The eligibility declaration you’ll sign at the elevator this crop year will look a lot like declarations you’ve signed before, but there are some very important differences you need to be aware of.
Team Alberta, the communications collaboration between Alberta’s major commodity groups, is working hard to make sure farmers fully understand the changes made to grain declarations, changes that were necessary as part of Canada’s commitments under the United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) agreement.
“What we’d like producers to understand is that while the declaration they sign at their local elevator looks a lot the same as it has in the past, Part B, in most of the WGEA member declarations, is a legal requirement under the Canada Grain Act now,” says Tom Steve, general manager of Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions.
Formerly, a varietal declaration would be made at the elevator where if the farmer were off-side, it would nullify their contract. Now, they would be breaking the law under the Canada Grain Act. This change happened quickly in the lead up to the USMCA being signed. (Story continues below video)
“In the opinion of the Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions, it’s a bit of a regulatory over-reach to satisfy a requirement under the Canada-U.S. free trade agreement with a relatively across the board change in regulations,” says Steve.
For pulse and canola growers who deal with line companies, they’ll be familiar with grain company declarations. But, the legality concern in the new declaration will also apply to pulse processing and canola crushing plants.
There’s no mechanism for farmers to appeal the declaration if a mistake is made, other than contacted the Canadian Grain Commission, and the situation be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. “Everybody’s in a hurry at harvest, and your grain company sales rep puts a grain company declaration in front of you, and you don’t really read it, but we encourage you to read it,” says Steve.
In the document, the Canadian Grain Commission and line companies have combined the regulatory requirement in Part B, along with all of the other aspects in the section in terms of chemistries applied to the crop, putting the onus even more directly on the farmer.
“As sophisticated as our grain handling system has become, in terms of being able to trace what’s going into the system, and collection of samples, it’s still not a perfect system, so there’s going to be disputes between the farmers and the buyers, and I think we’ve added another level of complexity to that by adding in all the pulse processors and smaller buyers,” says Steve.
As is sits currently, there’s no clear way to resolve disputes should they occur, and there’s growing concern among memberships with the heightening level of liability.
Farmers in Ontario and eastern Canada have received a one-year extension on the eligibility requirement change.