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U.S.-Canada Consultative Committee on Agriculture (CCA)
December 8, 2011
1. Shared Objectives and Interests
CCA Co-Chairs Meeting Readout
The United States and Canada agreed that both countries should continue to work collaboratively with like-minded countries to bring about broader global consensus on science-based agricultural policies. The United States and Canada agreed to continue working together on Codex. Both countries also maintained that the CCA should support efforts announced under the Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) and the Beyond the Border (BtB) initiatives by providing a forum for reporting on the milestones achieved under the RCC and BtB.
Regulatory Cooperation Council Readout
As announced by President Obama and Prime Minister Harper, the RCC includes an ambitious agenda for food and agricultural regulatory agencies. Both countries agreed that the RCC is a great opportunity to streamline U.S.-Canada trade processes in an effort to become more efficient. Both the United States and Canada will support the work of the RCC, especially at the technical level, and maintain open communication. To date, experts from both the United States and Canada have worked collaboratively to establish an action plan that will make progress on bilateral issues and minimize trade disruptions.
Beyond the Border (BtB) Readout
The United States and Canada acknowledged that BtB is primarily directed towards security policy, although there are some agricultural elements within the initiative, e.g., the possibility of conducting pre-inspection away from the border for certain agricultural products and joint processes for assessing/auditing risk for third-country agricultural imports. Overall, BtB will be a positive step towards smoothing out trade between the two countries. Both the United States and Canada agreed that objectives should be clearly defined and met within the 12-14 month time frames.
While reiterating the overall success of this major organics equivalency agreement, the United States raised an important outstanding issue – a variance agreement for livestock stocking rates. In 2010, the United States made the necessary changes to align itself with the Canadian organic standard. In February 2011, the United States requested recognition from Canada to remove that variance. The United States raised the issue several times since 2011, but has not received a reply from Canada. Canada noted that the next organic equivalency meeting will take place on January 5, 2012 and that an official letter concerning the matter is forthcoming.
Codex Collaborative Approach Update
The United States and Canada both are of the view that collaboration in Codex is important in maintaining science-based food safety standards worldwide. The United States committed to drafting and sharing a concept paper outlining potential areas of collaboration prior to the next meeting.
2. Animal Welfare – Scope for Collaboration
Canada maintained that animal welfare will continue becoming more of a market impediment in North America. Canadais working with its domestic industry to develop tools needed to provide evidence to consumers that animal products are derived from good animal-care practices. Canada is working in the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and with individual countries to reach agreement on standards for appropriate animal care practices that are also consistent with best practices in regard to the environment, food safety, biosecurity, and the overall care for terrestrial animals.
The United States noted that while it does not have federal regulatory authority over the care and welfare of livestock and poultry, it does have authority over the humane slaughter of livestock, the transport of horses destined for slaughter, and the use of animals for research purposes. These may be areas for future collaboration with Canada.
TheUnited Statesis engaged in animal welfare discussions through multilateral arrangements such as the North American Animal Health Committee (NAAHC). TheUnited Statesis also working withCanadato provide comments to the OIE Americas region on an animal welfare strategy that will be submitted for review to regional country delegates from theAmericasduring fall 2012. TheUnited Statesis aware, engaged, and receptive to working withCanadaon animal welfare issues, e.g., research collaboration so there is minimal duplication of efforts.
3. Canada’s Produce Financial Risk Mitigation
Canada reported that it is actively engaged in a working group with USDA colleagues on this issue and has established an intergovernmental task force that is working with its domestic produce industry to develop financial risk mitigation options that would provide similar outcomes as those that exist in the United States. A contractor has been hired to identify possible options by February 2012, with full exploration of those options expected by September 2012. Publication of a work plan with milestones is expected by March 2013.
The United States indicated that its produce shippers are increasingly frustrated with Canada’s financial risk mitigation tools for produce and its satisfaction with this issue being part of the RCC work plan. It encouraged Canada to make progress on this issue and put more effective protections in place for produce shippers.
4. New Technology
The United States queried Canada about the timeline for announcing a scientific opinion on the risks of cloning and Canada's position on adopting a like-minded approach on risk assessment for cloning.
Canada would like to work with the United States on policies for new technologies and acknowledged that both countries share common approaches. Canadais aware of U.S.interest in Canada’s impact assessment on cloning, and was unable to commit to a 12-18 month timeframe for the assessment’s completion. Canadanoted that this issue is beyond the mandate of AAFCand will require work with various governmental agencies. Canada will continue its dialogue with the United States on this issue and will continue to explore options internally.
Genetically Engineered Animals
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently considering a New Animal Drug Application (NADA) related to AquAdvantage Salmon, a genetically engineered Atlantic salmon intended to grow faster than other farmed Atlantic salmon. If approved, this would be the first GE animal intended for food use in the US. The review process for this application started over 15 years ago. As part of this process, FDA is preparing a draft environmental assessment (EA), which when completed will be released for public review and comment. In addition to the draft EA, FDA intends to release a decision document that would contain either FDA’s preliminary finding of no significant impact (FONSI) or a decision to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS). FDA will review the comments it receives from the public on the draft EA and decision document before making a final determination on whether to prepare a final EA and FONSI, or to prepare an EIS. The approval process for the application for AquAdvantage Salmon cannot be completed until either a final FONSI or an EIS has been prepared. FDA hopes to release the draft EA and decision document in the near future, but cannot predict when this might actually happen.
Canada indicated that it has four agencies in the approval process for genetically engineered fish. Those agencies are: Environment Canada, Health Canada, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). These agencies have been active in the regulatory process for the EnviroPig.
Canada would like an update on labeling requirements for genetically engineered animals in the United States. The United States responded that this issue is currently under consideration and no final decision has been made. The United States promised to keep its international partners, including Canada, apprised of the situation.
The United Statesinquired about the process for bringing the EnviroPig to market. Canada responded that while there is no requirement for a public comment period the developers of the EnviroPig made their application public. Canada noted that no public opinion had yet been expressed although the issue is being watched closely by industry.
Plant Biotechnology: Canada’s Public Consultations on Low-Level Presence (LLP)
Canada explained that it has begun work on its LLP policy and mentioned its engagement in a series of public consultations. Canada intends to bring a group of like-minded countries together in spring 2012 to focus on LLP; a draft agenda has been completed (Canada did not share the agenda at the CCA). Canada’s aim is for the development of a new policy that will provide more flexibility for LLPs for countries where it has confidence that the domestic regulatory system is working well.
The United States noted Canada’s leadership on the development of a new policy on LLP and asked for insights gleaned from the public consultations; the United States also requested more details about the upcoming like-minded discussion and suggested that a broader discussion on policies toward new technologies be considered.
Plant Biotechnology: Third Country Issues
The United States and Canada discussed third country issues related to policies affecting the trade in crops derived from new technologies. Progress and barriers were noted. Both the United States and Canada agreed to continue sharing information on third country issues related to the adoption and trade in crops derived from new technologies.
5. Plant and Processed Foods
Canadian Wheat Board: Update from Canada on Change to Wheat Marketing
The United States indicated knowledge that legislation to remove the monopoly powers in the marketing of wheat and barley inCanadawas moving forward, but also noted that a court decision had been issued on December 7, 2011. The United States asked about the effect of the court decision. Canada responded that it planned to appeal the court ruling and to move ahead with the process to finalize the legislation. If the legislation proceeds, the new framework will take effect on all wheat and barley sold as of August 1, 2012.
The United States asked if there were provisions in the new Canadian Wheat Board legislation that relax the current controls on wheat variety registration for seeds for sowing imports. The United States suggested Canadian farmers should have more options for seed purchases. Canada responded that the legislation deals with grain marketing; seed is regulated by different legislation under the authority of CFIA.
Canadian Wheat Board: Discussion on End Use Certificates
The United States wanted to confirm if the Canadian Wheat Board legislation contains a repeal of end use certificates. The United States maintained that if, and when, Canada suspends the use of end use certificates, the United States will do the same. Canada reiterated that if enacted the legislation will allow for open contracting on wheat and barley transactions with delivery dates beginning August 1, 2012. That would be the date for the removal of the end use certificate requirement.
Canada asked the United States to confirm what steps it will need to take to remove its requirements for end use certificates. The United States responded that it will look into the process further, while noting that the authority to terminate the requirements for end use certificates reside with the Secretary of Agriculture.
Canada’s Container Size Requirements
The United States expressed U.S. industry’s concern with Canada’s container size requirements. Canada noted that the requirements are intended to reduce consumer confusion and to promote orderly marketing. Canada also noted that some approved processes to ensure sterility of foods are based on the relationship between several factors including container size and length of time subject to processing. The United States asked Canada if time and advances in technology have resolved the aforementioned policy concerns and if the original intents of the container size requirements are still valid. TheUnited Statesnoted that the burdensome nature of the requirements have been recently noted by honey producers who are generally small in operational size. Canada noted the United States’ comments.
TRQ Administration – U.S. Sugar and Canadian Peanut Butter
Canada noted that in August 2011 a portion of the United States’ World Trade Organization (WTO)’s tariff rate quota (TRQ) for sugar was reallocated to Canada. Canada indicated that it was very pleased with the reallocation and asked the United States if it could be made permanent. TheUnited Statesresponded that it has a WTO obligation with respect to its sugar TRQ and cannot legally make a permanent reallocation without the consent of the country the TRQ is being taken away from. Canada requested that the United States consider imposing container size restrictions for shipments of sugar based on the specifications of the U.S. TRQ for sugar in order to ensure that the United States received the quality of sugar required. The United States noted the request.
The United States inquired about Canada’s mechanisms for distributing its export controls on peanut butter. Canada explained that its quota allocation system for peanut butter includes only historical importers as it has not previously received any requests for new entrants. Under the current system, any unused quota allocation can be returned by August first without penalty. Quota utilization dropped to under 50% in 2011 but in 2008 the utilization rate was 80%. The United States indicated it would like to see all of the TRQ for peanut butter being filled. Canada has agreed to look at the issue of allocating export quotas for new Canadian peanut butter exporters. Canada will keep the United States appraised of the situation and provide contact information for the appropriate Canadian officials who work on the matter.
Canada requested an update on the Lacey Act and encouraged the United States to put in place an exception for products containing a minimal amount of wood, e.g., sweaters with wood buttons, because current regulations under the Lacey Act are burdensome for countries like Canada that do not pose a risk of illegal logging. Canada noted that there could be unintended consequences from the Lacey Act that would be detrimental to a country like Canada. Canada also reiterated that it does not disagree with the United States’ position on combating illegal logging and associated trade.
The United States reiterated its awareness of and sensitivity to the concerns that Canada expressed, and noted its intention to endeavor to administer the statute in a way that achieves the objective of combating illegal logging and associated trade without disrupting or burdening legitimate trade. The United States views the Lacey Act as an important environmental measure and is seeking to strike the right balance with regard to combating illegal logging and associated trade and minimizing any burden to legitimate trade. The United States also explained that an interagency team is preparing a report to Congress on implementation of the Lacey Act and expects to submit the report in the coming months.
6. Livestock and Meat Issues
The United States and Canada discussed third country BSE market access. Progress and barriers were noted. Both the United States and Canada agreed to continue sharing information on third country market access for BSE beef and cattle.
Third Country BSE Market Access for Cattle and Beef Information Sharing: BSE Comprehensive Rule (as it applies to third countries), Update on OTM Beef Rule, Update on Small Ruminant Rule – Transshipment
Canada and the United States shared information on their respective experiences with regaining and expanding market access in third countries. The United States provided an update on the development of the BSE comprehensive rule (as it applies to third countries) and the finalization of the response to the comments received on the OTM Beef provisions of the BSE Second Rule. Canada noted that its interest lies in the promulgation of the small ruminant rule to normalize trade in small ruminant breeding stock and the transshipment of sheep and goats through the United States. The United States mentioned that there is a separate rule being drafted. Until the rule is completed, the United States will consider Canada’s specific request on an interim basis to allow the transshipment of Canadian-origin sheep and goats that are currently ineligible for U.S.entry. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) requested that Canada provide in writing logistical information on how it will plan to ship small ruminants. [Note: Canada submitted the request to the USDA/APHIS National Center for Import and Export, which developed a protocol to accommodate such shipments on an interim basis. The protocol references special logistical parameters involving land and air transportation options for transshipping through the United States.]
Rulemaking: Update on Test and Hold
The United States maintained that as policy currently stands, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) requests, but does not require, that establishments maintain control of all product represented by any samples taken until FSIS receives the results of the sampling. FSIS is reviewing stakeholder comments to a Federal Register Notice issued on April 11, 2011 that announced the Agency’s plan to withhold the mark of inspection until all test results have been received and thus require that establishments maintain control of the product until such time as test results are confirmed as negative for adulterants. Canada noted that it is generally supportive of a “test and control” scenario as long as it is consistently applied for imported and domestic products.
Rulemaking: Update on E. coli
Canada confirmed that it shares the United States’ views on the need to protect human health by addressing food safety concerns, but expressed particular concern about the recently-published Federal Register Notice in which FSIS announced that six additional serotypes of pathogenic E. coli will be declared adulterants in non-intact raw beef. Canada maintained there is limited food safety data and information relative to the impact of these E. coli serotypes in meat. Canada participated in the public meeting teleconference and will submit written comments on this FSIS policy. Canada requested that the United States give these comments careful consideration as it views the E. coli non-O157 STEC policy as trade restrictive. The United States maintained that it is receptive to Canada’s comments and that there is no timeline on when the final Federal Register Notice will be issued. TheUnited States also noted that the comment period for this issue had been extended and is open untilDecember 21, 2011. The United States invited Canada to submit comments on the rule and indicated that it will consider them in the rulemaking process as it moves forward with implementation of this policy.
The United States expressed its interest in the Ontario Hogs Risk Management program. Canada reported that this is a provincial program for livestock with no Government of Canada support. Canada said it has noted U.S. concerns.
7. Updates on Free Trade Agreements
Canada FTAs (E.U., Korea, Colombia, Panama)
With regard to the E.U.-Canada FTA,Canadanoted that there have been nine rounds of negotiations in addition to many meetings and working sessions. Canadastated that it is working toward an ambitious agreement and schedule. Canadastated that all policy matters are on the table, including agriculture.
- Korea-Canada FTA:Canadanoted negotiations are at an impasse.
- Colombia-Canada FTA:Canadanoted that the agreement came into force on August 15.
- Panama-Canada FTA:Canadanoted that implementing agreements were tabled in Parliament in September 2010, but not passed.
Canadaalso noted that its treaties must be: 1) passed by Parliament and 2) accompanied by legislation outlining implementation plans.
U.S. FTAs (Korea, Colombia, Panama)
The United States noted that President Obama signed legislation implementing U.S.trade agreements with Colombia, Korea, and Panamaon October 21, 2011. These agreements have not yet entered into force. The legislatures of Korea, Colombia, and Panama have ratified their respective agreements. The United States has begun cooperative work with Korea, Colombia, and Panamaon implementing the agreements. With respect to agricultural commitments, all three FTA partners will need to make relevant changes to their tariff schedules and set up TRQ administrations.
With regard to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), theUnited Statesnoted that its goal is to finishTPPnegotiations in 2012. TheUnited Statespublished a Federal Register Notice the week ofDecember 5, 2012inviting public comment on Japan, Canada, and Mexicoj oining the TPP negotiations. During that same week, the United States announced establishment of the E.U. Working Group to help further integrate the U.S.– E.U. economic relationship.
Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS2)
The United States welcomed Canada’s report that the Canadian petition for an aggregate compliance approach was approved. This final determination by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a science-based regulatory system and free and open trade. EPA’s approval of Canada’s petition to use the aggregate compliance approach, together with last year’s approval of the canola-based biodiesel pathway for meeting RFS2 mandates, provides Canadian biofuel producers with exactly the same access to the U.S. biofuel market as U.S. producers.
Recent Activity and Future Work of Global Bioenergy Partnership (GBEP)
The United States encouraged Canada to participate in the GBEP to counter the numerous European voices in this Partnership, which tend to focus on the challenges posed by bioenergy rather than the benefits. Canada has not attended GBEP meetings for more than a year. Canadanoted the United States’ request and committed to discussing it further in Ottawa.
Perspective on E.U. Renewable Energy Directive
The United Statesis concerned that the E.U. Renewable Energy Directive (RED) could negatively impact exports. Canada shares U.S.concerns. The United States and Canada will continue dialogue and information sharing regarding the RED and its ramifications.
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