Fertilizer forum to continue as funding ends

Members of a forum for fertilizer industry players, farmers and others to press for regulatory change say its work will continue after its government-funded project winds down.

The Canadian Fertilizer Products Forum, after two years of full funding by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Advancing Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food (ACAAF) program, is to submit its final report to AAFC in January, executive director Clyde Graham said in a release Thursday..

The CFPF, which received $707,600 in ACAAF funds, said its efforts “have helped improve the regulatory system for fertilizers and supplements to the benefit of agricultural producers and industry stakeholders.”

“The CFPF was able to make improvements to the current system to ensure
that farmers have better access to a variety of high-quality fertilizers and
supplements in a timely fashion,” said CFPF executive member Wendy Omvlee of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. “We still have work to do and will continue working toward additional regulatory improvements in the coming months.”

The forum formed five “working groups” on regulatory efficiency, marketplace monitoring, new products, communications and the use of biosolids. It also set up its website, staged two conferences and put out several publications on the “role and benefits of fertilizers and supplements (as well as) how the current regulatory system ensures the safety and efficacy of products, and research report findings.”

Among its reports were a “situation analysis,” which included a review of Canadian fertilizer and supplement markets, regulatory processes and policies, and potential for “consensus-based recommendations” as well as development of a best practices consultation and communications plan and a comparison of regulatory processes in other jurisdictions such as the U.S, EU, U.K. and Australia.

Fertilizer awareness

The CFPF also oversaw a market research survey of several hundred crop producers in both Western and Eastern Canada on their “awareness” and current use of various fertilizer products, as well as their perceptions and “future needs” for fertilizers, micronutrients, inoculants, wetting agents, slow-release fertilizers and compost biosolids.

The forum reported that it also produced research reports on product registration (including barriers to innovation); emerging market and product development opportunities for the fertilizer and supplement industries; industry standards on fertilizer quality and their impact on the fertilizer industry; and marketplace monitoring for quality assurance control.

“Companies that introduce innovative
products to the Canadian market need assurances that the registration process
conducted by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is done in a timely manner,” CFPF chairman Peter McCann said in Thursday’s release.

“The CFPF worked closely with the regulators to improve the registration
process,” said McCann, an ag industry consultant who represented Plant Inoculants Canada on the CFPF executive. “The result has been an incentive for companies to introduce and keep
important fertilizer and supplements for farmers in Canada.”

At their most recent conference last month, members said they agreed to continue the forum’s work past the end of its federal funding on a “minimal cost to members” basis through the Canadian Fertilizer Institute, where Graham is vice-president for strategy and alliances.

CFI will handle web site maintenance, distribution of updates to members and teleconference calls for four executive committee meetings per year, plus help organize one conference per year on a “cost-recovery basis.” Other options for work by the forum would be considered “if additional funding becomes
available.”

Agricultural producers in Canada spend about $3 billion on fertilizers and supplements per year, the CFPF noted, more than on pesticides, seeds, fuel, or any other crop inputs.

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