Canada may be a huge country, but chemical companies do not always see it as a big player when it comes marketing some of their crop protection products.
“We’re not really a big market,” Eric Johnson, weed biologist with Agriculture Canada, told attendees at FarmTech.
“Canada is less than three per cent of the pesticide market globally, and of that, less than two per cent is for minor uses. There’s not a lot of incentive for companies to register these products.”
That’s why the government minor-use program can accommodate the needs of Canadian growers in certain situations. The program, a federal initiative started in 2002 and managed by the Pesticide Management Regulatory Agency, was modelled after an American program called IR4.
“It was a good idea to model it after that because we have been able to work closely with IR4 and speed along registrations,” said Johnson.
The program is intended to level the playing field for Canadian producers who, especially in horticulture, compete against American and European growers with access to these products.
Projects covered by the program are all determined by producer groups and not by acreage. Generally, if a chemical company doesn’t think it’s worthwhile to register a herbicide or pesticide for a crop, then that chemical can be considered minor use, said Johnson.
“It’s really a matter of whether companies find it profitable to register a product or not,” he said.
Producer groups interested in using the program should approach their provincial minor-use co-ordinators. Representatives from across Canada meet annually in Ottawa to set priorities. Once the priorities are set, a list goes to the Pesticide Management Regulatory Agency to determine type and number of tests required. Field studies are done and data submitted to a director in Ottawa who makes the submission to the agency. If the data submission is adequate, the pesticide is registered as minor use and is made available. Each year, 37 priorities are selected; 10 fungicides, 10 herbicides, 10 insecticides, five regional priorities and two organic priorities.