The MRL Steering Committee will be introducing a policy on national pesticide use this fall.
With much uncertainty surrounding pesticide use across Western Canada, the Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) Steering Committee was formed last fall to develop a cohesive policy to provide all members of the value chain with a clear and consistent approach to navigate this issue.
The committee has met four times since then to create an industry-wide policy about new products entering the Canadian marketplace in the absence of established MRLs in certain markets. The committee is made up of nearly 25 members, all of whom represent various areas of the agriculture sector. CAAR sits on the committee, representing agri-retailers throughout the creation of the policy.
This policy will be a really helpful process and tool for the retail community. It creates consistency and predictability about decisions that are coming out.
A Consistent Policy
Daniel Caldwell, crop protection manager at FCL – a CAAR member company – is a member of the MRL Steering Committee and says there are still some segments of the policy that are being worked through before public consultation opens – which he anticipates will take place this fall.
“There are a few items remaining that the committee needs to finalize. For the manufacturers, it’s about maintaining their freedom to operate and some confidentiality of strategic intent,” he says. “For the exporters, they still have concerns about exposure to risk. Related to geography and regionality is where there’s a high-use concentration.”
Tyler Bjornson, president of the Canada Grains Council, sits on the committee and says the latest committee meeting in July was a success.
“We want to make sure that there’s a consistent, predictable and fair industry-wide assessment process that involves all segments of the value chain,” he says. “We want to ensure we’re arriving at decisions that are in the best interests of everyone involved and it’s not isolated to one commodity – it covers all the future commodities being grown in Canada.
“The major achievement of this last committee meeting is we now have an actual draft policy that’s being deliberated, and I’d say it’s very close to being in a position to go out for public consultation,” he adds, noting that the committee
wants to finalize the policy by fall, in order for it to be used in next year’s growing season.
Fulfilling the Vision
According to Bjornson, the committee feels confident they have a strong internal consultation mechanism, especially since every major commodity of the value chain has a sitting member on the Canada Grains Council and is participating in the steering committee.
“But we recognize that there are always players in our sector that may not feel they have a voice around the table, and that’s what the public consultation is meant to do – to give them an opportunity to provide feedback.”
Any industry members such as growers, grain elevator employees or others who have not yet been exposed to the document are invited to review and provide feedback as soon as public consultation begins.
Caldwell is confident that the policy has been built on the foundations of science and common sense, and is only expecting minor changes to its content once feedback is received from the public.
“The foundation of the policy is rooted in practicality and scientific data. If we maintain our commitment to that logic, hopefully the public consultation will only require us to tweak the policy in certain areas, and not result in major changes,” he says.
Both Bjornson and Caldwell say they are optimistic this document will fulfill the committee’s vision of creating a consistent process for industry members – including retailers – to follow, helping to eliminate the uncertainty and ambiguity around MRLs.
“This policy will be a really helpful process and tool for the retail community,” says Bjornson. “It creates consistency and predictability about decisions that are coming out, and therefore, it becomes much easier for retailers to interact with their suppliers, and to communicate to growers what’s going to happen in the marketplace in a way that hasn’t been as simple and straightforward in the past.”
Visit caar.org to stay up to date with the latest developments from the MRL Steering Committee.