Last month Parliamentarians met with Okanagan agriculturalists to discuss the proposed modernization of Canada’s agriculture legislation under the Agricultural Growth Act (Bill C-18).
Pierre Lemieux, Parliamentary Secretary to Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, and Ron Cannan, MP for Kelowna-Lake Country, met March 12 with key agriculture stakeholders to discuss the proposed legislation.
The government says the Agricultural Growth Act will modernize nine statutes that regulate Canada’s agriculture sector to bring them in line with modern science and technology, innovation and international practices within the agriculture industry.
The Act will strengthen and safeguard Canada’s agriculture sector, the federal government said in a press release, by providing farmers with greater access to new crop varieties, enhance both trade opportunities and the safety of agriculture products, and contribute to Canada’s overall economic growth.
The Act entered Second Reading on March 3.
• Round table participants included Okanagan Cherry Growers Association, Okanagan Plant Improvement Corporation, as well as stakeholders from the greenhouses, fertilizers and tree fruits industries.
• Canadian fruit and vegetable farmers sold $1.7 billion worth of produce in 2013—an increase of 1.4 per cent from 2012.
• Canada’s agriculture and food exports set a new record of $50.5 billion in 2013.
• Since 1992, there have been 232 fruit crop varieties protected under Plant Breeders’ Rights in Canada.
“Intellectual property rights and royalties are critical tools for ensuring the viability of Canadian breeding programs and continued research and development in tree fruits and berries,” said Nick Ibuki, general manager of the Okanagan Plant Improvement Corporation.
“Updating Canada’s Plant Breeders’ Rights Act will better serve not only the interests of domestic and international plant variety owners,” Ibuki said, “but also provide substantial benefits and choices to Canadian growers.”
President of the Canadian Horticultural Council Keith Kuhl, said: “As farms work to match production with the growing global population it becomes increasingly important that they have the tools needed to continue to increase production. New varieties are an important segment of this growth. Ensuring that our plant breeders’ rights regulations are aligned with our global trading partners is imperative.”
“Our government,” said Parliamentary Secretary Pierre Lemieux, “is working to level the playing field and create new market opportunities for our producers. Innovation is the cornerstone of a strong and profitable future for all agriculture sectors and will help our farmers to succeed in the global marketplace,” Lemieux said.
“Our government,” said Cannan, “knows that the agriculture industry plays an important role in creating jobs and driving growth here in the Okanagan.
“British Columbia is a top Canadian food producer,” said Cannan, “and our government will remain focused on the needs of industry to allow Okanagan-grown produce farmers to remain competitive in the global marketplace.”