Guidelines for Requesting and Administering Ministerial Exemptions for Potatoes
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Import and Interprovincial
- Evidence of shortage
- 2.1 Evidence on case by case basis
- 2.2 Evidence of shortage based on 60-day forward contracts
- Availability of supply
- Preparation and submission of applications
- Processing of applications
- 5.1. Applications evaluated on evidence of shortage presented on a case by case basis
- 5.1.1. Interprovincial Ministerial Exemptions for potatoes
- 5.1.2. Import Ministerial Exemptions for potatoes from the United States
- 5.1.3. Import Ministerial Exemptions for potatoes directly imported from countries other than the United States
- 5.2. Applications evaluated on evidence of shortage based on 60-day forward contracts
- 5.3. Requirements for all applications
- 5.1. Applications evaluated on evidence of shortage presented on a case by case basis
- Payment for Ministerial Exemptions
- Amendments to Ministerial Exemptions
- Payment for amendments
- Appendix A: Centre of Administration
- Appendix B: Request for an Exemption to the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations (Form CFIA/ACIA 4685)
- Appendix C: Example - Ministerial Exemption
- Appendix D: Check-list of information to include on a 60-day forward contract
- Appendix E: Example of a contract attestation for the purpose of Ministerial Exemptions for the interprovincial or import movement of potatoes
The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations (Regulations), under the Canada Agricultural Products Act (Act), prescribe packaging, labelling and grade requirements for fresh fruits and vegetables entering into interprovincial or import trade in Canada.
Potatoes are one of 30 domestically produced commodities whose trade is regulated, whether the product is marketed fresh to consumers or is intended for further processing. Processors or packers are free to source their supplies from the area or supplier of their choice provided those supplies comply with all the requirements of the Act and the Regulations.
Potatoes, which have grade names established in the Regulations, must meet mandatory quality standards when being marketed in interprovincial and import trade. The quality parameters prescribed by the Regulations include minimum and maximum size limits, standards for uniformity of shape and maturity, as well as establishing tolerances for the presence of defects which affect the marketability of product.
Additionally, potatoes are subject to packaging and labelling rules and are required to be certified as meeting regulatory requirements when marketed in interprovincial and import trade. Pursuant to subsection 5(2) of the Regulations, potatoes, a product for which a grade is established, may not be marketed in import or interprovincial trade in containers exceeding 50 kg. As such, potatoes moving in bulk containers (bins, sacks, etc.) in excess of 50 kg or without proper markings, whether graded to meet the minimum quality standards or not, do not comply with the regulatory requirements set out in the Regulations for packaging and/or labelling.
Under certain circumstances, regulatory requirements may be exempted and movement of non-compliant product from another province or country may be permitted. Pursuant to subsection 2.2(2) of the Regulations, the Minister or a delegate of the Minister may exempt a product from the minimum grade (quality), labelling and/or packaging requirements prescribed by the Regulations, where the Minister considers it necessary in order to prevent or alleviate a shortage of potatoes in Canada.
The labelling, packaging and quality requirements may be waived when a Ministerial Exemption is requested for processing purposes. Only the labelling and packaging requirements may be waived when a Ministerial Exemption is requested for repacking purposes. The quality requirement will be dictated by import or interprovincial regulatory requirements and in some cases, the applicant's specific requirements (e.g., Agtron requirements, size, etc.). It should be noted that in all cases, health and safety requirements will not be waived.
Such discretionary authority provides the Minister with the ability to assist packers and/or processors to obtain the supplies necessary to continue operating and to meet demand for products by sourcing available supplies from another province or another country.
These Guidelines for Requesting and Administering Ministerial Exemptions for Potatoes are used by the Minister, or a delegate of the Minister, in exercising his or her discretion to issue Ministerial Exemptions for interprovincial and import trade of fresh potatoes. In the case of Ministerial Exemptions for fresh fruit and vegetables, the Minister's authority has been delegated to officials within the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Any reference to the Minister in these Guidelines includes the delegated officials within the CFIA.
2. Evidence of shortage
An exemption from the regulatory requirements may only be issued by the Minister where it is necessary to prevent or alleviate a shortage in Canada, and individuals seeking product should demonstrate, with evidence satisfactory to the Minister, that a shortage in supply exists.
2.1 Evidence on case by case basis
Evidence of shortage for potatoes will generally be considered adequate if, as a minimum, applicants verify availability of domestic supply within their respective province. Evidence of shortage may be obtained through the following sources:
- known suppliers of potatoes;
- producer organizations, Marketing Boards, commodity commissions, associations, etc.; or
- any other source of information which may be beneficial to the Minister's delegate in determining the availability of domestic supply and/or considering the application for Ministerial Exemption.
(Note: Provincial Departments of Agriculture may be contacted to determine appropriate organizations or Marketing Boards.)
For potatoes, applicants need only verify availability within the receiving province for both interprovincial and import exemptions.
In most cases, the Minister will consider that the requested product is not available if the applicant can demonstrate (e.g., facsimile transmission verification report) that no response was received by the applicant within two (2) working days of the receipt of the request for information. Responses should only indicate if supply is available or not. In cases where the suppliers, associations, boards, etc., indicate that suitable quality of supplies are available in their province, they are to provide the applicant with satisfactory information on sources of those supplies, i.e., grower's name, address, telephone number, as well as the volume, expected date of availability or other such information that would indicate the supply situation.
Evidence of shortage should accompany the application. Documentation may be forwarded to the CFIA Centre of Administration - see (Appendix A) by letter, facsimile, electronic mail messages or other means of printed communication. With the exception of electronic mail, it is required that evidence of shortage documentation be on the letterhead of the organization and signed by a responsible representative of the organization. Suppliers, associations, boards, etc., are expected to provide prompt written responses to an applicant's request for information. Notations about shortages on the Ministerial Exemption application will not be accepted as evidence of shortage.
In addition, any other information which may be beneficial to the Minister in determining the availability of domestic supply and/or considering the application for Ministerial Exemption may also be taken into consideration.
If supply is determined to be available in Canada, the Minister will reject the application or portion thereof until supply is not available.
Applicants are required to identify dates for shipping of potatoes to assist in establishing appropriate start dates and cut-off dates for the Ministerial Exemption.
2.2 Evidence based on 60-day forward contracts
In the absence of evidence to the contrary, applicants requesting Ministerial Exemptions may use 60-day forward contracts as sufficient evidence of shortage or anticipated shortage in the availability of domestic supply.
A 60-day forward contract must contain at a minimum the information contained in Appendix D.
In lieu of a copy of the actual contract, the applicant may provide the CFIA with a contract attestation which must be signed by a lawyer, notary public or justice of the peace. An example of a contract attestation is provided in Appendix E. The Centre of Administration will keep copies of all Ministerial Exemption documentation on file.
When applying for a Ministerial Exemption based on a 60-day forward contract, where the applicant is not the end-user, the end-user must provide the applicant with a letter, on their letterhead, indicating the quantity of produce that they have agreed to purchase from the applicant, a copy of which the applicant must provide to CFIA with their application.
Note: In the case where applicants are not end-users, letters from end-users must cover the total volume in the 60-day forward contract or the Ministerial Exemption will be restricted to the volume that the end-users have indicated that they have agreed to purchase.
It should be noted that when providing a 60-day forward contract or contract attestation to the CFIA, information may be accessible or protected, as required, under the Access to Information Act. Therefore when submitting these documents, they should be identified as "Confidential Documents" either on the document itself or in an accompanying letter.
3. Availability of supply
In the evaluation of supply, applicants may only include additional quality parameters which are quantifiable or measurable and which could be verified through inspection. Quality parameters will be considered on a case by case basis by the Minister. Examples of applicants' quality parameters include, but are not limited to: Agtron readings or size requirements.
To assist the Minister and potential suppliers in assessing shortage or available supply, applicants are requested to include any additional quality parameter requirements in the Special Tolerances section of the Ministerial Exemption application.
The quality parameters stated on the application will be taken into account when availability of supply is being verified. However, these parameters cannot be in contradiction to other information supplied on the application. For example, an applicant cannot request that the Ministerial Exemption waive the grade to "field run" and also request that potatoes be inspected to "US No. 1".
Generally, in the case of potatoes for processing, the product need not meet one of the grades specified in the Regulations, but may be subject to the quality parameters specified by the applicant on the application.
In the case of potatoes for repacking, only labelling and packaging requirements may be waived.
Availability may be subject to review in the exercise of determining shortage for potatoes. In these instances, the CFIA may verify the quality of potatoes offered as being available.
Among other measures, if non-compliance with these Guidelines is determined, the Minister may refuse to consider Ministerial Exemption applications or evidence of shortage letters.
4. Preparation and submission of applications
The applicant completes an application for a Ministerial Exemption and submits it to the CFIA (Centre of Administration) along with the supporting evidence (e.g., letter from industry association, 60-day forward contract or contract attestation) and payment for the number of loads requested.
A standardized Request for an Exemption to the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations form (CFIA/ACIA 4685) is attached to these Guidelines (Appendix B). This interactive form may be downloaded from the CFIA website, or photocopied or typeset copies may be obtained from the Centre of Administration (Appendix A).
The applicant is responsible for verifying that the potatoes for which a Ministerial Exemption is requested are in compliance with any other applicable federal acts and regulations, e.g., Food and Drugs Act and Regulations, Plant Protection Act and Regulations, etc. Note that a compliance agreement, plant health permit or phytosanitary certificate may be required for the importation of potatoes. The applicant is responsible for providing the plant health permit number in the "PPD No." box on the application.
For applicants using the case by case method of providing shortage, applicants may forward the application for a Ministerial Exemption to the CFIA and the request for evidence of shortage to the producer organization (or other such supplier) simultaneously. However, the application will not be processed until the application is considered to be complete.
For applicants using the 60-day forward contract method of providing evidence of shortage or anticipated shortage, the CFIA requires that a copy of the actual 60-day forward contract between the participants or a contract attestation be submitted to them a minimum of 60 days prior to the commencement date of shipping. If the contract is not received a minimum of 60 days prior to the commencement date of shipping, the start date on the Ministerial Exemption will be adjusted accordingly.
The CFIA will issue a reference number, which the applicant must include on each application for a Ministerial Exemption submitted based on that 60-day forward contract, in the box titled "Reason for Exemption Request". The 60-day forward contract or contract attestation will be kept on file and the CFIA will deduct the quantity accordingly from the total loads specified.
5. Processing of applications
5.1 Applications evaluated on evidence of shortage presented on case by case basis
Upon receipt of a completed application to the Centre of Administration (refer to Appendix A), CFIA officials shall:
- review the application and submitted evidence to ascertain the completeness of the submission; and
- ensure the proper payment for the Ministerial Exemption is received.
If deficiencies are apparent, the applicant will be advised by the CFIA and the application will be placed on hold until the required information has been supplied or the proper payment has been received.
When the application appears to be complete, the Minister may
- verify, prior to approval, any plant health requirements; and
- if necessary, seek additional information relating to the application from other relevant parties in order to arrive at a decision.
When satisfied that all requirements have been met, the Minister will generally approve the requested Ministerial Exemption, approve a portion of it or deny the request if an apparent shortage in the available supply from domestic production is not confirmed.
5.1.1 Interprovincial Ministerial Exemptions for potatoes
A Ministerial Exemption with a Ministerial Exemption contract number will be printed on CFIA letterhead for each individual load requested and signed by a CFIA delegate (e.g., if a Ministerial Exemption is authorized for 3 loads, three separate Ministerial Exemptions will be printed and numbered 1 of 3, 2 of 3, and 3 of 3). The Centre of Administration will forward the Ministerial Exemptions, with signatures, to the applicant and a copy to the appropriate CFIA shipping point and receiving offices. A Ministerial Exemption signed by a CFIA delegate authorizing movement must accompany each load.
5.1.2 Import Ministerial Exemptions for potatoes from the United States
The Ministerial Exemption will be issued on CFIA letterhead with a Ministerial Exemption contract number. This Ministerial Exemption will indicate the total number of loads granted (Appendix C).
In the case of potatoes from the United States, the issued Ministerial Exemption will be faxed to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the appropriate CFIA receiving office and the applicant. The USDA Washington, D.C. office will forward a copy of the Ministerial Exemption to the appropriate state shipping point office.
The USDA shipping point inspector will issue an inspection certificate certifying that this particular load meets the requirements of the Ministerial Exemption issued under Ministerial Exemption contract No. XXXX. This inspection certificate will be in the form of a Memorandum of Inspection for Canadian Destinations (FV-205).
Should a bulk load arrive at the border and not be accompanied by a proper USDA certificate citing a Ministerial Exemption contract number, the load will be refused entry.
5.1.3 Import Ministerial Exemptions for potatoes directly imported from countries other than the United States
In the case of potatoes directly imported from countries other than the United States, the Ministerial Exemption is not forwarded to the USDA by the CFIA.
In this situation, a Ministerial Exemption will be printed on CFIA letterhead for each individual load requested and signed by a CFIA delegate (e.g., if a Ministerial Exemption is authorized for 3 loads, three separate Ministerial Exemptions will be printed and numbered 1 of 3, 2 of 3, and 3 of 3). The CFIA will forward the Ministerial Exemptions, with signatures, to the applicant and a copy to the appropriate CFIA receiving office.
The applicant must ensure that a Ministerial Exemption is at the Canadian point of entry when each load enters Canada (e.g., send the Ministerial Exemption to the Customs' Broker at the point of entry) to ensure that every load is accompanied by a Ministerial Exemption.
Note: Directly imported means that the load is entering Canada without passing through any other country or is passing through the United States under a Customs Bond.
The applicant is required to notify the nearest CFIA inspection office of the arrival of the load of potatoes, where, if necessary, an inspection will be performed to ensure compliance with the terms of the Ministerial Exemption. Should the load not comply with the requirements, the applicant will be given options for its disposal.
Failure to notify the nearest CFIA inspection office will result in further control measures to ensure that loads comply with the terms of the Ministerial Exemption.
5.2 Applications evaluated on evidence of shortage based on 60-day forward contracts
Applicants who wish their request for a Ministerial Exemption to be evaluated on evidence of shortage based on a 60-day forward contract may request that the Ministerial Exemption be issued for the entire quantity of produce stated in the contract or separate requests may be made for portions of the total quantity. The reference number issued by the CFIA upon first receiving the 60-day forward contract or attestation to such a contract must be included on all related Ministerial Exemption applications, in the box on the application titled "Reason for Exemption Request".
Submission of the contract or contract attestation would therefore not be required with each subsequent Ministerial Exemption request as the 60-day forward contract reference number would suffice. Ministerial Exemptions based on 60-day forward contracts will be processed in accordance with section 2.2 of these Guidelines.
Applicants are required to submit an application for each Ministerial Exemption requested to the CFIA (Centre of Administration - see Appendix A). CFIA officials shall:
- review the application and contract or contract attestation, to ascertain the completeness of the submission and if the application refers to a previously submitted contract or contract attestation, the 60-day forward contract will be verified;
- ensure the proper payment for the Ministerial Exemption is received.
If deficiencies are apparent, the applicant will be advised and the application will be placed on hold until the required information has been supplied or the proper payment has been received.
When the application appears to be complete, the Minister may:
- verify, prior to approval, any plant health requirements; and
- if necessary, seek additional information relating to the application in order to arrive at a decision.
5.3 Requirements for all applications
Ministerial Exemptions are issued for a particular province and are not to be used to ship product into another province and are not transferable between applicants.
Ministerial Exemptions will not be restricted to a monthly basis, but may be granted for any period of time subject to evidence of shortage presented on a case by case basis or 60-day forward contracts.
Ministerial Exemptions must expire on December 31st of each year in order to accommodate the contract numbering scheme of the Exemption and Authorization System (EAS).
In cases where quality or suitability of potatoes offered as available is in question, Ministerial Exemptions may be issued on a limited basis until the issue is resolved.
When a Ministerial Exemption is granted for only a portion of the volume requested on the original application, CFIA will advise the applicant of the change in volume. Additionally, when an application is denied, CFIA will advise the applicant of the decision in writing, return the application with a statement that the request has been denied and return the applicable payment.
Once printed and issued by the CFIA, no person shall add, remove or alter any information printed on a Ministerial Exemption. As well, a Ministerial Exemption is only valid for the number of loads indicated on the Ministerial Exemption contract issued by the CFIA.
6. Payment for Ministerial Exemptions
As noted in section 4, the applicant must submit payment of the fee with the application for a Ministerial Exemption to the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations.
In accordance with Item 1 of the Table in Part 6 of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Fees Notice pursuant to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act, the fee prescribed for Ministerial Exemptions shall be paid at the time of the request for a Ministerial Exemption or be payable on receipt of a statement for services supplied by the CFIA.
The fee that is payable for a Ministerial Exemption conferred under Item 1 of the Table in Part 6 of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Fees Notice is $20.00 per loadFootnote 1.
No refund will be given for unused portions of an approved Ministerial Exemption, except in the case where the CFIA has terminated the Ministerial Exemption earlier than stated on the Ministerial Exemption.
When a request for Ministerial Exemption is denied, the CFIA will return the application along with the payment to the applicant.
7. Amendments to Ministerial Exemptions
The applicant must complete a new application for any amendment to an existing Ministerial Exemption. The application for an amendment must be submitted to the Centre of Administration.
In certain circumstances, the applicant may be asked to provide additional evidence that the product is still in shortage.
Amendments to Ministerial Exemptions issued based on 60-day forward contracts may be issued if they are not in contravention with the original contract.
8. Payment for amendments
No fee will be charged for an amendment to an existing Ministerial Exemption when the amendment is for a change to:
- the name and address of a shipper(s) or adding a shipper(s) in the same province/state;
- the quality requirements (i.e., grade, size or colour); or
- the cut-off date. Note: A cut-off date cannot be extended if the Ministerial Exemption has expired.
A new Ministerial Exemption must be requested with payment when the applicant wishes to increase the quantity from what was originally applied for.
A new Ministerial Exemption must be requested when the applicant wishes to change the state when importing from the United States, or change the province of receipt when moving produce interprovincially.
Appendix A: Centre of Administration
Email: Permission@inspection.gc.ca (preferred method)
Mail: Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Centre of Administration
Permits, Licence and Registration
1050 Courtneypark Drive East
Mississauga, ON L5T 2R4
Hours of Operation:
The Centre is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST. Service is provided in both official languages.
Website: Centre of Administration
Appendix C: Example - Ministerial Exemption
Appendix D: Check-list of information to include on a 60-day forward contract
Appendix E: Example of a contract attestation for the purpose of Ministerial Exemptions for the interprovincial or import movement of potatoes
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