Importation of seed by authorized importers to other locations

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Background

The authorized importer (AI) program was designed to delegate seed import clearance decisions to accredited industry personnel. Seed establishments that are registered pursuant to section 81.1 of the Seeds Regulations can import seed on minimum documentation and are responsible for reporting such imports to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Seed import release agents (SIRAs) are accredited individuals responsible for making seed import conformity assessments based on foreign seed analysis certificates.

The AI program is modelled on the approved conditioner (AC) program. The AC program allows industry to sample, test, grade and label (i.e., certify) seed with a Canada pedigreed grade name and requires detailed records and samples to ascertain that all of the requirements for seed certification have been satisfied. An AC is expected to perform its activities, maintain records and retain samples in a similar manner as would the CFIA if it were delivering these seed certification services. Similarly, AIs and SIRAs are expected to perform activities, maintain records and retain samples in a similar manner as does the CFIA when it assesses imported seed for conformity with the minimum seed import requirements for Canada.

When seed is imported by a non-AI, the CFIA is responsible for import conformity assessment. This is accomplished through review of all mandatory documents (signed import declaration, seed analysis certificate) and occasional sampling and testing of imported seed lots. Imported seed must remain separate and intact in the original packages until a notice of import conformity has been issued by the Agency. Import conformity assessment normally occurs after seed has been imported but it can also be done prior to the seed being imported if all of the necessary documentation is provided to the Agency ahead of time.

Similarly SIRAs can also assess seed import documentation prior to the actual importation and thereby "pre-clear" seed. Pre-cleared seed has already been determined to have met Canadian import requirements and does not, therefore, need to be kept separate and intact in the original packages. If such seed moves directly upon import to a location that is not an AI, it can be immediately planted, re-packaged or re-sold provided all requirements of the Seeds Regulations have been satisfied. By allowing this to occur under the auspices of the AI Program, the CFIA is assured that a responsible party is following approved procedures and generating documentation that allows for complete traceability of the import within a documented quality management system.

Requirements

An AI may import seed directly to another location provided that the AI has a documented quality management system approved by the Canadian Seed Institute that addresses all of the requirements of the Seeds Regulations. This includes the correct labelling of seed where a sale is deemed to have occurred.

In the case of pedigreed seed, every package of seed must be labelled with a seed certification tag or label issued by an official seed certifying agency at the time of import. A document issued by the AI with its name and address shall state the Canada pedigreed grade name, determined as required by section 13 of the Seeds Regulations, and be forwarded to the buyer/destination prior to delivery of the seed. This document shall clearly identify the seed lots to which it applies.

In the case of non-pedigreed (common) seed that must be labelled with a grade name at the time of sale, the AI shall issue a document with its name and address, the seed lot designation(s) and the grade of the seed, and shall forward this document to the buyer/destination prior to delivery of the seed. Every package in the seed lot must be marked with a seed lot designation.

A "notice of import conformity" issued by a SIRA shall accompany the importation and a copy shall be forwarded to the local CFIA inspection office closest to the destination of the seed prior to the actual import.

The notice of import conformity must contain the following:

  • Name of the species;
  • Seed lot designation;
  • Quantity;
  • Variety name(s) (if applicable);
  • Name and address of destination;
  • Name and address of exporter;
  • Country where the seed was grown;
  • Intended purpose of seed import; and
  • A declaration by the SIRA stating that the "information provided in this form has been reviewed and I have determined the seed to be in compliance and meeting the minimum import requirements of the Seeds Act and the Seeds Regulations".

An AI may not import seed to a destination other than the registered location of the AI including other RSEs (Registered Seed Establishments), other businesses or other addresses of their company unless the seed has been pre-cleared.

AIs must ensure seed that is imported to a non-AI location has been pre-cleared. Otherwise the shipment is non-compliant and may be detained by the CFIA or lead to cancellation of the AI registration.

Conclusion

An AI may import seed to a non-AI location provided:

  1. the AI has a documented quality management system approved by the CSI that addresses all of the requirements of the Seeds Regulations; and
  2. the seed has been pre-cleared by a SIRA and a "notice of import conformity" accompanies the importation and a copy has been forwarded to the CFIA inspection office closest to the destination of the seed prior to the actual import.
  3. When a seed lot has been pre-cleared by an AI for shipment to a non-AI location and a sale is deemed to have occurred then the seed must be correctly labelled prior to import. This would include proper grading and application of official tags/labels as per requirements of sections 13, 15 to 19, 21, 23 to 31, and 34.
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