CAAR is working with industry leaders to create a policy for navigating MRLs in Canada.

With several industry stakeholders concerned about Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) on exports of Canadian crops, CAAR has joined the MRL Steering Committee to represent agri-retailers throughout the development of a policy for recommendations on pesticide use.

Daniel Caldwell, the crop protection manager at Federated Co-operatives Limited, says the committee was formed last fall to address the urgent issue of new products entering the marketplace in Canada in the absence of established MRLs in certain markets.

“Some of the grain companies became aware that it represents a substantial risk to their business if certain markets were to reject shipments of grain,” he says. “Those companies could be left scrambling to find other destinations or other markets that they could reroute the grain to that did have MRLs established.”

While the issue was originally highlighted by the grain elevators, Caldwell says it affects all industry stakeholders.

“That’s why the committee is such an interesting and diverse group of people with different perspectives and aspects of involvement,” he says. “In the end, all stakeholders across the Canadian grain industry require strong, stable markets for the grains we produce here.”

The committee was formed from a cross-section of industry participants including growers’ associations, manufacturers of crop protection technology and exporters. CAAR represents agri-retailers and is joined by CAAR member companies, Federated Co-operatives Limited and Blair’s Family of Companies. The committee is developing a consistent policy for recommendations and assessments on pesticide use.

We all came together and we are working together to solve an issue in the interest of the health of the entire industry. Daniel Caldwell

Evaluating the Risk

The new policy will help industry members adopt new products, and will also help identify new entrants that may constitute a potential risk in markets of interest. The growers’ associations have developed risk models that will be applied to the MRL issue to determine if certain products could pose a threat to any major export markets for any major Canadian crops.

Caldwell says the committee’s next steps will involve finalizing a draft of the policy and seeking feedback from the industry and the public this spring. Once the policy is in place, Caldwell says the role of CAAR members will be supporting, complying with and communicating the message to growers. Ultimately, the goal is to avoid putting any of Canada’s major crops or major markets at risk. The committee is targeting completion of the policy prior to the 2018 growing season.

The Role of Retailers

Delaney Ross Burtnack, president and CEO of CAAR, says every level in the production chain will have a role to play when it comes to navigating residue limits.

“Farmers will need to choose their crop management products carefully, and retailers will play a fundamental role in advising them about their production decisions,” she says. “Grain handlers, exporters and processors will be instrumental in providing market intel. Crop protection product developers are key to ensuring that innovation in crop protection products continues and that existing products are used in a way that protects Canadian crops and export markets.”

As a retailer, Caldwell says if the policy identifies an MRL issue going forward, it’ll be the job of retailers to ensure they’re complying with the sale and use of that product.

“It’s about spreading and extending that message to growers and asking them to support the policy so as not to jeopardize any export markets,” he says.

He adds that it has been very rewarding to be a part of the discussions that bring together many industry members with different interests in and perspectives on the MRL issue.

“We all came together and we are working together to solve an issue in the interest of the health of the entire industry,” he explains. “For me, it’s been really incredible to be a part of it and it opened my eyes to the level of co-operation that exists in our industry.”

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