Agri-retailers reap benefits by staying on top of changing fertilizer regulations.

Agri-retailers reap benefits by staying on top of changing fertilizer regulations.

The Canadian Fertilizer Products Forum (CFPF) was created as a joint partnership between Fertilizer Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). The forum provides a framework for consultation, which creates a strengthened coordination between federal departments and agencies while increasing transparency and improving engagement between stakeholders throughout the fertilizer regulatory process.

Cody Cruise, regulatory and technical resource coordinator at TerraLink Horticulture Inc., attended the 11th annual CFPF on behalf of CAAR and TerraLink on October 30 and 31.

Cruise says he has attended the CFPF for the past five years because it is a great opportunity for agri-retailers and other members of the ag industry to come together, network with members of the CFIA and get a first-hand look at regulatory developments.

“The CFPF gives you a good idea of what’s going on and what’s going to be coming up in the next set of regulations,” he says. “It lets agri-retailers know how to recognize products that are permitted for sale, that are regulated, whether they’re registered or not and what the industry is doing to get products to market.”

A lot of the value is from the ability to interact with the regulatory body. You get a wealth of information from attending. Cody Cruise

A Wealth of Information

This year’s forum covered a number of topics, ranging from nitrification inhibitor regulations, discussions from the CFPF Facility Licensing Working Group, a look at the progress of NAFTA from the Fertilizer Canada Trade Committee, and a session on the Restricted Components List and Regulated Chemicals from Natural Resources Canada. The CFPF also looked at product development trends, emerging markets and innovative new products and regulatory considerations.

“If you receive the information later instead of attending the forum, you would just receive slides from their PowerPoint presentation,” says Cruise. “You wouldn’t know what was discussed, what questions were asked or anything that came from those questions.”

He says this is why having face-time with CFIA members is especially beneficial, as retailers can have a personal discussion about any areas of concern.

“To me, it’s important because I get the information first-hand, rather than second- or third-hand; and you can network with colleagues and people in the industry,” he says. “A lot of the value is from the ability to interact with the regulatory body. You get a wealth of information from attending.”

According to Clyde Graham, senior vice-president of Fertilizer Canada, attending the CFPF is a way for agri-retailers to make themselves stand out for their farmer customers.

“Retailers are competing for farmers’ business. Farmers have lots of options for where they buy their products,” he says. “They appreciate when their retailers are knowledgeable and can give them advice about where the industry is going.”

The Importance of Involvement

Graham says having the knowledge about national and international regulatory updates is becoming even more important for retailers since the variety of products entering the marketplace is always growing.

“Over the last 10 years, agri-retailers have really been expanding their fertilizer product offerings. Years ago, the standard NPK products were the bread and butter. But now, there are more and more products that have come into the marketplace, and if retailers can provide more information to their customers about those products, then hopefully that creates additional opportunities for agri-retailers to profit.”

Fertilizer Canada has developed various working groups to address specific regulatory issues over the years, and their findings are discussed annually at the CFPF. Some of the current working groups are involved with issues like gathering input for the regulatory proposal on licensing of production facilities, and outlining the top 10 regulatory challenges the CFIA must address.

“The working groups operate as issues come up and there’s usually two to three going at any time throughout the year,” he says. “If agri-retailers have a particular area of concern we encourage them to contact us and get involved with one of the groups.”

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