would not qualify for the programs. They do not get any money. They really want that program, but the problem is that they have to take this program with this program because that is the way they are bundled together. They end up on the short end of the stick, and therefore why would they bother doing that?

Clearly there are some sticking points in this legislation. UPOV '91, for many farmers, is a major issue that they want to see resolved. Many of them do not wish to give up their inherent right to save seed, which they have done, as I said earlier, for millennia.

Most folks in the city would assume that is how farmers do it. I recognize that is not how it really happens. There are seeds that farmers buy from companies on a regular basis, canola being one of them. There are other farmers who would prefer to buy seed every year rather than save it. That is a choice they make. The difficulty is that a lot of farmers see that they could perhaps lose their choice.

There are ways for innovation to happen. One of the things we know needs to happen, obviously, is that they need to get paid. They are not going to do the work without being paid. I think that is appropriate.

There are royalty schemes that say “If you want to participate as a broader group, perhaps that's how you'll do it”. There are check-offs in canola. There are check-offs in other programs, for other commodity groups and other livestock groups, that do different things as the money goes in there.

However, one of the things that is missing in all of this is the public dollars and research. The Canadian government, not the Conservative government, but the government and this country, under a lot of different administrations, was world-renowned for the type of work it did in innovation and public research in the agriculture sector. That is the piece that is missing here. We would like to see public dollars go back to the public good and to farmers. That is the way to make it profitable.