Strengthening our voice through key partnerships.

When issues affect the entire value chain, CAAR actively looks for opportunities to join forces with like-minded industry groups to ensure all sides of the industry have a seat at the table and the ag retail voice is represented and heard.

Over the past 12 months, CAAR has partnered with various stakeholders to address several initiatives and regulatory issues. According to Mitch Rezansoff, CAAR’s executive director, each issue has presented an opportunity for stakeholders to work together to strengthen the industry.

B620-14 and B622-14

In anticipation of the new CSA B620-14 and B622-14 regulations, which came into effect in January 2018, CAAR worked closely with Fertilizer Canada to represent the industry in talks with Transport Canada. The new regulations increased the frequency of required hydrostatic testing and visual inspections for anhydrous ammonia truck and nurse tanks, leaving approximately 20 per cent of tanks in Canada out of compliance.

The joint effort made by the two organizations resulted in a compromise, just in time for spring application. Transport Canada agreed to provide ag retailers time to complete hydrostatic testing and granted CAAR a temporary certificate TH 0653.1, valid until the end of June, which ensured adequate anhydrous ammonia resources for farmers.

By working together, CAAR and Fertilizer Canada turned a potential crisis into what Rezansoff describes as a “no news is no news” situation. “There was little-to-no disruption. It was business as usual,” he says.

Rezansoff says regulators are starting to recognize the importance of giving all stakeholders a seat at the table early in the process because it’s much easier to introduce changes when they’ve had input from everyone who will be impacted by the outcome.

“As things evolve, we want to make sure we’ve had a chance for input,” he says. “We all agree with safe practices, but what’s critical is that the manufacturer, the retailer and the farmer each have a voice in the process.”

Neonic Product Reviews

Making sure retailers and farmers have an opportunity to give input was at the center of another significant issue that CAAR addressed in 2018 – a proposed phase-out of two neonicotinoid insecticides (neonics). According to Rezansoff, it was important for CAAR to be involved because its members and their customers will be directly impacted by the loss of these valuable and commonly-used tools.

The phase-out, currently being reviewed by Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), would effectively end agricultural use of clothianidin and thiamethoxam, which are used as seed treatments on canola, corn and soybeans to protect them from yield-robbing insects. The phase-out has met resistance from grower and crop associations, many of whom have formed an industry coalition to oppose it.

Rezansoff says CAAR and the coalition were also opposed to the manner with which the review was developed and implemented, as it did not give manufacturers and grower associations opportunity to provide response until quite late in the process.

To ensure the retail voice was represented, CAAR provided input to the industry coalition and strongly encouraged its members to submit their own comments during the PMRA’s 90-day comment period, which closed on Nov. 13, 2018.

With a decision expected in early 2020, it’s too soon to say what the outcome of the review will be; however, Rezansoff says representatives from the coalition are expected to provide updates to delegates at the 2019 CAAR Conference during the Industry Update presentation on Wednesday, Feb. 13.

Creating New Opportunities

Conference delegates can also look forward to hearing about another exciting initiative which will bring together CAAR and two of its industry partners to pool resources and share expertise.

Working with the Western Equipment Dealers Association (WEDA) and the Prairie Certified Crop Advisers (PCCA) Board, CAAR plans to create a hands-on training program to help agronomists improve their understanding of the capabilities of the latest equipment and what it can achieve with the right agronomic advice.

“We’re seeing, more than ever, a convergence of equipment, crop science and technology,” explains Rezansoff. “This course will answer two important questions for agronomists: what impact do their recommendations have on the performance of the equipment and technology, and how does the equipment and technology impact the recommendations they make?”

Rezansoff hopes that the program will be ready to launch at the 2020 CAAR Conference, drawing more agronomists to the annual event by providing an excellent opportunity for education and skills development. He says that partnering with the WEDA and PCCA is the only way that this initiative would be possible, as it allows all three groups to pool their resources, knowledge and expertise.

“That’s why it’s important we have relationships with all segments of the ag industry,” he says. “We all rely on each other to get the job done. Just like growing a successful crop, everything must work together.”

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