Between 1995 and 1999, NAFTA provided the table to discuss a unified set of rules and regulations as well as a private dispute resolution mechanism for the fresh fruits and vegetables sector. In 2000 the DRC was born from a vision shared by produce industry leaders and government in Canada, the United States and Mexico that included:
While a dispute resolution system existed in the US under the PACA, the pre-NAFTA regulatory system that prevailed in Canada, through the Canada Agricultural Products Act (CAP Act), proved to be ineffective in resolving most disputes and included no provision to address payment in situations of insolvency. Mexico did not have licencing requirements and government quality destination inspections like the ones existing in the US and Canada.
When DRC opened for business, members were located primarily in NAFTA countries until a membership option was opened for those trading partners dealing with NAFTA countries. Fast forward nearly twenty years and today members are found in 17 countries with South America and Europe mainly representing those countries. For Canadians a DRC membership is more than good business, it is the law. For those outside of Canada, DRC membership offers enhanced financial protection, education and a proven alternative dispute resolution mechanism that works. As DRC looks to the future, efforts to grow membership beyond continental North America will continue to expand by participating in trade shows and other initiatives outside of North America.
NAFTA provided the foundation for DRC and now we have a global presence where NAFTA no longer limits DRC’s outreach. Members represent the entire supply chain, with buyers accounting for 58%, suppliers 32% and all other segments representing the remaining 10%.