For the first time, the cost of complying with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) regulations has been calculated, totaling $657 million each year for Canada’s farmers and agriculture industry. As part of Red Tape Awareness Week, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) presents these findings in its second CFIA Report Card.
The report is based on a survey of CFIB agri-business members and provides a comprehensive review of how the CFIA interacts with farmers, as well as its impact on the agriculture sector. Agriculture is an important part of the Canadian economy – employing two million people and contributing 8.1 per cent of Canada’s GDP.
“Farmers support rules necessary to ensure safe food and are tired of getting the runaround from the CFIA,” says Marilyn Braun-Pollon, CFIB’s vice-president, agri-business. “Spending thousands of dollars and countless hours navigating through confusing forms and contradictory information leaves farmers feeling completely frustrated. And this does nothing to promote food safety.”
Key findings on the CFIA:
- Since 2006, the annual average cost of complying with the agency’s rules and paperwork has increased from $19,000 to $20,396 per agri-business owner;
- Only one-in-five agri-business owners believe the CFIA provides good ‘overall service’, the same as previous findings in 2006, indicating there is no improvement in overall service.
- 60 per cent of agri-business owners say CFIA regulations add significant stress to their lives; and
- 46 per cent report that the agency’s regulations significantly reduce productivity in their business, up from previous findings (40 per cent) in 2006.
While the report shows improvements to accessibility and to the attitude of agency staff, CFIA clearly still has a lot more work to do when it comes to communications and overall service.
“As CFIA modernizes Canada’s food regulatory system through the Safe Food for Canadians Action Plan, we hope they make concrete and practical changes to address farmers’ concerns, as things really do need to change,” concluded Braun-Pollon.
Canadians are encouraged to show their support for CFIB’s Red Tape Revolution by signing the on-line petition (www.cfib.ca/rtaw) that will be delivered to governments.