The Grower Requested Own Use Import Program has proved very successful with farmers and the Pesticide Management Review Agency must not dilute its ability to save farmers money, says Bob Friesen, CEO of Farmers of North America Strategic Agriculture Institute.
The PMRA has been working on developing a set of regulations governing GROU, but the process is running about a year behind schedule. It recently consulted farm and industry groups about the regulations, but no timeline has been set for when PMRA will present the first draft of its proposed rules for public comment, Friesen said.
GROU evolved out of the Own Use Import program that allowed farmers to bring in lower-priced pesticides from the United States if the product was registered in Canada. There are 25 products listed in the program. Friesen says farmers have saved thousands and thousands of dollars.
SAVING FARMERS MONEY
Peter MacLeod, vice-president of chemistry with CropLife Canada, says pesticide manufacturers have co-operated with the program. “GROU has been a success; it’s done what it was supposed to. It’s become a valuable tool for farmers.”
However, the regulations should include provisions on the licensing of generic copies of brand name pesticides, he said. And the regulations must prevent the development of commercial operations that bring in lower-priced product from the United States. “It’s supposed to be a farmer-only program. We keep hearing about other parties getting involved in bringing in pesticides.”
PMRA also needs to ensure the Border Services Agency and other government departments are onside with the program, he added.
Friesen said the manufacturers tried to get rid of the OIU program when it became successful. “Now that the volumes being imported under GROU are rising, we want to make sure nothing undermines the program. It has delivered a lot of cost savings to farmers and that has disciplined pesticide prices in Canada.”
He said farmers will buy pesticide in the United States with their own permits and arrange delivery with other farmers. “It’s unrealistic to expect 500 farmers to drive to the border to pick up their order. They want it brought in one truck.” The object of the program is to save farmers money.”
FNA said in a statement that “in early April, the price of Pursuit herbicide in many locations was around $1,200 per 3.8-litre jug. At the end of April, many farmers, including members of Farmers of North America (FNA), began importing Pursuit through GROU for $635 per 3.8-litre jug.
“In early May, the manufacturer of Pursuit in Canada, BASF, sent a note to its customers saying the suggested grower price of Pursuit would be reduced by approximately $355 per jug because of changing market dynamics,” the statement added.
“It is estimated that farmers using GROU for Pursuit saved over $3.5 million in the short window it was used. While Pursuit represented a huge savings for farmers, it was only one of 25 eligible products for farmers.”