(Regina, October 22, 2012) Changes to the Canada Grain Act introduced in last week’s omnibus budget legislation repeat the same mistake that gave us e-coli contaminated beef charged Bill Gehl, a durum and wheat farmer near Regina and the chairperson of the western farm group The Canadian Wheat Board Alliance.
“The suggested changes to the Canada Grain Act take quality control of our daily bread back to 1900 when we had rats in the grain. Apparently Finance Minister Flaherty liked the consequences of Minister Ritz’s gutting of inspection at cattle slaughter plants so much that he wants to implement the same system in the grain industry,” Gehl said.
In the new budget the government proposes to remove mandatory inward inspection at grain terminals. This means contaminated shipments may not be caught until they arrive at a customer’s unloading facility, greatly increasing the cost of mistakes and the risk of damaging our reputation for pure grain.
“One would have thought the fiasco at XL Beef which is the direct result of a similar removal of Federal Inspection would have been a red flag to the Minister not to tamper with the Canada Grain Act and terminal inspection” observed Gehl “but it does reflect the ongoing undermining of our grain system by this administration, including removing Kernel Visual Distinguishability (KVD) standards, major cuts to plant breeding programs, loss of PFRA, and of course the theft of farmers’ marketing agency the Canadian Wheat Board.”
Other protections for farmers in the Canada Grain Act will also be eliminated in favour of private sector corporations. For example the requirement for grain buyers to be bonded to cover their obligations to farmers for grain purchases will be replaced with an insurance scheme which will cost farmers more and give an unfair advantage to already established companies with deep pockets.
“Undermining the Canada Grain Act, as this budget proposes, threatens food safety and quality for the people we feed at home and around the world,” concluded Gehl.