In a move that should simplify trade, Canada is implementing a pilot program that removes certification requirements for U.S. onion imports.

In accordance with the Beyond the Border Action Plan, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency plans to conduct an “onion pilot” aimed at removing certification requirements (grade verification) for U.S. onions.

The revised Canadian import requirements will be in effect Jan. 20 to April 30, according to a news release from the CFIA. The agency did not say if the pilot could become permanent.

During the pilot period, inspection by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and certification by its northern counterpart will not be required for U.S. onions, according to the CFIA.

However, onions will still be required to meet minimum grades and labelling and packaging requirements listed in Canada’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations, according to the release.

The removal of certification requirements should assist onion exports to Canada,said Bob Komoto, general manager of Ontario Produce Co., Ontario, Ore.

“It would certainly simplify things,” Komoto said.

Currently, shippers must obtain an inspection certificate that is dated within two days of the product’s arrival at the Canadian border.

While onions are inspected every day as they are packed, some types and sizes of onions can be idle for a few days before a mixed load is ready for export, he said.

For example, a shipper with onions that have bene packed for four or five days — not uncommon for some types and sizes such as red onions or colossal yellows — must get those onions reinspected before shipment to qualify for the Canadian certificate.

“You are constantly reinspecting, and if your truck doesn’t show (on time) you might have to get them reinspected again,” he said. “It is an expense because you are paying for an inspector to go through it every time.”

Though the National Onion Association wasn’t asked to give input on the issue, Wayne Mininger, executive vice president of the Greeley, Colo.-based National Onion Association said he thinks that simplification of trade between the U.S. and Canada is a positive.

Jane Proctor, vice president for policy and issue management with the Ottawa-based Canadian Produce Marketing Association, said that CPMA did meet with

CFIA as they prepared to respond to their obligations under the Beyond the Border agreement.

“Although CPMA had no direct input on the agreement between the Canadian and U.S. governments, we continue to work with CFIA to explore potential reciprocity on the particulars of the pilot,” Proctor said in an e-mail statement.