2000 Legislative Session: 4th Session, 36th Parliament
FIRST READING


The following electronic version is for informational purposes only.
The printed version remains the official version.


HONOURABLE CORKY EVANS
MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, FOOD AND FISHERIES AND
MINISTER RESPONSIBLE FOR RURAL DEVELOPMENT

BILL 26 2000

AGRI-FOOD CHOICE AND QUALITY ACT

Contents

Section

1 Definitions

Part 1 -- Agri-Food Quality Programs
2 Agri-food quality programs
3 Use of certain words, names, phrases, symbols, labels, marks and packaging

Part 2 -- Agri-Food Quality Program Inspections
4 Appointment of inspectors
5 Inspections
6 Confidential information

Part 3 -- General
7 Section 5 of the Offence Act does not apply
8 Offences and penalties
9 Documentary and certificate evidence
10 Forms
11 Power to make regulations
12 Transitional
13 Repeal


HER MAJESTY, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of British Columbia, enacts as follows:

Definitions

1 In this Act:

"administrator" means a person or class of persons appointed, or a board established, under section 11 (2) (o) to administer an agri-food quality program;

"agri-food product" means

(a) food, or

(b) other agricultural products;

"agri-food quality program" means a program established under section 2;

"food" means food or drink for human consumption, and includes

(a) any substance that is manufactured, sold or represented for use as food or drink for human consumption, and

(b) an ingredient that is mixed, or intended to be mixed, with food or drink for human consumption.


Part 1 Agri-Food Quality Programs

Agri-food quality programs

2 The Lieutenant Governor in Council may establish programs to enable persons of a prescribed class of persons engaged in farming, harvesting, producing, processing, manufacturing, preparing, packaging, handling or selling practices related to an agri-food product, at their option,

(a) to have their agri-food product or their practices certified as meeting prescribed quality or prescribed practice standards and to receive a certificate as evidence that those standards have been met, and

(b) if they hold a certificate, to describe, identify, label, advertise or market the agri-food product as meeting prescribed quality standards or as having been farmed, harvested, produced, processed, manufactured, prepared, packaged, handled or sold in accordance with the prescribed practice standards.

Use of certain words, names, phrases, symbols, labels, marks and packaging

3 (1) A person who holds a certificate may use a prescribed word, name, phrase, symbol, label, mark or form of packaging, in accordance with the regulations and any conditions attached to the certificate, to describe, identify, label, advertise or market the person's agri-food product.

(2) A person who farms, harvests, produces, processes, manufactures, prepares, packages or handles an agri-food product must not

(a) use a prescribed word, name, phrase, symbol, label, mark or form of packaging to describe, identify, label, advertise or market the agri-food product,

(b) indicate that the agri-food product or the person's practice meets quality or practice standards prescribed under this Act, or

(c) indicate that the person holds a certificate under this Act

unless

(d) the person holds the appropriate and subsisting certificate, and

(e) the applicable prescribed quality or prescribed practice standards have been met and complied with.

(3) A person who sells or offers for sale an agri-food product must not

(a) use a prescribed word, name, phrase, symbol, label, mark or form of packaging to describe, identify, label, advertise or market the agri-food product, or

(b) represent or hold out that agri-food product as meeting prescribed quality standards or as having been farmed, harvested, produced, processed, manufactured, prepared, packaged, handled or sold in accordance with the prescribed practice standards

unless

(c) the person holds the appropriate and subsisting certificate,

(d) the farmer, harvester, producer, processor, manufacturer, preparer, packager or handler, as the case may be, holds a subsisting certificate, and

(e) the prescribed practice standards applicable to sellers have been met and complied with.


Part 2 Agri-Food Quality Program Inspections

Appointment of inspectors

4 (1) The minister may appoint persons, or persons within a class, to be inspectors.

(2) The minister, in an appointment under subsection (1), may

(a) limit the powers and functions that an inspector may exercise under this Act and the regulations, and

(b) make the appointment subject to terms and conditions.

Inspections

5 A person who holds a certificate must, at any reasonable time,

(a) allow an inspector appointed under section 4 or an auditor appointed under section 11 (2) (s) to inspect all parts of the person's operation, to take samples of an agri-food product and to test or cause to be tested any samples, and

(b) on an inspector's or auditor's request, make available for inspection all records required to be maintained under the regulations.

Confidential information

6 A person who obtains any information or record in the course of exercising the person's duties and powers under this Act or the regulations must not disclose that information or record other than for the purposes of exercising those duties and powers, for the purposes of a prosecution or if required by law.


Part 3 General

Section 5 of the Offence Act does not apply

7 Section 5 of the Offence Act does not apply to this Act or the regulations.

Offences and penalties

8 (1) A person who contravenes section 3 (2) or (3) or 5 or subsection (2) of this section commits an offence.

(2) When applying for a certificate under this Act or when requested, ordered or directed by an inspector or auditor, a person must not supply false or misleading information.

(3) A person does not commit an offence under subsection (2) if, at the time the information was supplied, the person did not know that it was false or misleading and, with the exercise of reasonable diligence, could not have known that it was false or misleading.

(4) If a corporation commits an offence under subsection (1), an employee, officer, director or agent of the corporation who authorizes, permits or acquiesces in the commission of the offence also commits an offence.

(5) Subsection (4) applies whether or not the corporation is prosecuted for the offence.

(6) An individual who commits an offence under this Act is liable to a fine of not more than $5 000 or to imprisonment for not more than 6 months, or to both.

(7) A corporation that commits an offence under this Act is liable to a fine of not more than $20 000.

(8) An individual under subsection (6) or a corporation under subsection (7) is liable to the penalty referred to in the applicable provision for each day or part of a day on which the offence occurs or continues.

(9) When sentencing a person convicted of an offence under this Act, the court may order the offender to pay compensation or make restitution to the government, an administrator or a person for the actual loss or damage caused by or arising out of the commission of the offence including, without limitation, compensation or restitution for

(a) any costs incurred in connection with any inspection or audit related to investigation of the offence, and

(b) any other costs incurred in relation to investigation of the offence.

(10) An order for compensation or restitution under subsection (9) is in addition to and not in place of any other fine or penalty described in this section.

(11) If an order is made under subsection (9), the government, administrator or person in whose favour the order is made may, by filing the order in a registry of the Supreme Court, enter as a judgment the amount ordered to be paid, and that judgment is enforceable against the offender in the same manner as if it were a judgment against the offender in civil proceedings in that court.

(12) Nothing in this section precludes the government, an administrator or any person from taking any civil action or exercising any right of recovery against a person who commits an offence under this Act or the regulations.

Documentary and certificate evidence

9 (1) A copy of a document granted or issued and certified as a true copy by an inspector, auditor, administrator or person authorized under this Act is, without proof of the certifying person's signature, appointment or authorization,

(a) evidence of the document, and

(b) evidence that the person granting or issuing the document was authorized to do so.

(2) In any prosecution under this Act, a certificate as to the results of an analysis that is signed, or purports to be signed, by an analyst is evidence of the facts stated in the certificate and conclusive evidence of the authority of the person giving or making the certificate, without proof of the person's signature, appointment or authorization.

(3) A person against whom a certificate under subsection (2) is produced may, with leave of the court, require the attendance of the analyst who signed the certificate, for the purpose of cross-examination.

(4) In subsection (2), "analyst" means an analyst designated by the minister for the purpose of conducting analyses or tests under this Act.

Forms

10 The minister may do either or both of the following:

(a) prescribe certificates and forms for use under this Act;

(b) specify certificates and forms for use under this Act.

Power to make regulations

11 (1) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations referred to in section 41 of the Interpretation Act.

(2) Without limiting subsection (1), the Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations as follows:

(a) prescribing quality standards for an agri-food product, including, without limitation, standards respecting colour, size, variety, grade, character, nature, origin, chemical or physical composition or content, treatment, insect, pest or disease status, genetic variations and qualitative traits relating to human or animal health or consumption;

(b) prescribing practice standards for the farming, harvesting, producing, processing, manufacturing, preparing, packaging, handling or selling of an agri-food product;

(c) setting fees

(i) for an application for a certificate, a certificate or an inspection,

(ii) for an analysis or test required by a regulation made under this Act or a condition of a certificate, or

(iii) to be paid by an administrator in an audit under paragraph (s);

(d) respecting analysis and testing related to prescribed standards under paragraph (a) or (b), and the retention by an inspector or other person of samples analyzed or tested;

(e) prescribing classes of persons referred to in section 2;

(f) respecting conditions that may be attached to a certificate;

(g) specifying the term of a certificate under section 2;

(h) respecting the issue, amendment, renewal, suspension or cancellation of a certificate;

(i) prescribing words, names, phrases, symbols, labels, marks or forms of packaging for the purposes of section 3, including prescribing their meaning and their use in describing, identifying, labelling, advertising or marketing an agri-food product;

(j) respecting the listing of ingredients on an agri-food product label or package;

(k) respecting the powers, duties and functions of inspectors;

(l) respecting the frequency and nature of inspections under section 5;

(m) requiring regular reports from a certificate holder and respecting the frequency and manner of those reports;

(n) providing for the making, keeping or delivering of information and records by a farmer, harvester, producer, processor, manufacturer, preparer, packager, handler or seller of an agri-food product and the production of the records at regular intervals or on an inspection;

(o) respecting the appointment of persons or establishment of a board, and empowering them, on conditions or otherwise, to

(i) administer an agri-food quality program, and

(ii) make decisions respecting a certificate, including its issue, amendment, renewal, suspension or cancellation, and the attachment of conditions to a certificate, and to decide appeals from those decisions;

(p) respecting the criteria, practices and procedures to be followed by an administrator;

(q) respecting appeals and providing procedures for those appeals;

(r) providing for the appointment or election, or both, of members of a board established under paragraph (o) and specifying the powers, duties, functions, practices and procedures, including the quorum, of a board;

(s) providing for audits of an agri-food quality program, including the appointment of auditors and specifying their powers, duties, functions, practices and procedures and the frequency and nature of audits, and providing for audit cost recovery from administrators;

(t) defining a word or expression used but not defined in this Act.

(3) In making regulations under this Act, the Lieutenant Governor in Council may do one or more of the following:

(a) make different regulations for different classes of persons, matters, transactions, events or things;

(b) make different regulations for different geographical areas of British Columbia;

(c) delegate a matter to a person;

(d) confer a discretion on a person;

(e) provide for the delegation by a person or board of a power or duty conferred on the person under subsection (2) (o) (i) or (ii) and any matters ancillary to the delegation or the exercise of delegated powers or duties;

(f) prescribe criteria, procedures and conditions respecting a delegation under paragraph (e) or the exercise of a delegated power or duty.

(4) A regulation under this section may incorporate or adopt by reference, and with any changes the Lieutenant Governor in Council considers appropriate, all or part of a code, rule or standard, as amended before or after the making of the regulation and relating to the subject matter of this Act, whether the code, rule or standard is promulgated by any governmental authority or by any association or other body of persons.

(5) If all or part of a code, rule or standard is adopted by regulation, publication in the Gazette of a notice of the adoption referring to the code, standard or rule and stating the extent of its adoption and setting out any variations to which the adoption is subject, is deemed sufficient publication without publishing in the Gazette the text of the code, rule, standard or part adopted.

Transitional

12 (1) The Organic Agricultural Products Certification Regulation, B.C.Reg. 200/93, made under the Food Choice and Disclosure Act, remains in force and is deemed to have been made under this Act until the regulation is repealed or replaced by regulation of the Lieutenant Governor in Council.

(2) A certificate that is issued under the regulation referred to in subsection (1), before this section comes into force, continues with the same effect until the certificate expires.

Repeal

13 The Food Choice and Disclosure Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 152, is repealed.

 
Explanatory Note

This Bill allows persons in the agri-food industry to voluntarily participate in agri-food quality programs sanctioned by the government of British Columbia. The programs

To acknowledge industry initiative and facilitate the development of national or inter-jurisdictional standards, quality and practice standards may be adopted from those established within industry or by other governmental bodies.


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