Health Canada’s proposal to increase the cost of reviewing and maintaining veterinary drugs by 500 per cent is opposed by the Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP).
Delegates to KAP’s advisory council meeting here Aug. 9 passed a resolution calling on KAP to lobby against the fee increase and to get Health Canada to reassess its current fees and approval process to allow data from other countries when registering veterinary drugs for use in Canada.
“It seems like they’ve come up with these fees without doing their homework,” Manitoba Sheep Association executive director Kate Basford told delegates while speaking to the resolution. “It’s really quite arbitrary. They’ve looked at what other countries are charging and then transferred it. They haven’t looked at the number of livestock that are going to be paying for this. So it’s really creating an unfair trade environment for all commodities and it has some serious ramifications.”
The federal government is downloading costs to farmers and adding red tape and it discourages companies from bringing new veterinary drugs to Canada, added Paul Gregory of the Manitoba Beekeepers’ Association.
“The current fees are already high and that means drug companies are not marketing drugs to smaller industries such as the Canadian sheep industry,” KAP president Bill Campbell said in a news release later. “Our producers are being put in a less competitive position in the global marketplace.”
Six other resolutions were put to delegates and all passed, including one calling on KAP to lobby the Manitoba government to let local governments decide on banning crop residue burning outside the fall period when Manitoba Agriculture regulates crop residue burning.
This spring the Manitoba government considered a province-wide fire ban, Dauphin farmer Don Dewar told delegates.
“For the Province of Manitoba to have some bureaucrat in the Department of Environment deciding that we won’t have any burning in the province I think is wrong,” Dewar said. “We need to let those decisions be made by local governments.”
Hemp and ryegrass are two crops with residues that burn better in the spring than in the fall, he said.
Delegates passed a resolution for KAP to ask the Manitoba government to make trespassing on private property a chargeable offence.
Portage la Prairie farmer Rae Trimble-Olsen said it came up at her local KAP district meeting that trespassers can’t be charged.
The resolution’s preamble noted trespassers risk spreading animal and crop diseases and herbicide-tolerant weed seeds.
Delegates passed two resolutions dealing with licences for foreign, seasonal farm workers.
One asks KAP to lobby the Manitoba government and work with the Manitoba Public Insurance to exempt foreign workers under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program from having to obtain a Manitoba driver’s licence after being in the province 90 days.
The other calls on KAP to lobby the minister responsible for Manitoba Public Insurance to instruct it to develop digital licence training modules in both Spanish and Tagalog and for the Manitoba government to establish a reciprocal agreement with the Philippines and Mexico for driver licensing.
Delegates also passed resolutions for KAP to lobby the Manitoba government to repair and maintain three pump stations diverting water from the Assiniboine River into the Elm River, La Salle River and Mill Creek to keep water levels up and for KAP to meet with International Trade Diversification Minister Jim Carr to discuss Canada ratifying the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
A resolution from District 3 for KAP to lobby the federal government to “disallow the testing, funding and introduction of glyphosate-tolerant wheat in Canada” was not debated because it had no mover.
KAP delegates also heard what Assiniboine Community College (ACC) in Brandon has planned for a new Agricultural Operator’s Program.
The intent is to provide graduates with entry-level skills to work on farms, Tannis James, ACC’s director of continuing studies, told the meeting.
The program will have nine courses, totalling 500 hours at ACC’s Brandon campus.
In addition there will be a two-week, on-farm practicum providing hands-on learning.
Its proposed course applicants have at least Grade 10 education and a Class 5 driver’s licence.
Courses would include safe work practices, employability skills, equipment maintenance, mobile equipment startup and basic operation, GPS guidance system operation, livestock industry equipment identification, grain industry equipment identification and safe transport of implements on roads.