Seed Importations and US Residents Accredited as Seed Graders

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With the implementation of the Seed Grader Program for Residents of the US and the Memorandum of Understanding between the CFIA and the United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Services (USDA-AMS), signed on December 19, 2007, US residents can be evaluated and recommended by the (USDA-AMS) to be accredited by the CFIA to assign a Canada pedigreed grade name to certified seed destined for sale in Canada. US graders are issued grader numbers by the CFIA; all US grader numbers begin with the number '7' (i.e. GD7XXX).

US graders are considered GD graders. A GD grader is a grader accredited to review the analytical information on Certificates of Analysis and assign a Canada pedigreed grade name to crop kinds set out in one or more of the following groupings of Tables of Schedule I to the Seeds Regulations (the Regulations) according to the scope of the accreditation:

  • Tables I to VI and XVIII,
  • Table VII,
  • Tables VIII to X,
  • Tables XI and XII,
  • Tables XIII to XV
  • Tables XVI to XX

Prior to the establishment of the Seed Grader Program for Residents of the US, US residents were not permitted to be accredited as graders to apply a Canada pedigreed grade name to seed. Before the sale of seed in Canada, the imported seed from the US was to be graded by an accredited Canadian grader.

Are US graders allowed to apply Canada pedigreed official seed tags?

No, US graders are not permitted to apply Canada pedigreed official seed tags. Nevertheless, tags from the official state certifying agency applied to the seed to be imported are not required to be replaced by inter-agency certification tags in order to be sold in Canada. The grade name assigned by the US grader may appear on a label attached to or printed directly on each package of seed. It is expected that state certifying agencies will not allow the Canada pedigreed grade name to appear on their tag and, therefore, it will likely appear on a different label either attached to or printed directly on each package of seed.

Is a seed import clearance decision required for seed that has been graded by a US grader?

The Seed Import Conformity Assessor (SICA) assesses whether the seed lot presented for import meets the minimum standards for import into Canada. In most cases the seed must meet the Common No. 2 purity and germination standards in the Grade Table for that crop kind.

Yes, a seed import clearance decision is still required to be made by a SICA or by the CFIA on lots imported from the US with a grade assigned by a US grader (subsection 40(7) of the Regulations for authorized importers; subsection 40(4) of the Regulations for non-authorized importers). The SICA or the CFIA is not required to verify the accuracy of the grade but must verify that the grade of the seed has in fact been assigned by a US grader. Submitted information must be reviewed in order to verify compliance with the information requirements pertaining to subsections 40(1), 40(2), and 40(3) of the Regulations so as to make the seed import clearance decision.

Labelling Requirements

If the grade name is applied to seed before import into Canada, then the Canada pedigreed grade name and the accredited grader number must appear on a label attached to or printed directly on each package of seed (paragraph 34(5)(c) of the Regulations). This applies:

  • where the grade of the seed is assigned by an accredited Canadian grader and the information is provided to the labeller of the seed outside of Canada so that the seed is already labelled prior to import and is ready for sale upon import into Canada; and
  • where the grade is assigned by an accredited US grader and the seed is already labelled in the US prior to import and is ready for sale upon import into Canada.

In the case of bulk seed to which a grade name is applied before import into Canada, the Canada pedigreed grade name and the accredited grader number must appear on the bulk seed certificate.

If the grade name is applied to seed in Canada, the Canada pedigreed grade name may appear on a document that accompanies the sale of the seed and does not necessarily have to appear on a label attached to or printed directly on each package of seed (paragraph 34(5)(b) of the Regulations). This applies:

  • where the seed is imported without a Canada pedigreed grade name (but meeting minimum import requirements), the grade is assigned by an accredited Canadian grader, and the grade is applied to the seed prior to sale in Canada; and
  • where the grade is assigned by an accredited US grader and the information is provided to the labeller of the seed in Canada so that it can be labelled and be ready for sale after it arrives in Canada. This situation is not likely to occur frequently, but it is theoretically possible and permissible.
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