Representing the first change in service costs since 1998, a new fee structure for destination inspections in Canada will begin May 16.
The new fee is part of a multi-year evolution of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s Destination Inspection Service to make it more responsive to industry needs, said Stephen Whitney, president and chief executive officer of the Ottawa-based Fruit and Vegetable Dispute Resolution Corp.
“It has been a long time coming,” Whitney said.
The current fees assessed by the CFIA for destination inspections for fruits and vegetables are $1.37 per 100 kilogram of produce inspected, subject to a minimum fee of $68, according to a Feb. 16 notice in the Canada Gazette. The new fee on May 16 will be $99 per hour of service, which Whitney said could be adjusted over three years until full cost recovery levels are achieved.Whitney said it is difficult to compare the old fee structure with the new fee. Some straight load destination inspections of fruit and vegetable commodities may be less expensive with the new hourly fee, while mixed load inspections may be more expensive, he said.
Whitney said a properly functioning Destination Inspection Service is critical to effective operations of the DRC, where buyers and sellers of produce often depend on an impartial government inspection to assess arrival condition of fresh produce. Raising the bar for service was necessary because traders were not receiving timely inspections when they were needed.
“What we ended up doing essentially is recreating a service based on a model that largely reflects the USDA’s inspection service,” Whitney said. “We’ve streamlined the operations,” he said.
The implementation of the new fee structure in mid-May will be preceded by a series of informational meetings from March 22 to April 6 in Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal, according to a news release from the DRC.
Whitney said the CFIA has worked with the industry since 2002 to ensure the Destination Inspection Service better meets the needs of industry.
The new business model for the service, unveiled in 2006, relies on dedicated staff for destination inspections, service on weekends, adoption of new service standards and revised fees based on hourly rates intended to provide financial sustainability for the service.
“The good news is that we have got the service going and it has been able to in most cases provide a much more timely service,” he said. Generally speaking, more than 90% of Canadian receivers have been able to receive a destination inspection within 24 hours of a request to the Destination Inspection Service, Whitney said.
The new model and implementation plan is endorsed by the Canadian Horticultural Council, the Canadian Produce Marketing Association and the Board of Directors of the Dispute Resolution Corporation, according to a news release from the DRC.