Grain grading dispute changes now in effect, while Grain Act review appears to have stalled again

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The federal government has made some regulatory changes to give grain farmers more time to dispute an elevator’s grain grading and dockage assessment.

At the same time, the latest attempt for a broader update to the Canada Grain Act is facing an uncertain future.

Grain producers can now ask for a sample of their grain delivery to be sent to the Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) for a Final Quality Determination for up to seven calendar days after the grain was delivered to a CGC-licensed primary elevator. The regulations previously did not state how long a sample must be retained.

The amendments, which were originally proposed in late 2021, not only clarify how long elevators must store samples, but also remove the obligation for a sample to be taken in the presence of the person delivering the grain, unless the producer asks to be present. In the past, a producer may have been unable to trigger the CGC’s grain grading dispute resolution process if grain was delivered by a third-party truck driver, and they were not present themselves at delivery.

“We are very pleased to implement these enhancements to Final Quality Determination for grain producers. This important producer right now reflects the realities of today’s grain sector and responds to feedback received during the Canada Grain Act review,” says CGC chief commissioner Doug Chorney, in an Oct. 3 statement.

While the grading dispute changes were one of the issues identified through last year’s Grain Act review, which Chorney refers to, they were not the only change recommended by farm groups and industry stakeholders, and it’s not clear what the government is planning is now that the latest review is complete.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) held its latest round of consultations on modernizing the Canada Grain Act in early 2021, and published a “What We Heard” report in August 2021, prior to the 2021 federal election. Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau’s post-election mandate letter published in December 2021 called on her to “continue to explore next steps to modernize the Canada Grain Act and ensure it meets the needs of the sector now and in the future,” but other than the regulatory changes for grain grading disputes, there have been no significant updates since then.

In an Oct. 3, 2022 email, a spokesperson for AAFC tells RealAgriculture “work is ongoing to determine next steps in the modernization process consistent with feedback received from stakeholders. AAFC continues to explore all options for supporting the grain sector in the review process.”

The Grain Act and the role of the CGC in administering it have been under review multiple times over the past decade. There have also been several attempts to update the legislation, including Bill C-48, which was tabled by the Conservative government in late 2014, but died on the Order Table when the 2015 election was called.

Grain companies have been pushing to make outward inspection of grain shipments by the CGC optional, preferring to hire private inspectors. The review could also result in changes to the role and structure of the CGC itself — changes which some farm groups say are necessary citing the large surplus the CGC has accumulated through user fees charged for grain inspection and other services.

Related:

CGC proposes changes to grade and dockage dispute resolution

An overview of producer group submissions to the Canada Grain Act review

Canada Grain Act review delayed by COVID-19

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