| Agriculture and Food Law Summary - by Prof. Don Buckingham, Faculty of Law,
University of Ottawa.
Agriculture and food law in Canada covers a vast array of legal issues
that impacts every Canadian. It includes laws enacted at both the federal
and the provincial levels and affects every stage of agriculture and food
production from animal breeding and seed development right through to the
labelling of processed food in supermarkets.
Agriculture law, as opposed to food law, usually refers to the public and
private aspects of legal regulation that affect the production and
marketing of agricultural products. Farm property law, animal pedigree and
animal health laws, and laws affecting the development and sale of
agricultural inputs such as fertilizers, crop protection products and farm
implements fall squarely within the notion of agricultural law.
governing the formation and execution of contracts for the sale of farm
products, laws regulating the right to produce and market agricultural
produce and the laws establishing marketing boards, standards and grades
affect how farmers, marketers and processors conduct their affairs.
Finally agricultural law also touches other aspects of the financing of
agricultural operations. Special provisions exist with general federal and
provincial laws that have specific application to agricultural operations,
such as exist in the Income Tax Act, the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act,
the Bank Act and countless other federal and provincial laws. Finally,
several laws exist that apply only to agriculture, such as those that
entitle agricultural producers to financial compensation as well as laws
that impose special obligations on agricultural operations for
environmental or commercial reasons.
Food law, on the other hand, focuses on more than just agricultural
producers. Other groups like consumers, retailers, processors, even
packagers and labellers of food products are affected by Canadian food
law. The Food and Drugs Act, the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act, the
Meat Inspection Act and the Canada Agricultural Products Act, to name but
a few, provide a rich regulatory tapestry of standards and inspection
rules that protect consumers from false, misleading and dangerous food.
Common law tort liability for injury caused by defective food products can
also be included as part of the law that sets out the food law rules in
A basic text setting out food and agriculture law in Canada is Fuller and
Buckingham, Agriculture Law in Canada (Toronto: Butterworth, 1999).
This summary was provided by Prof. Don Buckingham, Faculty of Law,
University of Ottawa; Senior Legal Consultant, Agriculture and Agri-Food