Proposed federal grain regulations could hamper the flow of grain across the Canada – U.S. border, argues a new report released earlier this month.

The Jan. 9 report, put out by the Canada-U.S. Grain and Seed Trade Task Group, argues that the proposed directive, D-12-05, “could affect bulk international and local markets near the border.” Nearly 40,000 shipments could be affected, the report adds.

The proposed regulations are being put forward by theCanadian Food InspectionAgency (CFIA)’s plant section. D-12-05 was supposed to take effect December 12, 2012. CFIA has delayed the directive indefinitely. There is no word when the new proposed regulations will take effect.

If approved, bulk commodity shipments – like grain, corn, soybeans, rice, and peanuts – coming from the United States would be required to carry import permits or have phytosanitary certificates issued by U.S. authorities.

Phytosanitary certificates are formal documents issued by an exporting country’s agriculture authorities verifying that a shipment has been inspected and is free of harmful pests and plant diseases.

D-12-05, the CFIA has said, is designed to keep invasive weed species out of Canada. ”Weed seeds, crop residues, soil and other refuse are usually present in grain imports, and this is why grain imports are recognized as a high-risk pathway for pest entry to Canada,” the agency said in an option paper release October 24, 2013.

That’s fine, says Canada Grains Council President Richard Phillips, as long as the phytosanitary regulations don’t negatively impact the flow of grain.

“We want to keep the borders open as much as possible and if we put up barriers, then the Americans are going to to put up barriers and…that’s going to cost us more than it’s going to cost them.”

Based on the Canada-U.S. grains report, though, Phillips said that’s unlikely to happen. “Some weeds are really, really virulent…so, I can understand why we have to be careful with these things, but sometimes…it’s how you manage the risk rather than just issuing an ‘everything must be inspected before it comes’ order.”

“That’s just not practical,” Phillips added.

Grain groups aren’t the only ones concerned about the proposed regulations. The Animal Nutrition Association of Canada wants corn removed from the D-12-05 list completely. In a Nov. 28 letter to the CFIA, the group said new regulations are costly.

“The administrative and financial burdens to comply with any of the options presented by CFIA for corn, especially for these numerous but relatively small consignments, are not justified by the low level of risk,” the Association’s Executive Director Graham Cooper wrote.

The North American Export Grain Association, based in Washington, D.C. has also called for revisions to D-12-05. Meanwhile, the Canadian Truckers Alliance, the national group for truck drivers, has asked for input from its members and provincial counterparts.

Most U.S. grain shipments – like canola, pulses (lentils, peas etc) and peanuts – destined for Canada are moved by truck. Tighter regulations by CFIA, like D-12-05, are likely to result in longer wait times at the border for truck drivers, industry officials argue.

Discussions between CFIA and industry are ongoing.