From November 2020 to March 2021, farmers and industry stakeholders were consulted over a draft Responsible Grain Code of Practice.

Over 850 people participated in 24 consultation sessions. The feedback received and discussions surrounding the draft document have been compiled in an executive summary and report that was released June 9.

In general, the majority of participants in the consultation indicated that they do not support the draft Responsible Grain Code of Practice as it is currently written.

Respondents provided many comments and suggestions to improve the wording and simplify the document, says Synthesis Agri-Food Network, which organized the consultations.

At issue, respondents said they didn’t support the tone of the document, felt there wasn’t a tangible need for the code, and that there is concern that a formalized code will “pave the way” for more regulation.

Other feedback included concerns over the level of record keeping that a code of practice might require, that the wording was too specific, and that regional differences couldn’t be accounted for, calling it a challenge to have a national code that is relevant and applicable in each province, with some viewing it as too complex or “impossible”.

There are suggestions on how to improve the code going forward, as well. Some respondents wish to see the code align with or build on other existing programs such as the Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) and the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Program.

The executive summary also lists the areas where there was the most to least amount of agreement, by topic. Ranked highest (though with some wording changes suggested) was the pest and pesticide management and seed selection and use modules. The least agreed upon segment was the land use and wildlife portion where there was “strong disagreement with most of the Requirements and Recommended Practices.”

The Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Crops steering committee says it will now take the opportunity to focus on the feedback by undertaking analysis, leading to a white paper, to further inform discussion on the Responsible Grain Code of Practice. Specifically, the committee will undertake an assessment of the value and limitations of a voluntary Code of Practice to build public trust; an assessment of the value and limitations of a voluntary Code of Practice to maintain and enhance markets; and the feasibility of a Code of Practice for Canada’s grains industry, considering the entire supply chain

The full executive summary can be found here.

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