The U.S. Department of Agriculture revoked the privileged
status Canadian produce sellers have enjoyed under the
Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act effective Oct. 1.
Officials at the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service,
which oversees PACA claims, notified Canadian officials of
the change in an Oct. 2 e-mail. AMS e-mailed the undated
letter to Susie Miller, director general of the market and
industry services branch of Canada’s agriculture department
known as Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Miller did not
immediately respond to requests for comment.
“As of Oct. 1, 2014, Canadian entities wishing to file a
formal complaint against a PACA licensee must provide a
surety bond prior to acceptance of the formal complaint for
adjudication,” according to the letter, signed Charles Parrott,
deputy director of the USDA’s fruit and vegetable program.
Those surety bonds will have to be for twice the amount
of the claim, making it difficult for small and medium
growers and shippers to do business with the U.S., said Ron
Lemaire, president of the Canadian Produce Marketing
Association. Sellers would have to pay the existing $100
filing fee plus the surety bonds. “That means someone who
sold $200,000 worth of produce would have to post a bond
of $400,000,” Lemaire said. “The produce industry just
doesn’t have that kind of capital. Our government has let us
Lemaire said CPMA has been working with the recently
formed Fresh Produce Alliance, the Canadian Horticulture
Society and the Ottawa, Ontario-based Fruit and Vegetable
PACA status for
Dispute Resolution Corp. to convince the Canadian federal government to act. “It is very frustrating because
this was avoidable if the Canadian government would
have acted,” Lemaire said. “We had poor bureaucratic
support until this year because they felt it wasn’t an
issue that the U.S. would get tough on. “But it’s being
discussed right now in Parliament,” Lemaire said.
It’s not surprising that the AMS revoked Canada’s
privileged status, said Matt McInerney, executive vice
president of the Irvine, Calif.-based Western Growers.
He has been working on the issue since the PACA trust
was established in 1984, he said. “We were extremely
optimistic earlier this year,” McInerney said. “Then
FDA seeks help for food
Saying it is unable to single-handedly oversee
compliance of the Food Safety Modernization Act,
the Food and Drug Administration is emphasizing
voluntary compliance and other measures.
Through the Food Safety Modernization Act Operational Strategy document, the FDA says public
health will be improved through prevention, voluntary compliance, risk-based oversight and expanded
cooperation in the food safety community, according to a news release.
In a blog post about the document, called “We’re
Reinventing Ourselves to Keep Your Food Safe,”
FDA officials Michael Taylor and Howard Sklam-berg said the new approach will be a “springboard
for discussion.” And we know discussion is needed,
because the strategy that will make FSMA a success
requires significant change in how we at FDA do our
work and how we work with our partners,” according to the blog.
The FDA has been focused on creating regulations
related to the food safety law, passed by Congress in
2010, the agency said the next phase will focus on
ensuring compliance with the rules, the agency said
in a release.
this summer we discovered it appeared the Canadian
government wasn’t going to act.” Produce sellers in the
U.S. ship about $10 million of fresh produce annually
to Canadian buyers who don’t pay, McInerney said.
The Canadian government has failed to live up to a
2011 pledge under the Canada-U.S. Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) to implement a similar program
to protect U.S. companies that export to Canada. The
RCC has identified 29 regulatory barriers to trade,
including the need for Canada to initiate a payment protection program similar to PACA. U.S. and Canadian
officials were set to meet in mid-October to discuss the
“The agency has to design methods to promote widespread voluntary industry compliance with the new
rules, as well as establish preventive/public health-focused inspection and sampling programs to oversee
compliance,” according to the release.
The agency is developing enforcement strategies to be
used when producers, processors, distributors and importers fail to comply voluntarily. The FDA must change
the way it works, according to the release, because of the
global scale and complexity of the food system.
“Hundreds of thousands of growers and processors
worldwide are producing food for the U.S. market,
using increasingly diverse and complicated processes,
managing complex and extended supply chains, and
making millions of decisions every day that affect
food safety,” according to the document. “The burgeoning scale and complexity of the food system
make it impossible for FDA on its own, employing our
historic approaches, to provide the elevated assurances
of food safety envisioned by FSMA and needed to
maintain a high level of consumer confidence in the
safety of the food supply.”
The FDA document said the that food safety depends
“primarily on the food industry.” Food industry
managers must commit to implement science- and
risk-based preventive measures and manage their
operations and supply chains to prove that appropriate
measures are being implemented.
The beginning of the
NWA’s Second Century