U.S. –Canada Consultative Committee on Agriculture (CCA):
November 14, 2003, Washington, D.C.
1. CCA Business
The meeting was called to order by the CCA co-chairs. The agenda (Annex 1) was adopted. List of participants (Annex 2) is attached.
b) PSAG Action Item Review
Both countries noted the increased goodwill between the CCA and the
Provinces/States Advisory Group (PSAG) as exemplified by working agendas for the CCA and the PSAG and called for a continuation of this relationship.
2. Plant Issues
a) Seed Tag
The United States asked for an update on its request to Canada to recognize
U.S. states free of karnal bunt, and to accept the use of certified seed tags in
lieu of phytosanitary certificates which require testing each shipment of
wheat/durum/triticale. The United States noted that during bilateral plant
health talks in late 1998, Canada agreed to recognize and accept wheat/durum/triticale
without laboratory testing from states that had been declared free of karnal
bunt based on official surveys over a period of 3 years. Currently, all of the
United States, except the infested states (California, Arizona, New Mexico, and
Texas), is free of karnal bunt. Canada responded that it is awaiting a response
to correspondence from CFIA to APHIS, requesting further information on the seed
tag certification program and how it would be administered in relation to
phytosanitary protection. Both countries agreed that this issue could be
resolved through bilateral discussions, possibly, at the next bilateral
b) Floriculture Trade
Canada noted that shipments of cut flowers currently have easier access to the United States. According to Canada, prior to the April 2003 CCA, several shipments were held at the ports of Detroit, Port Huron, and Buffalo due to concerns that not all of the flowers were of Canadian origin. Canada thanked the United States for progress made as a result of APHIS' educational sessions with Canadian floral shippers, as well as other joint activities. Both countries noted the resolution of this issue as a success story.
c) Seed Certification Laboratory Accreditation
The United States noted the significant progress made by both countries with respect to the accreditation of seed graders outside Canada and indicated that the United States is expected to put a verification program in place during 2004. The United States requested that once this happens, Canada should take the appropriate steps to recognize U.S. certification. Canada responded that a meeting would be scheduled by the end of the year or at the beginning of 2004 on this issue and that it would provide for official recognition in a timely manner once the U.S. verification program is in place. Canada stated that it would verify whether there was a need for regulatory changes to be able to officially recognize a U.S. verification program. Both countries expressed a willingness to move this issue forward and agreed to send Canada's response to an April 2003 PSAG letter on this issue to the respective PSAG co-chairs.
d) Canadian Bulk Shipment Restrictions/Ministerial Exemptions
The U.S. delegation noted that concerns with the administration of
(MEs) are often raised by its industry, and that there are segments of the U.S. industry that feel strongly that trade is restricted by Canada's restrictions on bulk shipments. The United States requested an update on the following three ideas to reform Canada's bulk waiver system, which were tabled at the April 1, 2003, CCA: (1) that Canada open the Ministerial Exemption application process to foreign producers; (2) that consideration of "shortages" be restricted to shortages in the receiving province; and (3) that price be included as a determining factor in the approval process. Canada responded that the Canada Agricultural Products Act does not allow for foreign application and enforcement action. Canada further explained that only provinces in the geographical area, which includes the requesting province, needed to identify available supplies. Specifically, applicants in provinces of Ontario and east, must determine availability
in this geographic area. Applicants in Manitoba and west, must determine availability in this geographic area. According to Canada, the Canada Agricultural Products Act only provides the authority to grant exemptions for the purpose of alleviating a shortage of supply and does not include any consideration of price. Hence, inclusion of the consideration of price in the process would require a legislative change. The United States stated that this trade restrictive measure potentially violates Canada's international obligations and stated that it would submit a formal request to Canada for bilateral negotiations on Canada's restrictions on bulk produce shipments. Canada responded that it also has longstanding concerns regarding U.S. measures impacting on produce shipments and presumed that these would be included in any such negotiations.
e) Tomato Trade
Canada requested an update on the Florida Tomato Committee's (FTC)
recommendation that Florida greenhouse and hydroponic tomatoes be subjected to
minimum quality requirements. This request would also require the USDA
Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to subject imported product to similar
requirements. Canada reiterated its objection to the application of minimum
quality import requirements on greenhouse tomatoes. The United States responded
that the FTC's recommendations have not moved forward. Both countries agreed to
delete this issue from the agenda, but would include it should the issue arise
3. Processed Food Product Issues
a) Nutritional Labeling
The United States informed participants that the second National Academy of
Science (NAS) study, jointly funded by U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA),
U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and Health Canada, which will
provide a scientific basis to update the daily reference nutrient values, will
be sent to each of the study sponsors on December 9, 2003. Ten days later, the
study will be released to the public. Once the new Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI)
are in place, NAS will advise on the DRIs that could be used to develop single
reference values for labeling. This would be a significant step towords mutual
recognition of Canadian and U.S. nutrition labels. In the interim, the U.S. side
suggested voluntary labeling. The United States also suggested that the CCA
recommend that once the NAS report is released, both countries should work
together in the NAFTA Technical Working Group on Labeling to identify areas
where we should proceed on a harmonized approach. Canada responded that any
follow-up steps on the U.S. suggestion would depend on the NAS report. Canada
United States to submit a formal request on its suggestion to Health Canada.
b) Mandatory Percentage Declaration of Highlighted Ingredients on Food Product Labels (QUID)
The United States expressed concerns raised by selected U.S. food companies about the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA's) consultations with industry stakeholders on mandatory percentage declaration of highlighted ingredients (QUID) for certain food products exported to Canada. The United States inquired as to why Canada is considering such a requirement, especially since both countries opposed a mandatory initiative for all ingredients for all foods at the Codex Alimentarius Commission. Canada responded that the QUID proposal is in the formative stages and suggested that all concerns be submitted to the appropriate Canadian authorities. Both countries agreed that open workshops and regular updates could help alleviate trade concerns.
4. Livestock / Meat Issues
a) Access for Restricted Feeders and other U. S. Cattle
The United States expressed disappointment at Canadian Agriculture Minister
October 2003 statement that U.S. cattle should not be allowed access into Canada due to concerns about bluetongue and anaplasmosis in the United States. The United States stressed that decisions on this issue should be based solely on science and asked Canada to move forward on this issue as well as the harmonization of diseases for cattle, swine and other animals. To that effect, the United States proposed a problem-solving meeting during December so agreement could be reached where applicable. A letter outlining the U.S. proposal was submitted to Canada. Canada stressed that bluetongue and anaplasmosis, which are present in the United States, are not present in Canada. Canada informed participants that on October 17, 2003, the Canadian cattle industry provided stakeholders (industry and government) with a proposal to remove restrictions on all U.S. cattle. Canada stated that it has continued to amend import restrictions as scientific information has become available. Canada noted that its requirements concerning bluetongue are less restrictive than those imposed by the Organization of International Epizootics (OIE) and that Hawaii and Alaska have been recognized for year-round access. Canada also stated that the proposal for year-round access, which was to start in the Fall of 2003, could not be implemented due to the BSE outbreak in Canada and promised to work with the United States to evaluate this issue. In response to U.S. requests for specific timeframes for meetings, Canada stated that both the Canadian cattle industry and the U.S. National Cattlemen's Beef Association have requested meetings with government officials within the next few weeks and promised to consider the U.S. proposal for a meeting so that an appropriate date could be determined. The United States noted it would closely monitor developments on this issue.
b) Update on Veterinary Drugs Comparison
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine (FDA/CVM)
informed participants that the comparison table on veterinary drugs maximum residue limits, produced through a joint U.S.-Canada effort, has been finalized. FDA/CVM further explained that it was not possible to have complete harmonization of these tolerances due to the differences in the approval processes in both countries. It was also noted that the table, which will be made available upon request, should enable the public to note the high degree of harmonization and that exchange of information between the two countries would continue, including periodic updates of the comparison table. Delegates from both countries thanked the regulatory agencies (FDA/CVM and Health Canada's Veterinary Drugs Directorate) involved for their work on this matter.
c) Bison Trimmings
The Canadian delegation reiterated concerns raised during the April 2003 CCA meeting that Canadian bison trimming exports were abruptly and indefinitely stopped in the Fall of 2001 as a result of the enforcement of a USDA-Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) ingredient policy. Canada stated that the issue concerns the recognition of Canadian produced bison trimmings as eligible ingredients in products produced in FSIS-inspected plants. FSIS responded that its involvement is limited to the labeling issue and that an amendment to its exotic animal regulation to recognize ante mortem and post mortem inspection done by an equivalent foreign inspection system will be initiated. FSIS promised to follow up with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for information about its exotic animal ingredient policy.
5. Other Bilateral/Plurilateral Issues:
The U.S. delegation reviewed the current situation in the WTO agriculture negotiations. Canada noted that the Cancun text should be used as a basis to move the negotiations forward. Both countries noted the need to identify a new chair for the Agriculture negotiations given Stuart Harbinson's intention to step down.
b) WTO Case Regarding the European Union's Biotechnology Moratorium
The U.S. and Canadian delegations exchanged information on current and
developments on this issue, including the European Union's labeling and traceability
requirements. Both countries agreed to share information, coordinate activities and monitor this issue.
c) Update on U.S.-Canada Biotech and Activity Related to the Biosafety Protocol
The United States reaffirmed the importance of both countries' working
regards to biotechnology. Both countries provided an update on the November 2003 meeting on the North American Biotech Initiative (NABI) in Mexico City, as well as the U.S.-Canada-Mexico agreement on the biosafety protocol, with regards to documentation requirements for shipments of living modified organisms. The United States indicated that it is looking at the possibility of having similar arrangements with other countries. Canada welcomed the conclusion of the biosafety protocol and said an announcement on ratification would be made by November 21, 2003. The United States said it would like the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) to assist in informing other countries about the Protocol and expressed pleasure about resolution 27 on biotechnology and biosafety, which will extend the understanding to other countries.
The United States asked Canada for an update on its voluntary labeling requirements, the approval process for biotech wheat, as well as CFIA and Health Canada's pilot project to post information on the internet about the safety assessments of biotechnology-derived crops, livestock feeds, and foods. Canada responded that the Voluntary Labeling Standard was approved in July 2003; notification went out in October for comments and may be published in March or April 2004. Canada stated that approval for biotech wheat is still under review. Regarding the pilot project, Canada informed participants that regulatory submissions on biotech will be posted on the CFIA's website in order to increase transparency of the process. Canada said it would like to continue using existing channels, such as bilateral conference calls, to discuss common biotech issues.
d) Canada's Implementation of May 2003 WTO Dairy Agreement
The United States thanked Canada for the cooperative approach exhibited during the resolution of this issue, which was well received in the United States. In order to respond to U.S. industry enquiries regarding compliance issues pertaining to U.S imports of Canadian dairy products, the United States asked how such enquiries could be handled in the future. It was agreed that both countries should continue to work through their respective Embassies to exchange information. It was noted that this channel had been very effective in dealing with an earlier enquiry.
The United States requested an update on a proposed new Canadian dairy export program. Canada stated that preliminary federal-provincial discussions on policy considerations with respect to dairy exports were taking place. This policy review is being pursued to assist the industry and the provinces in their discussions regarding Canada's participation in dairy export markets. Canada emphasized that such discussions will take into account Canada's trade obligations and existing milk marketing structures. Canada offered to provide updates as this issue proceeds.
e) EU Hormones Ban
Both countries provided an update on the EU's decision to return to the WTO to request the elimination of U.S. and Canadian retaliatory duties and agreed to work together on this issue.
Canada expressed appreciation to the United States for its August 8, 2003, announcement regarding USDA's decision to accept import permit applications for selected ruminant products from Canada following the discovery of BSE in Alberta. Canada stated that the reopening of the U.S. border is in the interest of both countries and indicated that some other countries have also reopened their borders to selected Canadian products. Canada promised to continue working with USDA and FDA in the context of an integrated market and that it would continue to consult before any changes are made to its BSE risk mitigation measures. Canada noted that a letter was sent on September 5, 2003, by the three NAFTA countries to the OIE to request that international standards be updated to reflect current science, BSE mitigation measures and advances in the understanding of this disease. Canada stated that it was encouraged by the response from the OIE to date on a number of points, in particular the need for member countries to fully implement the code provisions for trade with countries that have detected BSE. Canada also requested assistance to obtain an import permit for a flavored noodle producer, which the United States agreed to investigate.
g) U.S. Bioterrorism Regulations/Implementation
Canada expressed gratitude to the United States for reflecting many of its concerns in the October 10, 2003, interim rules and said it will submit additional comments for the final interim rule as well. Canada noted that the first four months of the rule will be devoted to educating the public but was concerned about the lack of harmonization in timing between U.S. Customs and FDA on prior notification. The United States thanked Canada for its input and comments, which were carefully considered. The answers to frequently asked questions will be available on FDA's web site and Canada was encouraged to sign up to the FDA listserve in order to have prompt notification of this and any other information. The United States informed Canada that the comment period on the Regulations will be re-opened in March 2004 and that FDA is working closely with Customs to implement the new regulations.
h) Ridge-Manley Smart Border Action Plan
Canada said it would like to reinvigorate the cooperation on biosecurity under the Ridge-Manley Smart Border Initiative since recommendations from the initiative could lead to flexibility on bioterrorism. The United States also supported the Ridge-Manley objectives and looked forward to working with Canada.
i) Country of Origin Labeling
Canada thanked the United States for the thorough analysis done on the voluntary guidelines and the effort made to respond to the Government of Canada's comments on the guidelines in the publication of the Proposed Rule. However, Canada stated the law is fundamentally flawed and has serious concerns that it will distort trade and if implementation proceeds, Canada would have no option other than to review legal remedies in response. The United States encouraged Canada to submit comments on the Proposed Rule during the 60-day comment period that ends on December 29, 2003.
j) Update on Pesticide Harmonization
The United States informed participants about accomplishments made by the
NAFTA Technical Working Group (TWG) towards harmonization. Some of the
accomplishments include: harmonized data requirements; greater access to pest
control tools for minor use crops; increased availability of lower risk
pesticides; promotion of integrated pest management programs for crops of shared
interest and establishment of worker safety training programs. Participants were
also informed about the TWG's upcoming December 3-5, 2003, government and
stakeholder meetings in Vancouver, as well as the TWG's 5-year plan, which
includes robust stakeholder participation; full North American collaboration;
equal access to markets/tools in the areas of trade; safety; sustainability and
communication. Regarding Canada's proposal to eliminate its 0.1ppm default
maximum residue limits (MRLs), Canada indicated that the proposal will allow
Canada to be more harmonized with the United States in the tolerance setting
process. Canada informed participants that the 90-day consultation period on
this issue ended on April 10, 2003, and that comments are currently being
reviewed. The next step will be publication in 2004 of a formal proposal in the
Canada Gazette Part I, with a 75-day comment period. Canada stated that the new
policy would set tolerances based on science and could result in either higher
or lower tolerances than the current default level. Both countries thanked the
TWG for its accomplishments and expressed support
for the 5-year plan. Achievements of the TWG can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/oppfead1/international/naftatwg/
k) NAFTA at Ten
The United States informed Canada about USDA's planned activities in commemoration of NAFTA's 10-year anniversary, including the publication of a special issue of the Foreign Agricultural Service's publication "AgExporter". The United States also requested information about activities Canada may be planning for the event. Canada responded by noting that it had undertaken promotional activities, the centerpiece being activities surrounding the October 7, 2003, NAFTA Commission meeting in Montreal, including a multi-stakeholder roundtable discussion. In 2004, Canada plans to update publication of statistical documents on trade and investment benefits. The United States suggested, and Canada concurred, that some of the benefits of NAFTA could be highlighted under other initiatives such as the North American Market Integration Consortium. Both countries agreed to request the PSAG to develop some activities on NAFTA for presentation at the March 10-13, 2004, Tri-National agricultural accord meeting in Jalisco, Puerta Vallarta, Mexico. Canada also suggested a joint CCA presentation to PSAG about the benefits of NAFTA during the Tri-National meeting.
6. CCA Wrap Up
a) Next Meeting
The next meeting will be held during the second quarter of 2004 in Canada. Details about the meeting will be provided by Canada.
b) Report to PSAG
As in previous years, both countries will jointly provide an update on CCA
activities to the PSAG during the March 2004 Tri-National Agricultural Accord
meeting in Mexico.
February 20, 2004