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Updates for COTA Members Re: COVID-19 from Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada/Canadian Food Inspection Agency  

The Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA), as the national voice of Canada’s organic sector, is continuing to participate in regular conference calls being hosted by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Our objective is to keep information flowing between industry and government – to provide critical information to assist you all in guiding your businesses during COVID-19 measures being in place. 

Updates from the Thursday, March 26th call. 

Industry Stakeholder Call (open to all). Today’s call was the second in a series of “twice-per-week" conversations that AAFC has initiated for any stakeholder interested in taking part. These calls are Tuesdays and Thursdays at 12:00 (noon) Eastern time. 

English Line:1-877-413-4814 or locally 613-960-7519 (passcode: 2471610 #) 

En français: 1-877-413-4815 ou en region 613-960-7526 (passcode: 3385231 #) 

If you are interested in taking part in these calls, feel free to dial in. There is simultaneous translation on the call, and thus there are separate lines depending on if you wish to listen to the conversations in English or French. Typically the format has been to have a number of presentations by officials on specific topics and then an opportunity to ask questions from the phone.

Agriculture and Agri-Food are Essential Industries. It was reiterated again today that the Prime Minister has already highlighted that food and agriculture workers are essential workers to keeping Canadians fed and healthy.  This has been further emphasized by most provincial Premiers, agreeing that the provinces were also considering food and agriculture workers to be essential.  While this is ultimately a provincial decision to make, the Minister of Public Safety is expected to publish some federal guidelines to assist in bringing consistency to the approaches the provinces are taking. 

Border Crossing Challenges. AAFC is aware of challenges and delays at the Canada/US border, and is aware of the impact these delays might have on the transport of goods - especially those goods that are perishable or where supply chains rely on expedited deliveries. Watch for an announcement in the coming days of a dedicated 24-hour telephone service for any importers or exporters who are having troubles with shipments getting across the Canada/US border, or where drivers are having difficulties crossing the border with their loads.   

Global shutdowns (India). The government of Canada is monitoring the measures being taken around the world which may impact our imports or our exports. An example is the recent lock-down brought into place in India. The Government of India has implemented a mandatory 21 day lock-down of all non-essential movement/travel. This will certainly impact the ability to get shipments into and out of India. Exporters should prepare for delays as India, as part of their lock-down may chose to impose  mandatory 14-day quarantines for all ships entering port.  

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact COTA’s Manager of Policy and Research, Brian Lemon at blemon@canada-organic.ca or call 613-482-1717 ext. 206. 

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