CAAR helped set the course for a domestic pesticide use policy that balances innovation and market access.

CAAR continues to represent ag retailers on the Canada Grains Council’s (CGC) MRL Policy Steering Committee, which is currently completing the final steps necessary to release its “Market Acceptance of Pesticide Use” policy early next year.

Market acceptance has been a significant industry priority in recent years, as maximum residue limits (MRLs) in key markets are becoming less predictable. MRLs set the limit of pesticide residue importing countries will accept on harvested grain. MRLs are not a safety limit, and residues can be detected in levels as small as one part per billion. More countries are moving away from Codex, an international standard for MRLs, and are choosing instead to set their own.

Working Toward Predictability

According to Mitch Rezansoff, executive director of CAAR, this lack of predictability is what motivated the industry to form the committee in 2016 and develop a policy for domestic pesticide use.

Ag retail is one of five key industry segments with a seat on the committee, along with product registrants, national commodity associations, grower groups and exporters.

“CAAR is committed to working with the Canada Grains Council to make sure the grain produced in Canada is acceptable in export markets,” says Rezansoff. “We’re an export-based, commodity industry. Having a framework for pesticide use that also demonstrates that our practices are safe is critical.”

The policy includes a three-step assessment to proactively evaluate the risk of a trade disruption due to a chemistry or crop use pattern with a new or amended registration. This balances the need to ensure that pesticide chemistries can be commercialized and put to use on farms across Canada, with ensuring that export markets for Canadian commodities are not at risk.

Seeking Feedback

As the policy got closer to a finalized version in 2019, the CGC published a draft and asked all industry representatives to seek stakeholder feedback from their respective segments. CAAR leveraged its online communication channels to encourage members to review and submit comments on the draft policy before consultation ended on Aug. 31, 2019.

“It was important for us to cast a wide net during our consultations and make sure we heard from anyone who might want to submit a comment,” says Gord Kurbis, vice president trade policy – crop protection, with the CGC.

Kurbis says that across all five industry segments, feedback during the consultation period indicated everyone was on board with the content of the policy, but some clarity on the finer details was required.

“From the feedback that we got, no one took issue with the content that was in the document,” says Kurbis. “There were some very helpful questions that made us realize we could do a better job of clarifying the implementation steps of the policy, so we made some minor editorial changes.”

Putting Products in Growers’ Hands

Now that public consultations are completed, Kurbis says that getting official sign-off from all committee representatives and reviewing the policy at the appropriate board meetings are the last steps required to put it into action. If all goes well, he says the final policy will be released in January 2020.

Kurbis says he believes that this policy will benefit ag retailers and their customers because it will help to put (and keep) products in growers’ hands. The policy accomplishes this through its three-part assessment for new or amended products. The assessment steps are: 1) identification of markets of interest, 2) identification of pesticides of interest, and 3) categorization.

Categorization puts products into one of three groups: Red (do not use), Yellow (be informed) or Green (no recommendation). Categorization is based on three considerations: 1) the likelihood of potential residue from a product on harvested grain; 2) the handling, shipping and processing of the grain; and 3) the grain’s destination and end use. Along with outlining the categorization process, the policy also describes how it will be implemented, upheld and communicated by CGC member companies and associations.

“I think it’s going to make the most crop protection products available compared to any other scenario,” says Kurbis. “It will provide predictability and guidance to registrants who may want to come out with a new tool, re-register an older chemistry or expand their label to include different crops or use patterns.”

CAAR will continue to represent its members in important discussions regarding MRLs and domestic pesticide use to help ensure that retailers have the best information to help their customers make crop protection decisions, something Kurbis says is of strong importance.

“Simply put, it’s important for everybody to be aware,” says Kurbis. “Ag retailers are the face of the industry. They are the ones who growers talk to the most, and the ones who growers get a lot of their information from. We expect this to be a valuable tool for them going forward.”

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