Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the great member of Parliament for Brandon—Souris.
I am pleased to speak today in support of the agricultural growth act. This legislation would modernize and streamline nine different statutes, seven that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency uses to regulate Canada's agricultural sector, and two that are administered by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. I will list the nine statutes quickly: the Plant Breeders' Rights Act, the Feeds Act, the Fertilizers Act, the Seeds Act, the Health of Animals Act, the Plant Protection Act, the Agriculture and Agri-Food Administrative Monetary Penalties Act, the Agricultural Marketing Program Act, and the Farm Debt Mediation Act. Together, these acts and regulations are critical to the strength of our farming economy and the growth and safety of our agricultural products.
Some of the acts we are proposing to amend date back to 1950. I do not think you were even born at that time, Mr. Speaker, though the member for Brandon—Souris definitely was. The acts have served us well, but it is time for change.
As new agricultural production techniques and new developments in science arrive, the legislative tools for agricultural products must keep pace. This is especially true since some of our international trading partners have already innovated and modernized their approaches.
The agricultural growth act proposes amendments that would reduce the regulatory burden for industry, promote trade in agricultural products, and strengthen the safety of agricultural products, which are the first link in the food chain.
With this act, we would be building a more effective, innovative, and nimble legislative framework that reflects what is needed in the 21st century. We are bringing these laws up to speed with modern science and technology, innovation, and international practice in the agricultural industry on an international basis. We need to keep pace with the modern world, and we need to help our farmers grow their businesses.
On December 10 of last year, in a news release praising our government's efforts to bring in this legislation, Doug Robertson, president of the Western Barley Growers Association, summarized the bill as follows:
This Bill is good news for farmers. It encompasses many changes that farmers have been asking for, and will help modernize our grains and regulatory system. It will help create an environment that fosters innovation which our farmers need.
By doing this, we will enhance the competitiveness of Canadian business and ensure consistent regulatory approaches while aligning our legislation with that of our international trading partners. Updated, streamlined, and harmonized legislation will benefit Canadian farmers and industry while supporting the government's modernization initiatives.
The agricultural sector depends on a nimble legislative framework that is able to adapt to a changing industry landscape while providing a constant and effective approach. If Canadian farmers, along with the agriculture and food sector, are to keep their competitive edge on the global stage, they need 21st century tools to do so. We want to help these entrepreneurs harness innovation, add value, and create jobs and growth right across Canada. The agricultural growth act would do just that.
To illustrate, I would like to focus on the Feeds Act and the Fertilizers Act.
The agricultural growth act would propose new and broader controls on the safety of Canada's agricultural inputs through the licensing and registration of feeds and fertilizing manufacturers.
The proposed amendments would provide the CFIA with the ability to license or to register fertilizer and animal feed operators and facilities that import or sell products across provincial or international boundaries. This would be in addition to the current system, where feed and fertilizer products are registered product by product.
Licensing or registering facilities and operators would provide a more effective and timely approach to verify that agricultural products meet Canada's stringent safety standards. For this approach to work, we need to allow for better tracking and oversight of production processes and products being produced, a more efficient system to identify any issues that may come up, and a faster response if and when a product recall is required.
Licensing or registering feed and fertilizer facilities and operators would require regulations. Prior to any new requirements, the government would work closely with stakeholders to design an effective licensing or registration regime.
This amendment would not apply to farmers who make these products for use on their own farms. It would only apply to businesses that sell their animal feed and fertilizer products across provincial and international boundaries.
This amendment would also align Canadian legislation with international trading partners and help our feed and fertilizer industries maintain their export markets, especially in the United States.
The agricultural growth act was written to provide for new and stronger border controls for agricultural products.
CFIA inspectors will be able to order imported shipments of feeds, fertilizers and seeds out of Canada if they do not meet legal requirements. This is similar to the way in which imported plants and animals may be ordered removed from Canada if they do not meet legal requirements. The CFIA already takes action now, and does seize illegal products related to animal feed, seeds, and fertilizers. However, the act would propose updates on the way that we do it.
Under the current process, CFIA negotiates a solution, or there may be a court proceeding after the seizure of illegal products relating to animal feed, seeds, or fertilizers. This process works, but at times Canada must pay to dispose of illegal products that are seized.
The Speaker has given me the one-minute signal, which means that I have less than one minute to end my remarks. Though I could go on about how wonderful this act would be, the Speaker is shaking his head, suggesting that I do not.
Although what I have to say is very profound, I will leave the Canadian population with bated breath.
However, I will say that the legislation would be an improvement. It would bring Canada into the 21st century.
Just think, some of these bills have not been changed since 1950. That was before rock and roll.