A new declaration Prairie grain farmers need to sign this fall as they deliver grains, oilseeds and pulse crops to the elevator looks simple enough, but farmers should be aware signing it is now a regulatory requirement that comes with legal consequences if someone messes up with deliveries.
It is unlikely, or perhaps even rare, that farmers will run into problems, says David Bishop, chair of Alberta Barley, but producers need to know what they are signing since this new declaration was slipped into the grain delivery process without any farmer consultation.
According to the Canadian Grain Commission (CGC), the Declaration of Eligibility for Delivery of Grain is a document required to bring Canada into line with the requirements of the new Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) trade deal that replaces NAFTA. Regulations now included in the Canada Grains Act require this declaration to be signed and specifies penalties of several thousand dollars in fines and/or jail time if a commodity not covered by the declaration is delivered to an elevator. The new declaration came without warning.
“That is probably the bigger issue in my mind,” says Bishop, who farms near Barons in southern Alberta. “The Canadian Grain Commission had no consultation with producers. This new declaration, which is now a regulatory requirement under the Canada Grains Act, was simply introduced. It could have consulted with national or provincial farm organizations by simply asking, ‘What do you think, is this a good way to go about this?’ But we were just told, ‘here is the new declaration.’”
Bishop says Prairie farmers have always had to sign a contractual declaration — between the farmer and the grain elevator. That declaration said the farmer was delivering the type and quality of grain he said he was delivering. “But mistakes can happen,” says Bishop. “So, if it was determined the farmer was hauling something different than was stated, then the elevator might have downgraded the load or classified it as feed, or if somehow the mistake was caught before it got unloaded, the farmer just hauled it home.”
The new declaration is a one-pager and is pretty straightforward, points out Remi Gosselin, CGC communications manager. It only needs to be signed once per crop year, per licensed facility, and it covers all grain types to be delivered that year — not just cereal crops. The declaration applies to all the commonly grown grains, as well as most pulse and oilseed crops.
“All persons or commercial entities licensed by the CGC need to sign the declaration when delivering commodities to any CGC licensed facilities,” Gosselin said in a recorded interview. “The declaration attests to the fact that the grain is of a registered variety in Canada and, if applicable, that the variety belongs to a specific class depending on the commodity being delivered. The declaration is a low-cost approach to protection of Canada’s grain-quality system and brand reputation.”
The declaration also makes it possible to “reconcile the different regulatory systems between Canada and the U.S.,” Gosselin says.
“Farmers need to be aware they now have one more layer of liability applied to their farming operation,” says Bishop. “If a producer delivers something that they shouldn’t — some variety not registered in Canada — there are teeth in the act that can be applied. Time will tell just how quickly the CGC will enforce the penalties of the new regulations if producers deliver something that is not covered by the declaration.”