Agriculture & Food
MLT Aikins has served as a trusted legal adviser to a wide variety of food and agriculture clients since the establishment of the firm. From its substantial work in the consolidation of the grain handling sector, the rise of alternative proteins, and the increasing sophistication of agtech, MLT Aikins has developed extensive experience, in-depth technical knowledge and a unique understanding of the emerging issues, challenges and opportunities in the fields of food, agriculture and life sciences.
Listed among Chambers Canada’s top five ranked firms in agribusiness in Canada, MLT Aikins provides legal advice tailored to the business and practical considerations of the agriculture and food industry. We understand the business landscape, the local and regional geography as well as the cross-jurisdictional framework, and we have a nuanced understanding of the regulatory and legal issues affecting Canada’s dynamic food and agribusiness sector.
The Canadian agrifood chain is supported by a broad-reaching network of agribusinesses. These include co-operatives, crop input companies, feed companies, equipment manufacturers and dealers, industry trade organizations, marketing boards, insurers, food processors, co-packers, retailers and distributors. We have extensive experience advising these businesses on contractual and regulatory matters, intellectual property protection and management, litigation and compliance. We have worked with processors, marketing boards and representative industry groups in interpreting legislation and helping organizations stay up-to-date with required changes in accordance with legislative requirements.
Regulatory and Compliance
We have helped our clients meet regulatory and licensing requirements, and worked with regulators to facilitate ongoing compliance. Our tax group is well-equipped to assist with tax related issues impacting food and agribusiness clients, including the unique issues non-profit organizations face. We assist a wide variety of organization types with respect to their corporate organization and governance. We help agribusinesses with management of licensing, certification and variety registration.
We have advised on matters regarding compliance with governmental regulations and guidelines, such as those administered by the PMRA, AAFC, CFIA and Health Canada. We have experience putting together a broad range of agreements including:
- research and development agreements; and material transfer agreements;
- testing, trial and evaluation agreements;
- research funding; grant and collaboration arrangements; and contribution agreements
We have extensive experience advising on legal issues related to the evolving agricultural technology sector.
As emerging technologies shape the future of agricultural production, we are working to help clients evolve and transform their products and services while complying with requirements of provincial and federal regulatory bodies. We are dedicated to promoting the discussion of the role of innovation and technology in agriculture to help businesses advance their initiatives to discover, develop, register and bring new products to market. We help agtech developers navigate information systems and data protection requirements, drafting privacy policies, data sharing and transfer agreements, and other contracts and collaborations arising from technology advancements. We are invested in staying up-to-date regarding the specific nuances of the agtech sector, while working alongside clients to build great agribusinesses that help solve challenges and inefficiencies within the industry.
We have been active in securing legislative change to promote growth and development in the agrifood value chain. We have drafted and negotiated an extensive range of contracts concerning farming/production technology, automation, AI, renewable energy and land management systems. Whether you are an agtech developer with an innovative technology, a startup, or an established business, we can help you to achieve your commercial goals.
Intellectual Property and Data Protection
We have extensive experience with intellectual property protection, management and commercialization. Our team includes several patent and trademark agents skilled in advising regarding intellectual property protection and disputes. We also provide intellectual property support including with respect to licensing, strategy and policy advice. We have experience with supporting a vast array of areas of innovation – from mechanical advancements, to novel seed and chemical technologies, to the development of semi-autonomous farm machinery.
We can help you create effective development and commercialization strategies, and intellectual property management policies, that help you derive value from the technology you develop. Our work in supporting organizations with the management, protection and enforcement of intellectual property and proprietary rights in novel and innovative agricultural and food technologies has helped many organization in the food and agriculture industry advance new and transformative innovation.
MLT Aikins has advised an expansive variety of entities in the food and agriculture industry, including private and public companies, research organizations, industry associations, and member-owned organizations. We have established various forms of agribusiness entities, including corporations, limited partnerships, co-operatives, non-profit organizations and foundations. We have been involved in many novel approaches, including establishing Canada’s first grain condominium and Canada’s first large scale producer car loading facility. This varied experience allows us to understand the big-picture issues present in the industry, the interplay between its various types of organizations, and the challenges unique to each.
We have advised organizations at every stage in the agrifood value chain – from organizations seeking or granting funding (whether public or private in source) to aid innovation and growth, to organizations collaborating in the research and development of technologies through the application of that funding, to organizations seeking to commercialize and exploit the results of that research and development. We have experience helping organizations raise capital for growth and expansion, securing strategic alliances and structuring joint venture arrangements.
Working with agricultural product marketing boards and producer groups
Our lawyers have worked closely with co-operatives, grain companies, chemical companies, fertilizer manufacturers and distributors, ag-biotech companies, plant breeders and research organizations, feedlots, livestock operations, ethanol plants, food processing facilities and other agribusiness organizations to devise innovative business structures, secure funding and financing, structure unique collaborative arrangements, assist with project procurement and construction, and address regulatory and taxation issues.
- Lead External Counsel to a Canadian innovation supercluster, providing advice regarding research consortium structure, research funding agreements, data management, member agreements, and policy direction.
- Counsel to several agri-science clusters, research grant organizations and non-profit organizations investing in agricultural research for the benefit of Canadian producers.
- Lead counsel to Enns Brothers Ltd. including in its acquisition of Countryside Equipment, Reimer Farm Supplies and DB Murray Equipment.
- Canadian counsel to a New Zealand sheep operation on its expansion into Canada, including acquisitions of existing Canadian sheep farms and a processing facility.
- Counsel to Plant Protein Alliance of Alberta Ltd. in setting up the corporation as a not-for-profit entity, and advising on corporate governance, annual meetings and conflict of interest for insiders.
- Canadian counsel to an Australian headquartered grain company on its expansion into Canada and the construction of four inland grain terminals in western Canada.
- Canadian counsel to a U.S. headquartered agribusiness on its acquisition of a Canadian retail fertilizer business and related assets for approximately $20 million (2014).
- Counsel to producer-owned inland grain terminals in Western Canada for many years on matters including mergers and acquisitions, corporate/commercial, securities, financing and regulatory affairs, and many innovative arrangements such as grain condominiums.
- Counsel to producer of horticultural products in a product liability suit and an action to enforce rights under a surface lease for the cultivation and harvesting of peat moss.
- Counsel to numerous ag-biotech and crop input businesses regarding a wide range of matters, including intellectual property protection of proprietary seed and chemical products, regulatory matters, licensing and technology commercialization, retailing/distribution issues, producer/grower contracts, seed production and manufacturing agreements, warehousing and transportation agreements, and asset purchases, sales and divestitures.
- Hoffman et al. v. Monsanto Canada Inc. and Bayer CropScience Inc., 2007 SKCA 47. Successfully opposing certification of a class action arising from the introduction of genetically modified canola.
- Counsel on Saskferco Products LLC $1.6 billion sale to Yara International ASA (named the 2008 Canadian Inbound Acquisition of the Year by Lexpert Magazine).
- Lead Counsel to Canadian Wheat Board for $500 million Commercialization and sale of Canadian Wheat Board to Bunge Canada and SALIC Canada Limited.
- Lead Counsel to Hemp Oil Canada Inc. for $40 million sale to Manitoba Harvest.
- Counsel to United Grain Growers Limited (now Viterra Inc.) regarding its privatization and initial public offering.
- Counsel to HyLife Group Holdings Ltd. regarding its sale of an equity stake to Japanese conglomerate ITOCHU Corporation.
- Counsel to Fresh Hemp Foods Ltd. regarding its sale to Compass Diversified Holdings (through its subsidiary, Compass Group Diversified Holdings LLC).