New amendments giver grain companies more power, says farm group
Bill C-4 is being rushed through Parliament so fast that major discrepancies between the Act and the CUSMA agreement it represents have been overlooked by witnesses and Committee members, says the National Farmers Union.
Bill C-4 amends certain existing laws to bring them into conformity with Canada’s obligations under the trade agreement. However, its amendments to the Canada Grain Act go beyond what is required, making substantive changes to Canada’s grain quality control system without proper democratic scrutiny.
The Canada Grain Act governs the Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) which is the institution that safeguards both the quality of Canada’s grain system and the interests of farmers within the grain trade.
“As it stands, Bill C-4 is a Trojan Horse designed to make it easier for grain companies to pay farmers less for their grain. Inserting several unnecessary clauses and fast-tracking it through the House just weeks before planned consultations on revisions to the Canada Grain Act is an end-run around the public process that side-lines farmers and is contrary to the government’s claimed commitment to transparency,” said Stewart Wells, National Farmers Union (NFU) 2nd Vice President
CUSMA has four short clauses about grain. Only the first two – providing grades to wheat grown in the USA according to the same quality standards and handling it as if it were Canadian-grown wheat – require amendments to the Canada Grain Act. However, Bill C-4 amends the Canada Grain Act so that all grains, namely barley, beans, buckwheat, canola, chick peas, corn, fababeans, flaxseed, lentils, mixed grain, mustard seed, oats, peas, rapeseed, rye, safflower seed, soybeans, sunflower seed, and triticale – in addition to wheat – grown in the US become equivalent to Canadian-grown upon delivery into Canada’s grain handling system.