Business & Policy

For the most part, European farmers view the liberalization of agricultural markets positively. Many felt that farmers were relying too heavily on subsidies, a dependence that negatively impacted markets. In terms of trade, the use of subsidies also disadvantaged some countries – particularly those in developing nations – and cost taxpayers dearly each year. In recent years, policy reform and the reduction of trade barriers have addressed these issues; now new problems have surfaced.
When a laying hen is finished laying she becomes “spent fowl,” with her meat used for deli purposes or tenderized and flavoured for soup or TV dinners. Much of this spent fowl is imported from the United States under no tariff restrictions, fulfilling a Canadian demand that does not displace broiler meat.
While making the rounds at ag industry events this winter, I noticed one topic was sure to draw a crowd every time. It seems producers, suppliers and other industry stakeholders are eager to soak up information on markets and international trade – and with good reason.
Jan. 25, 2017-  An Independent Agri-Food Policy Note released today by Agri-Food Economic Systems explores the expanding trade policy agenda now facing Canadian agri-food as the trade agenda of the Trump Administration and other factors become evident.“Not that long ago we thought the major sources of uncertainty dogging Canadian agri-food trade had been resolved”, says Al Mussell, Agri-Food Economic Systems research lead and co-author of the policy note. “That is quickly being proved wrong.  We had not expected US trade policy to turn protectionist, and in the interim a number of other major trade issues have arisen”.The policy note takes stock of the range of developments in US trade policy under the new Trump Administration, the implications and alternatives for Canadian agri-food, and the consequent demands on trade and domestic agricultural policy. It highlights both bilateral shifts and multilateral issues that will reshape domestic and trade policy and require Canadian attention.      “We face a problem of breadth and depth”, says Douglas Hedley, Agri-Food Economic Systems associate and co-author of the policy note. “The sheer number of prospective trade complaints and defensive actions coming from the US could swamp our capacity to effectively analyze and mount a successful defense; this may be a strategy of the new US administration”.  Mussell says, “a retrenchment of the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, potential renegotiation of NAFTA, a prospective US border tax, and US trade complaints raised against Canada will drive Canada to consider alternative markets.  This puts more pressure on CETA and prospective new trade agreements with Japan, China, and perhaps others to provide markets for our agri-food products.  It will also require alignment between domestic agricultural policy and this new trade environment”.“At the same time, a WTO Ministerial meeting is scheduled for later this year, in which domestic support for agriculture is likely to be a key element," Hedley adds.  Canada will be pressed to advance its agenda for reduced agricultural support globally and to deal with its own sensitivities.  This will further draw upon our trade policy capacity”.       The Independent Agri-Food Policy Note can be accessed at www.agrifoodecon.ca.
August 17, 2016 - The Alltech Corporate Career Development Program is seeking to recruit 12 recent bachelor’s and master’s degree graduates who wish to develop skills in science, veterinary science, biotechnology, information technology, marketing and finance.  Recent graduates are encourage to apply during the window of Aug. 15–Sept. 30 via the Alltech Corporate Career Development Program website. The program will commence in February for the 2017 group. Alltech aims to develop future leaders within the agriculture industry and values long-term talent development through the Alltech Corporate Career Development Program, which started in 2012. This program was designed specifically by Dr. Aoife Lyons, Director of Educational Engagement at Alltech. Education, development and engagement are fundamental to the culture of Alltech, now one of the top five animal health companies in the world. “This is a life-changing opportunity for recent graduates to interact with colleagues from other countries, develop both their technical and interpersonal skills, and share innovative ideas,” said Dr. Lyons. “Previous Career Development Program members have worked in a variety of areas, including internal auditing for Latin America and marketing and event promotion for ONE: The Alltech Ideas Conference, an annual symposium with more than 3,000 global attendees,” she continued. “We strive to match successful applicants’ interests with Alltech’s global needs.” The 12-month, salaried, full-time mentorship program will begin with an intensive three-month training period at Alltech’s global headquarters in Nicholasville, Kentucky, USA, where graduates will study topics including sustainable energy, communications, marketing and international business. Afterward, they will continue training and development while simultaneously managing key company projects in one of the company’s global offices, guided and mentored by senior management. Tanja Marincich of Santiago, Chile, was accepted to the program this year and is now finishing her training and development with the European finance team at Alltech’s European Bioscience Centre in Ireland. “The program has not only given me immediate insight into the inner workings of a multinational business, but it has given me the opportunity to embrace the work and values of the Alltech family,” said Marincich. “Five months ago, I was welcomed into a culturally diverse, open-minded group that has allowed me to develop both hard and soft skills. It is more than a teamwork environment; Alltech is a place where everyone’s ideas are heard, and the program gave me a chance to be a part of it.” Applicants should be strong team players with excellent communications skills, including fluency in English, with another language as an added advantage. Joining this global team opens the door to a stimulating, fast-paced and rewarding future. 
July 12, 2016 - The National Chicken Council (NCC) strongly supports efforts to create a more reasonable and sustainable approach to the nation's biofuel fuel policy, as the compelled diversion of corn from feed to fuel continues to exact a heavy toll on U.S. chicken producers, and American consumers at the pump and the plate. "NCC believes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is properly proposing to use its authority under the Clean Air Act to reduce ethanol blending requirements below the statutory levels," said NCC President Mike Brown in comments submitted to the agency in response to their proposed renewable fuels volume requirements.  "However, NCC believes the volumes proposed for 2017 are overly aggressive and based on faulty assumptions about the fuel market and thus should be further reduced to limit the disruptions to the corn market and nation's feed supply." The EPA on May 18 proposed volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that are lower than statutory targets for cellulosic biofuel, advanced biofuel and total renewable fuel, however they are increases from 2016 requirements. The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to set renewable fuel percentage standards each year, which the agency has consistently failed to meet since the RFS was implemented.  Brown wrote to EPA Administrator McCarthy that the use of corn for ethanol has created an uneven playing field for chicken producers. "In short, EPA's proposal to set the 2017 implied conventional ethanol mandate above the blend wall reignites the food versus fuel inequity inherent in the structure of the RFS." (As EPA notes, the e10 blend wall, "represents the volume of ethanol that can be consumed domestically if all gasoline contains 10 percent ethanol" and "marks the transition from relatively straightforward and easily achievable increases in ethanol consumption as e10 to those increases in ethanol consumption as e15 and e85 that are more challenging to achieve.") The impact of the food versus fuel pressure on feedstock has been severe.  Since the RFS was enacted, chicken producers alone have faced $53 billion in higher actual feed costs due to the RFS.  During the RFS era, at least a dozen chicken companies have ceased operations – filing for bankruptcy or having been acquired by another company. "Given the unpredictable weather right now throughout the Corn Belt and the volatility in the corn market this past week, it is obvious that chicken producers are again only one supply shock, flood or drought away from high volatile corn prices as in 2009 and 2012," Brown continued. "Where chicken producers have to adjust production and limit flocks due to corn prices, the RFS protects ethanol producers from having to make the same type of adjustments." Additionally, Brown pointed out that the rapid rise in ethanol exports in 2014 and 2015 is indeed a spillover effect that applies further pressure on the corn and feed market beyond Congressional intent under the RFS and is an urgent emerging resource constraint.  For the four years of 2013 through 2016, ethanol exports will likely consume nearly 1.2 billion bushels of corn in addition to the corn consumed by domestic ethanol. Congress, through Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, set the 15 billion gallon cap on corn ethanol under the RFS to prevent ethanol production from diverting too great a volume of corn from feed, food, and seed use to energy.  At the time Congress set this cap, ethanol exports were not envisioned. While increased exports of ethanol put upward pressure on corn prices, they do nothing to improve domestic energy independence as is the stated goal of the EISA legislation.
March 27, 2017, Churchbridge, Sask – Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers’ (OYF) program is once again offering two $1,000 scholarships to Canadian agriculture students. Applications for the 2017 awards will be accepted until June 30, 2017. The OYF Memorial Scholarship will be awarded to one individual entering post-secondary education from high school, and one individual who has already completed at least one year of post-secondary study. Applicants must be pursuing a diploma or degree in agriculture. The late Martin Streef, OYF alumnus, established this scholarship program to help future generations of Canadians pursue their passion for agriculture. Streef was the 1997 winner of both Ontario’s and Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers and president of Streef Produce Ltd, a family-run fresh fruit and vegetable business in Woodstock, Ontario. Scholarship application forms are available here. Celebrating 37 years, Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers’ program is an annual competition to recognize farmers that exemplify excellence in their profession and promote the tremendous contribution of agriculture. Open to participants 18 to 39 years of age, making the majority of income from on-farm sources, participants are selected from seven regions across Canada, with two national winners chosen each year. The program is sponsored nationally by CIBC, John Deere, Bayer, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through Growing Forward 2, a federal, provincial and territorial initiative. The national media sponsor is Annex Business Media, and the program is supported nationally by AdFarm, BDO and Farm Management Canada.
Canadian poultry processors need a consistent supply of dependable, high-quality chicken to supply to their distributors and retailers. In order to achieve this, many processors have contracts with multiple farmers. This begs the question: Can anything be done to ensure the quality  of their supplied product?
Jan. 27, 2017 - Canada's 150th anniversary is an excellent opportunity to celebrate the historical role of farmers in growing our nation. The Canada's Farmers Grow Communities program, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund, provides yet another opportunity for Canadian farmers to strengthen their communities by nominating their favourite local charities to win grants of $2,500.Over the first five years of the program, more than 300 rural charities have received almost $1 million thanks to farmers. The fascinating stories of the farmers, the charities and their connections to the community paint a colourful portrait of rural Canada which will now be shared on the Canada's Farmers Grow Communities blog."Farmers are often unsung heroes in Canadian history," says Kelly Funke, public affairs manager for Monsanto Canada. "But farmers deserve credit for their contributions. That's why we created this program, and why we've now added a blog to our website to further highlight the stories behind the farmer heroes and their chosen charities."The list of charities can include almost any non-profit organization based in rural Canada. Winners have included 4H clubs; rural daycares; libraries; volunteer fire departments; hospitals; schools; ag societies; senior centres; and other community facilities.Farmers who are considering an application are encouraged to visit the Canada's Farmers blog at http://canadasfarmers.ca/blog/ for inspiration and to think about their own local charities or non-profit organizations. It takes just five minutes to apply and be entered into the random draw.Once again in 2017, two $2,500 grants will be awarded in each of 33 different territories across the grain growing regions of northeastern B.C. (Peace River district), Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and the Maritime provinces. Applications are open now through September 30, 2017. And anyone can suggest a charity for a farmer to discover! Simply visit www.CanadasFarmers.ca where complete contest rules and an online application form are available. Winners will be selected by random draw on or about Nov. 1, 2017 and notified by Nov. 15, 2017.
Jan. 24, 2017 - The single biggest labour challenge for the dairy, poultry and egg commodities will be finding skilled and experienced farm managers, including owner-operators. For these commodities, management and ownership jobs account for almost two-thirds of the current workforce, and between now and 2025, they will account for the majority of the jobs going unfilled due to a lack of domestic workers. The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) has completed a three-year study and released the Dairy: Labour Market Forecast to 2025 and Poultry and Egg: Labour Market Forecast to 2025. These studies examine two of Canada’s most significant agricultural industries, which together account for 55,500 jobs, or 15 per cent of the total agricultural workforce. Through consolidation, automation and other efficiencies, the dairy-cattle industry has shed more than a third of its workers since 2009, employing 39,900 as of 2014. However, despite this reduction in the size of the workforce, an additional 3,400 jobs went unfilled due to a lack of available domestic workers. This labour shortfall cost an estimated $71 million in lost sales. While the labour demand is expected to continue to decline as a result of a stable market for the industry’s products, the labour supply is also predicted to shrink. As a result, the industry will continue to experience a labour shortage, with manager and owner-operator jobs at the greatest risk of going unfilled. Of the 1,100 jobs forecasted to go unfilled by 2025, 90 per cent will be jobs at the manager and owner-operator level, which will result in a skills shortage as well as a labour shortage. For the poultry and egg industry, the research included farm operations engaged in breeding, hatching and raising poultry for meat or egg production, including chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, pheasants, partridges and pigeons. Similar to the dairy industry, a leveling of demand for poultry and egg production and improved industry productivity will limit the demand for labour, while a shrinking supply of domestic labour will widen the industry labour gap. In 2014, 15,600 people were employed in the poultry and egg industry and an additional 250 jobs went unfilled due to a lack of domestic labour. These shortages cost the industry an estimated $6 million in lost sales. By 2025, 15,900 workers will be required, and 1,100 jobs are at risk of going unfilled. As with the dairy-cattle industry, manager and owner-operator jobs will be the most difficult to fill. Both industries will be significantly impacted by retirement, with nearly one-third of the dairy workforce and nearly one-quarter of the poultry and egg workforce expected to retire by 2025. Finding Canadian workers with the right skills and experience is the greatest barrier to recruitment for both industries, despite the fact that they often offer attractive work conditions, including full-time, year-round employment located relatively close to urban centres. Both industries also have voluntary turnover rates that are below the sector average, which means that fewer employees choose to leave their jobs. Unless these industries can find additional sources of labour with the right skills and experience, they will suffer from a critical gap at the managerial and leadership levels that could inhibit their ability to thrive. To address the labour issues identified in the research, CAHRC has developed agriculture-specific human resource (HR) tools designed to support modern farm operations to manage their workforce. CAHRC offers Agri Skills, online and in-person training programs, and the Agri HR Toolkit – an online resource guide and templates to address the HR needs of any business. For agricultural organizations there are customized labour issues briefings that apply the new research to specific commodities and provinces, to explore the labour implications within their specific area.  The Dairy: Labour Market Forecast to 2025 and Poultry and Egg: Labour Market Forecast to 2025 reports can be downloaded at http://www.cahrc-ccrha.ca/agriLMI.ca. The study data was validated through industry consultations conducted Canada-wide including: 1034 surveys of employers, workers and industry stakeholders; 80 phone interviews; six focus groups for a total of more than 100 participants; and seven webinars focused on specific commodity groups with 100 participants in total. The LMI research was funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program.
Jan. 20, 2017 - Ontario livestock and poultry farmers now have a more consistent and transparent process for compensation when their animals are injured or killed by predatory wildlife. The newly updated Ontario Wildlife Damage Compensation Program (OWDCP) standardizes the requirements farmers need to meet to receive compensation. In addition, a new single-stage appeal process simplifies the process to address program application concerns and disputes.The compensation rates, program guidelines and application forms are available at www.ontario.ca/predation.
Jan. 4, 2017 - Canadian agriculture benefited from a relatively low dollar throughout 2016 and this trend is expected to continue into 2017, according to J.P. Gervais, Farm Credit Canada’s chief agricultural economist.Top Drivers“There are certainly other factors that could influence Canadian agriculture, such as the global economy, the investment landscape, commodity and energy prices,” says Gervais, speaking to his top five agriculture economic trends to watch in 2017. “The Canadian dollar, however, has been a major driver for profitability in the last couple of years and could have the biggest influence on the overall success of Canada’s agriculture industry in 2017.”Gervais is forecasting the dollar will hover around the 75-cent mark and will remain below its five-year average value relative to the U.S. dollar in 2017, potentially making the loonie the most significant economic driver to watch in Canadian agriculture this year.The low dollar not only makes Canada more competitive in agricultural markets relative to some of the world’s largest exporters, but it also means higher farm cash receipts for producers whose commodities are priced in U.S. dollars.ProducersA low Canadian dollar will keep the demand for Canadian agricultural commodities healthy, which is especially important considering the higher projected supply of livestock and crops. This means potential revenue growth, especially considering a likely rebound in livestock prices off the weakness observed in the second half of 2016.“A lower Canadian dollar makes farm inputs more expensive, but the net impact in terms of our export competitiveness and cash receipts for producers is certainly positive,” Gervais says. “Given the choice, producers are better off with a low-dollar than one that’s relatively strong compared to the U.S. dollar.”Food processorsFood processors are also better off with a low Canadian dollar, which is partly the reason behind the strong growth in the gross domestic product of the sector over the past few years. Canadian food products are less expensive for foreign buyers, while it is more difficult for foreign food processors to compete in the Canadian market, according to Gervais.“The climate for investment in Canadian food processing is good, given the low dollar and growing demand in the U.S.,” Gervais says. He projects that exports of food manufactured products to the US could climb five per cent in 2017.AgribusinessesA lower-than-average U.S. per Canadian dollar exchange rate supports foreign sales of agribusinesses as more than 90 per cent of all exports are made to the U.S., and compensate for a weaker demand due to the recent downturn in the U.S. farm economy.“The dollar’s impact on agribusinesses is complex and not as consistent as it is on producers and food processors,” said Gervais, noting that strong farm cash receipts due to a weak loonie are generally good news for agribusinesses, since they can expect sales to producers to increase with rising revenues.But he also notes that “a weak loonie raises the price of inputs like fertilizers or equipment, making them more expensive for producers, which may impact their purchase decisions.”For an in-depth analysis of the impact of the Canadian dollar and Gervais’s four other economic drivers to watch in 2017, visit the FCC Ag Economics blog post at www.fcc.ca/AgEconomics
March 24, 2017, Kitchener, Ont – Hybrid Turkeys recently announced plans for ongoing and future investments in the U.S. turkey industry. In order to deliver quality products throughout the supply chain, Hybrid will invest in two new hatcheries, new egg production farms together with new contract partners, state-of-the-art transportation, and the skilled workforce needed to support these areas of operations. “Our business is focused on creating value for customers and built on strong partnerships in the industry,” said Dave Libertini, managing director of Hybrid Turkeys. “As the demands of the modern consumer evolve, the stresses on a collaborative supply chain for the turkey industry have never been greater. A more transparent food system, with ever reducing use of antibiotics, means that the responsible production of high quality day old turkey poults is critical.” The decision for Hendrix Genetics, parent of Hybrid Turkeys, does not come lightly. This move represents a significant investment of financial capital and human resources in a market long overdue for this type of upgrade. “We are committed to delivering the quality poults that Hybrid customers are looking for,” said Peter Gruhl, general manager of Hybrid USA. “We explored many options and have decided that making an investment in new, state-of-the-art facilities is the only way we can satisfy our client’s demands.” The move comes after an announcement in January 2015 in which Hybrid and Ag Forte entered into a commercial egg and poult supply agreement. In November 2016, Hybrid served notice that it would not seek to renew this arrangement beginning in January 2019. Hybrid will continue to supply breeding and commercial stock to the U.S. market and, with access to a global supply chain, expects no interruption in supply for their clients.
March 22, 2017, Toronto, Ont – Two of Canada's largest quick-service restaurant chains – Burger King and Tim Hortons – have pledged to improve their poultry welfare standards. Burger King and Tim Hortons (whose parent company is Restaurant Brands International) collaborated with Mercy For Animals on the new policies. Burger King and Tim Hortons have all pledged to use only chicken that meets the welfare standards laid out by Global Animal Partnership (GAP), an international farmed animal welfare certification program. These standards will require chicken suppliers to breed only higher-welfare strains of chickens, reduce the stocking density of the birds, improve light levels and litter quality inside barns, and use controlled atmosphere stunning to render the birds unconscious before slaughter, dramatically improving slaughter methods and the birds' living conditions. RBI will also transition to cage-free eggs for Burger King and Tim Hortons locations in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Latin America by 2025. “We have been so pleased to work with Burger King and Tim Hortons to develop their progressive broiler welfare policies,” said Krista Hiddema, vice president of Mercy For Animals in Canada. “It is certainly a testament to the times that two of Canada's largest quick-service brands are committed to meeting GAP standards, and we are confident the rest of the Canadian food industry will soon follow.”
March 20, 2017, Vaughan, Ont – Cara recently announced it continues to work with suppliers to evolve animal welfare beyond current standards, including the adoption of controlled atmosphere stunning. Cara has committed to have its suppliers begin the conversion to this humane method by 2020, with a vast majority of its suppliers completed by 2022 with the rest to follow thereafter. An example of Cara's ongoing commitment to humane treatment of animals occurred in February 2016 when the company announced that a number of its restaurant brands were switching to cage free eggs and all of its restaurant brands would do so by 2020. Cara is excited to announce this initiative that goes beyond the current standard and will continue to work with various associations and regulatory bodies to continue to evolve animal welfare in Canada.
March 14, 2017, Siloam Springs, AR – Cobb-Vantress, Inc. recently announced the launch of a new website dedicated to animal welfare. The website can be accessed at cobbcares.com or by visiting cobb-vantress.com under the About Cobb tab. “We’re taking a proactive approach,” said Joel Sappenfield, company president. “Sites like this are important because they allow us to be transparent with our direct customers, consumers and the poultry industry.” Animal welfare has been a focus at Cobb for a long time and has become an increasingly important topic for consumers. Cobb recognizes there is a need to openly discuss animal welfare and poultry care. The company’s goal is to provide a tool that can be used for education and to provide an in-depth look at the company’s programs. “Cobb has a longstanding commitment to animal welfare, and we wanted a place where we could easily share information about our efforts, such as our training programs, research and development, disease prevention, and care and handling procedures,” said Dr. Kate Barger, veterinarian and Cobb director of world animal welfare. The new, interactive animal welfare website is divided into three sections: Education and Awareness, Healthy Birds and Cobb Cares. Each section features information, photos and videos on Cobb’s practices to advance animal welfare in each of these three areas. Visitors to the website can also get a detailed look at Cobb’s commitment and innovative approach to research and development, disease prevention, safe handling at farms and hatcheries, transportation and biosecurity programs. “Our commitment to animal welfare is not only the right thing to do, it is an important moral and ethical obligation we owe to our global customers and, most importantly, to the chickens we breed, raise and distribute worldwide,” said Sappenfield.
March 13, 2017, Vancouver, BC – A&W Food Services of Canada Inc. recently committed to the adoption of even higher animal welfare standards for farm-raised broiler chickens. "We want to continuously raise the bar in animal welfare to ensure animals are treated with respect,” said Susan Senecal, president and chief operating officer at A&W Canada. “Today, we have elevated our standards to include some new ones. It all adds up to a better life." Under A&W’s new requirements, producers must: Introduce physical enhancements that best allow for natural bird behaviour, while preserving an antibiotic-free environment. Ensure a minimum of six hours of darkness in the barn so chickens can rest better at night. Ensure barn density levels meet or exceed the standard set out in the Global Animal Partnership Step Level 2. A&W works with farmers to ensure chickens are humanely raised in large barns with ample access to fresh air, food and water. Lighting, air quality and cleanliness are monitored and clean litter is provided for every flock. A flock health care plan and qualified veterinary care is currently required at each of A&W's supplier farms to maintain flock health, which is actively monitored. A&W uses breeds of birds that can thrive in the barns with optimal health. These birds are raised to a weight best for maintaining mobility and leg and foot health. The company understands that the University of Guelph is undertaking a study to determine whether there may be breeds of chickens better suited for Canadian farms. A&W looks forward to the results of this study. All of A&W's farmers work to ensure that the birds have ample room to roam, with the majority of barns operating at a density well below the industry requirement, providing lots of space to range. A&W currently has stringent standards for the humane handling of birds for euthanasia and has already begun working with its suppliers to adopt controlled atmosphere stunning. This process reduces the individual handling of the birds. The company has committed to a complete conversion to this enhanced method as quickly as possible and no later than the end of 2022. All A&W suppliers are currently required to have annual third party audits by qualified professional animal auditors to ensure compliance to A&W's standards.
March 10, 2017, Toronto, Ont – Jefo was recently received designation as one of Canada’s best managed companies, the second year in a row. "I am very proud that Jefo is being requalified as one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies,” said Jean Fontaine, president and founder of Jefo, adding that 2017 marks the company’s 35th anniversary. “Since our modest beginnings, we have been able to carve out an enviable place in a competitive environment. Our originality has attracted the attention of many customers.” The 2017 Best Managed program recognizes the best-in-class of Canadian-owned and managed companies with revenues over $15 million demonstrating strategy, capability and commitment to achieve sustainable growth. “Best managed companies deserve recognition for their entrepreneurial approach to excelling in an uncertain economic climate,” said Peter Brown, a partner at Deloitte and co-leader of Canada’s Best Managed Companies program. “They truly bring out the best in Canadian business leadership.” Established in 1993, Canada’s Best Managed Companies is one of the country’s leading business awards programs recognizing Canadian-owned and managed companies for innovative, world-class business practices. Winners are an important engine of economic growth for being adaptable and sustainable in a global market. Applicants are evaluated by an independent judging panel made up of judges from Deloitte, CIBC, Canadian Business, the Smith School of Business, and MacKay CEO Forums. Best managed companies share commonalities that include an emphasis on culture and people, innovation, sustained performance and strong financial results. This year’s winners will be honoured at the annual Canada’s Best Managed Companies gala in Toronto on April 19, 2017.
March 24, 2017, Ottawa, Ont – Chicken Farmers of Canada are fighting back against the “inaccurate and irresponsible portrayal of Canadian chicken production that is being used to target retail and foodservice companies.” According to the industry organization, Mercy for Animals, a U.S.-based activist organization, has been using sensationalized video footage and accusations implying that this is representative of Canadian chicken farms. Other groups have also been using questionable information to fuel their campaigns and push an agenda to eliminate animal agriculture and shutter Canadian farms, CFC officials added. “These tactics are shameful, inaccurate, deliberately misleading, and undermine the hard work and animal welfare standards of local Canadian farmers throughout the country,” the organization stated in a recent press release. "We believe that this video footage isn't from a Canadian chicken farm and appears to be recycled from previous propaganda campaigns that have taken place in other countries," said Benoît Fontaine, chair of Chicken Farmers of Canada, adding 90 per cent of the country’s poultry operations are family owned and audited for animal welfare standards. "Canadian chicken farms are run by hardworking men and women who take to heart their responsibility to uphold animal health and welfare on their farm and share Canadian values. They are proud ambassadors in promoting and defending their good management practices, and believe that there is no defense for the mistreatment of birds." The Chicken Farmers of Canada’s press release describes the organization’s mandatory Animal Care Program, which is administered across all 2,800 chicken farms in Canada. The program recently completed an inaugural comprehensive third-party audit. NSF International's report concluded: "The national Animal Care Program has been implemented effectively and maintained on an on-going basis. Animal care measures have been consistently applied." NSF is an internationally recognized, third-party certification body, accredited by the American National Standards Institute to ISO 17065. “Animal rights groups claim that mistreatment of animals has no place in society today,” the press release stated. “We agree.” “Farmers in Canada have a responsibility to the birds they raise, to the industry, to their fellow farmers, and to all consumers for upholding high principles of animal health and welfare on the farm.”
Unless you’ve had your head in the sand for the last 30 years, you know producers of food now have to pay a lot more attention to what the end consumer wants than perhaps they did in the past. The fact that it may cost more to produce a commodity if the animal is housed differently is of little concern to Joe Shopper. What he or she wants to do is make a “feel-good” purchase.
Jan. 16, 2016 – Canadians looking for the real story about their food can get it directly from the source online with virtual visits to farms and processing plants. Farm & Food Care is proud to present its latest national outreach initiative – FarmFood360°. Using 360 cameras and virtual reality technology, the new FarmFood360° website gives Canadians the chance to tour real, working farms and food processing plants, all without putting on boots. It’s the latest version of the highly successful Virtual Farm Tours initiative, which was first launched in 2007. “Canadians want to know more about their food, but they are also increasingly removed from its production,” says Ian McKillop, chair of Farm & Food Care Canada. “Changing technology also means they are looking for and finding information in different ways. “FarmFood360° keeps pace with both these factors; it uses modern technology to immerse them right in the process, and address their questions in the most compelling way possible.” Farm & Food Care partnered with Gay Lea Foods Co-operative Ltd. and Dairy Farmers of Canada to add three new tours to the FarmFood360°  website – a dairy farm with a Voluntary Milking System, as well as two individual milk and cheese processing facilities. Visitors can access these tours on tablets and desktop computers, as well as through mobile phones and VR (Virtual Reality) viewers. Interviews with the farmers and plant employees involved in each business have also been added. Both dairy processing facility tours were created in partnership with Gay Lea Foods Co-operative Ltd. Steve Dolson, chair of Gay Lea Foods, says “Farm & Food Care has created an accessible and practical way for us to open the doors to two of our processing facilities – locations that are usually restricted to ensure food safety and quality.” “Gay Lea Foods is pleased to provide this unique opportunity for Canadians to see how milk from family farms is transformed into the milk, cream and cheese they know and love.” Michael Barrett, president and CEO of Gay Lea Foods, added “we are tremendously proud of our employees and happy to highlight the passion, care and dedication that goes into the wholesome products our company is known for.”  As an original partner in the first Virtual Farm Tours project, Dairy Farmers of Canada again worked with Farm & Food Care to film a dairy farm using Voluntary Milking System in Prince Edward Island. These tours compliment the two dairy farm tours already on the site – featuring farms that use both free stall and tie stall milking technologies. “Using new technology to bring farm life to Canadians is both exciting and a critical part of food production,” says Wally Smith, president of Dairy Farmers of Canada. “This modern platform is a great way of doing just that. These immersive tours open barn doors to show the passion and care our farmers put into the food they produce.” This national initiative is being launched with a newly rebranded and interactive website, www.FarmFood360.ca. The site features all 23 farms originally featured on the Virtual Farm Tour platform plus the three new virtual reality tours. Additional tours will be added later in 2017.
In Lower Saxony, Germany, Stefan Teepker has just spent 25,000 € (approximately $36,500 CAD) on a new on-farm visitor gallery complete with food vending machine, video system and 24-hour viewing area on one of his poultry farms.It’s not that he’s expecting the vending machine to be a big money maker – he needs 15 € a day in sales to make the venture work – but he’s hoping it will attract the non-farming public to his farm to learn more about how broiler chickens are raised, housed and treated in Germany. Teepker unveiled his concept to a group of visiting international agricultural journalists who were touring northern and eastern Germany this past July.It’s not easy being a farmer in Lower Saxony, where agriculture minister Christian Meyer represents the Green Party. Strict animal welfare rules, limitations on new barn constructions and looming new clean air laws mean farmers have a lot more to worry about than just raising healthy, quality livestock and poultry. To Teepker’s way of thinking, that’s precisely why someone has to show people where their food comes from, and there’s nobody better to do that than farmers themselves.“We have to show how we produce the meat people eat and with this new viewing area, people can come here any time to watch our birds,” he explained while looking into his bright, modern barn filled with healthy, contented birds. “Some farmers say we can’t do this job, someone else should – but who else would that be?”Doing nothing is not an option as the pressure from those opposed to livestock farming is already making itself felt. For example, even enriched poultry cages will be phased out entirely in favour of all cage-free production by 2025, beak trimming will be banned by the end of 2016, and culling of male chicks will no longer be permitted in Lower Saxony by the end of 2017.The state has also committed to reducing antibiotic use in agriculture by 50 per cent in five years, resulting in farmers having to notify the government each time they purchase antibiotics for livestock use. And according to Teepker, Lower Saxony is no longer issuing building permits for new livestock barns, citing environmental concerns, and that it is very difficult to even secure permission to renew existing facilities. Farmers who wish to expand their production have no choice but to buy existing farms or relocate to other parts of Germany, he said. “We built our first barn in 2009, where we got a permit in 12 months and built in six – it was two years in total from thought to bird. Now it is up to six years,” he said. New clean air laws from the European Union designed to reduce emissions from intensive livestock operations will mean new costs too, he added. Teepker farms together with his younger brother Matthias near Handrup, Lower Saxony, about 360 km north of Frankfurt. He’s in charge of the broiler side of their operation, which also includes pigs, biogas production and 350 hectares (approximately 865 acres) of crops. In 2013 he purchased the farm where he has added the viewing gallery and renovated the 10-year old facilities. And although he considered expansion into Eastern Germany several years ago, he ultimately decided against it due to the high cost of farms. Teepker is not alone among farmers in Germany adding viewing galleries into their livestock barns, but notes that his goes above and beyond the simple window and information card that most provide. Videos available on demand, for example, demonstrate other aspects of his farm and the life cycle of his birds. Feed samples show what birds eat and feeders and waterers are on display to demonstrate how they eat and drink.And the vending machine, which Teepker has stocked with chicken products, can sell anything from a single egg to a five kilogram bag of potatoes. This particular farm happens to be on a busy public cycling trail, so Teepker hopes his location – and the cold drinks he is including in the vending machine – will help draw people in.   View the embedded image gallery online at: https://www.canadianpoultrymag.com/index.php?option=com_k2&Itemid=34&lang=en&layout=latest&view=latest#sigProGalleria4f71ff03b9 If the viewing room and vending machine are successful on the broiler barn, there are plans for a similar installation on one of their pig barns too.Facebook is his biggest audience, where “Landwirtschaft Teepker” and regular posts of photos and updates about farm activities have garnered more than 2,100 likes, but he’s also a keen supporter of video. His most popular online video, called a look into chicken production, has logged more than 78,000 views to date. “YouTube is the new Google so you need to have video even if it isn’t the best,” he believes. But nothing beats a face to face connection, which is why the Teepkers have also reached out to local schools, starting about five years ago with inviting kindergarten classes out to the farm and expanding to include twice yearly classroom visits with small birds. They also sponsor children’s soccer jerseys in the community. And those public education efforts seem to be paying off. “We are noticing changes in attitudes with parents and teachers – “where are the cages” is now the most asked question,” Teepker said, adding the most people don’t know that German broilers are not raised in cages. “I think and hope that we are doing a good job.”Yet despite some success, Teepker is also a realist about the public pressures facing farmers and the challenges of reaching out to consumers who are increasingly distanced from farming and food production. “This is a first step, but the discussion will never finish,” he believes.
Producers face a great many challenges, from increasing red tape to unaffordable land prices from market instability to climate change. But there’s one challenge that Egg Farmers of Canada (EFC) CEO Tim Lambert thinks will trump the others: social license. Addressing the challenge head on, EFC created EggCentric TV, an online television network where eggs – and those who produce them – come first. What is social license?Generally speaking, social license refers to a community’s acceptance or approval of the businesses that operate within it. Social license sits outside of the regulatory system. It is not something that can be purchased; it is earned through transparency, solid communication, meaningful dialogue, and ethical and responsible behavior. The concept of social license isn’t new. In recent years, though, it has become increasingly important for businesses, like those operated by Canada’s farming community, to connect with the general public to establish open, genuine dialogue. “I believe that the whole concept of social license and public trust is the next big challenge in not just agriculture, but the whole of society in business, faces,” said Lambert.  Transparency is key, he continued. “More and more, we need to communicate who we are, what we do and how we’re doing it. Control the media, control the messageFor too long, mainstream media has had the cornerstone on story telling. And while farmers were in the fields or in the barns, mainstream media was working on its next big exposé. “The problem we have is who tells our story,” said Lambert. “On the cage side of the debate, the story is told by animal welfare or animal rights activists.” Ordinary journalists, said Lambert, have tried to put “feel good” stories out and failed. “The major newspapers choose not to cover it from our side because there’s no excitement in telling a good news story,” he said. Lambert knew, though, that Canada’s egg farmers had plenty of good stories to tell, so instead of seeking traditional coverage he decided to sidestep it altogether. The result: EggCentric TV. “It’s a way of bypassing traditional media who will frame the story the way they want to tell it, not the way it is,” said Lambert. “We will be able to use this platform in so many ways, across the world, to tell the story of the egg industry and what a brilliant story it is.” TELLING THE GOOD NEWS STORIESWhen Lambert first starting exploring the idea of EggCentric TV he worried that there wouldn’t be enough content to justify the project. In order for the project to be a success, he knew that content would have to be regularly updated. Once they got going, though, he and his team quickly realized that content is virtually endless. “We started by thinking in terms of all of the cooking programs, so celebrity chefs and recipes,” he said. “But there’s a much bigger opportunity. A much broader opportunity.” Today, EggCentric TV features healthy recipes created by Canada’s top celebrity chefs. Individual programs highlight the nutritional value of eggs, and show viewers how eggs are produced. They focus on animal care, different housing systems and how eggs are produced sustainably. “EggCentric TV is the absolute ideal platform for us to build our public trust and social license,” said Lambert. “Why? Because it’s our platform.” Sarah Caron is the lead on the EggCentric TV project. She says that the platform allows them to reach an ever-growing population of Internet users and digital video viewers. “Households around the world with connected TVs are expected to double in the next five years,” she said. “That is a growth of 835 percent in just 10 years. “Streaming media gives consumers more convenience, more options and better programming than traditional TV can offer,” she continued. “This gives consumers control over what they watch – whenever and wherever they want.” EggCentric TV is available through Apple TV, as well as Roku, a streaming media player that connect your TV to your home Internet connection. Roku is available in the US, the UK, Ireland, France and Mexico. Each month, new countries are added to that list. “Eggcentric TV has been successful on Roku from the beginning, averaging over 1,000 visits per week from global users,” said Caron. “Worldwide interest in eggs is amazing. Eggcentric TV features engaging video content from social influencers and celebrity chefs. It aims to share simple and delicious recipes, [and offers] tricks and tips that inspire consumers to create and enjoy egg dishes at home.” To build excitement, Roku and her team load content and share it on social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube. At last count, total social engagements, likes and retweets, reached over 300,000. Total impressions, the number of times an ad has been seen, reached 25.5 million. “And we just have our own Canadian content up,” said Lambert.   While EFC is committed to new content every week, the organization hopes that egg producers from other nations will join them in sharing the message. They too, he said, should view social license as the next big thing.
Numbers found on cans of tuna provide the combination to unlock a wealth of information. It’s yet another example of the food system recognizing consumer demand for information and embracing transparency.Chicken of the Sea’s traceability website allows consumers to enter a 10-to-15 digit number found on the bottom of certain tuna products. In return, the consumer can read a description of the species; where the seafood was caught, including a map and a species-specific stock status report from the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation; the fishing method used; the fishing vessel; where the seafood was processed; where the seafood was canned; and general information on the company’s sustainability initiatives. The company says it will eventually expand the program to its entire shelf-stable line.“It is important for our customers to have an opportunity to know the story behind their fish,” said Chicken of the Sea’s director of sustainability. “Traceability is an essential step.”Former New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman recently suggested that the long and contentious GMO labeling law debate could force a transparency revolution. There’s no doubt that farmers and food makers need to be aggressive in opening their doors and letting consumers see how food is produced, but in reality, a transparency revolution is already underway.Chicken of the Sea’s new program is a good example, but only one of many.Hershey’s commitment to increased transparency and move to simpler ingredients goes back to 2015. The company’s website now provides an A-to-Z glossary of all its ingredients with easy-to-understand descriptions.Leading food, beverage and consumer products companies last December unveiled SmartLabel to empower consumers to access a myriad of information with a simple bar code scan or click of a website.  The technology puts nutritional information, ingredients, allergens, third-party verifications, social compliance programs, usage instructions, advisories and safe handling instructions at consumers’ fingertips in a standardized format.At California’s JS West and Companies, a leading egg producer, cameras in the barns allow online visitors to see what the hens are doing 24 hours a day. Visitors to the site are welcome to leave comments about what they see.New Jersey-based Catelli Brothers has installed a 12-camera system at its veal plant that monitors the facility in real time. A third-party generates a daily report on animal treatment.At Indiana’s Fair Oaks Farms, the doors are open for thousands of visitors every year to look through glass walls to see how real dairies produce milk and how pigs are born and cared for. The founders of the company say they have nothing to hide and want the public to see how their animals are treated.CFI research proves that increased transparency is a powerful tool to earn consumer trust. People today expect transparency and want to see how food is produced. Consumers want the ability to engage and get questions answered promptly and in easy-to-understand language. They want to see how food is produced, who’s producing it, what’s in it and how it impacts their health.A growing number of farms and food companies are engaged in the transparency revolution and pulling back the curtain, which should be applauded. Critics who intentionally disregard the progress toward greater transparency only serve to discourage it by refusing to give credit where credit is due. So, food system critics are encouraged to be transparent about genuine progress among food producers just as producers who have yet to embrace transparency need to be encouraged to build on the positive momentum. There is no denying the ability of transparency to increase consumer trust. nReprinted with permission from the Center for Food Integrity (CFI).  CFI’s vision is to lead the public discussion to build trust in today’s food system and facilitate dialog with the food system to create better alignment with consumer expectations. For more information, visit: www.foodintegrity.org
March 24, 2017, Lexington, KY – ONE: The Alltech Ideas Conference, being held May 21 to 24 in Lexington, Ky., is certain to inspire and motivate producers and agribusiness leaders, but more importantly, it will prepare them for the future. The three-day conference will bring together industry experts from across the globe to share insights and solutions to today’s most pressing issues within agriculture. To provide an opportunity for every corner of production agriculture to engage in disruption, ONE17 will include various tracks, including a focus session specifically dedicated to poultry production. From topics covering in ovo techniques and the use of CRISPR/Cas9 genome modification to the effects of backyard farming and consumer meat preferences, ONE17 will give poultry producers real-life solutions. “We believe it’s important for everyone involved in agriculture to be inspired to harness disruption,” said Dr. Pearse Lyons, founder and president of Alltech. “For poultry producers, however, we understand that innovation must be practical and profitable. Our poultry focus session will facilitate open discussions about what’s ahead for the poultry industry and will drive the disruptive thinking that could determine long-term success.” ONE17 poultry focus sessions include: In Ovo: Counting your chickens before they hatch? Could in ovo techniques be the next disruption in the poultry industry, and what benefits could they deliver to the consumer? Chickens by Design: What implications does CRISPR/Cas9 have for the world’s preferred protein? Slow-Grown Disruption: Is the slow-growth movement a disruption? Is it sustainable? Chickens and Eggs: Two growing markets have emerged: backyard farming and large-scale consolidation. What are the opportunities? Disruption in Washington: What can we expect from the new leadership landscape? How could the food chain and global trade be disrupted? The Biologist’s Toolbox: Precise gene editing technologies are the newest tool in the biologist’s toolbox, but are we pushing ethical limits?  For more information on the ONE17 poultry focus session, visit one.alltech.com/poultry.
February 9, 2017 – The global poultry probiotics market size was estimated at over $750 million (US) in 2015 and is likely to be valued at $1.2 billion (US) by 2023, according to Global Market Insights. The global probiotic ingredients market size is likely to cross $46 billion (US) by 2020. North America, especially the U.S. probiotics market for poultry, is likely to grow at steady rates owing to increase in meat consumption, particularly chicken. Europe is also likely to grow at steady rates owing to ban on antibiotic feed supplements. Asia Pacific probiotics market is likely to grow owing to increase in awareness of benefits in meat production. Globally, antibiotics are used to prevent poultry diseases and pathogens required for improving egg and meat production. Dietary antibiotics used in poultry applications have encountered some problems such as drug residues in bird bodies, drug resistant bacteria development, and microflora imbalance. Increasing application in poultry market is likely to counter the aforementioned factors and promote demand over the forecast period. Probiotic species belonging to Bacillus, Streptococcus, Lactobacillus, Enterococcus, Bifidobacterium, Candida, Saccharomyces and Aspergillus are used in poultry applications and are expected to have beneficial effects on broiler performance. Poultry feed accounts for almost 70 per cent of the total production cost and, therefore, it is necessary to improve feed efficiency with minimum cost. In the poultry industry, chicks are subjected to microflora environment and may get infected. Broiler chickens can also succumb to stress owing to production pressure. Under such a scenario, synthetic antimicrobial agents and antibiotics are used to alleviate stress and improve feed efficiency. However, antibiotics in poultry applications are becoming undesirable owing to residues in meat products and development of antibiotic resistant properties. Europe has banned use of antibiotics as a growth-promoting agent in poultry application owing to several negative effects. These aforementioned factors are expected to drive probiotics demand in the poultry market. Antibiotics failure to treat human diseases effectively has led the European Union (EU) to ban low doses of antibiotics in animal feed. This factor has also led the U.S. government officials to restrict antibiotics use in animal feed. Poultry probiotics products are available in the form of power and liquid feed supplements. Commercial products in the market may be comprised of a single strain of bacteria or single strain of yeast or a mixture of both. Chicks/broilers/layers require a dose of around 0.5 kg per ton of feed whereas breeders require close to 1 kg per ton of feed. The global probiotics market share is fragmented with the top five companies catering to more than 35 per cent of the total demand. Major companies include Danone, Yakult, Nestle and Chr Hansen. Other prominent manufacturers include Danisco, BioGaia, Arla Foods, General Mills, Bilogics AB, DuPont, DSM and ConAgra.
Jan. 25, 2017 - 4-H Canada and Syngenta Canada are pleased to announce the national winners of the Proud to Bee a 4-H’er video contest. 4-H’ers from across Canada were asked to create a short video, either as a club or as individuals, demonstrating their pride in being a part of the 4-H program and reflecting the wide variety of Canadian 4-H clubs, projects, communities and age groups.The videos submitted during the contest entry period in November—coinciding with National 4-H Month—highlighted the common values and central experience of 4-H in building responsible, caring and contributing young leaders, and the sense of pride and accomplishment they all feel as 4-H’ers. “Congratulations to all of the winning 4-H clubs and 4-H members who did such a wonderful job of showing their enthusiasm and excitement for 4-H in their videos, making this contest a great success,” said Shannon Benner, CEO of 4-H Canada.  “Thanks to Syngenta and the Proud to Bee a 4-H’er initiative, 4-H youth across Canada have had incredible opportunities to grow their knowledge of the important work of pollinators and show leadership in their communities by supporting the creation of pollinator-friendly habitats.”    Approximately 3,800 votes were cast during the online public voting period. The winning entry received a GoPro HERO5 camera. The first and second runner-up entries each received an Apple iPad mini 2 and the remaining top ten entries received a selfie stick. Each of the top ten entries also received 4-H Canada branded items to continue displaying their 4-H pride in their communities. Proud to Bee a 4-H’er – Winning Video Entries 1st place - The Pas Helping Hands  / 4-H Manitoba 2nd place - Aidan Tully / 4-H Manitoba 3rd place - Colton Skori / 4-H Alberta 4th place - Comox Valley 4-H Calf Club / 4-H British Columbia 5th place - Boots N Bridles 4-H Club / 4-H British Columbia 6th place - Irishtown 4-H Club / 4-H New Brunswick 7th place - Caroline Carpenter / 4-H New Brunswick 8th place - 4-W 4-H Club / 4-H Alberta 9th place - Hillmond 4-H Beef Club / 4-H Saskatchewan 10th place - Jocelyn Kerr / 4-H British Columbia This fun and engaging video contest wrapped up the third year of Proud to Bee a 4-H’er, a national initiative encouraging 4-H club members to learn about the amazing world of bees and other pollinators, which includes planting and tending pollinator-friendly gardens in their communities. Since 2014, close to 100,000 seed packets have been distributed across Canada, through the generous support of Syngenta, giving 4-H’ers and others the opportunity to create pollinator-friendly habitats and to enjoy the outdoors.“The addition of the Proud to Bee a 4-H’er video contest in 2016 was a fun and fitting way to cap off a successful year of activities that saw more than 120 4-H Canada clubs from coast-to-coast-to-coast support the important work of pollinators. The enthusiasm that 4-H’ers brought to their Proud to Bee a 4-H’er activities was on full display in their video submissions,” says Dr. Paul Hoekstra, Stewardship and Policy Manager with Syngenta Canada. Syngenta support for Proud to Bee a 4-H’er is through its Operation Pollinator program, which is focused on research and other initiatives that contribute to enhanced biodiversity and habitat in support of healthy pollinator populations. To watch the winning videos, please visit www.youtube.com/4HCanada.
Donald Shaver has been retired from poultry breeding since 1986, but this hasn’t diminished his passion for feeding a hungry world and promoting his vision for accomplishing it.Shaver recently gave a keynote presentation to the 11th International Symposium on Avian Endocrinology, held in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.Entitled “Mandating a sustainable economy before it’s too late”, the presentation dealt with a number of current issues critical to, in Shaver’s view, the future of humanity, as we know it.For sustainable development, he used the United Nations 1987 definition that it “is attained when current generations could meet their needs without undermining or destroying future generations’ chances of having their needs met”.Of course, much has changed since 1987, especially recognition of the twin challenges of climate change and the associated problem of finite water resources.“There isn’t an alternative presently known to man that will safeguard the well-being of our grandchildren, short of immediate, co-ordinated reductions in CO2 emissions to levels that will assure human survival,” Shaver said, with regard to global warming and CO2 emissions.  “The economics of the so-called market place alone, will not be able to accomplish this, for it is a truly Churchillian undertaking.”   The consequences of existing climate change in terms of loss of ice cover and rising sea levels, increasingly volatile weather phenomena, etc. are well known.Many of these factors are already influencing the world’s food supply.  But it is not just climate change that is affecting food security.  Shaver quoted Mahatma Gandhi (who died in 1948) as saying that “the earth provides enough for everyone’s needs, but not for everyone’s greed”.   The West’s model for food production, Shaver stated, will fail to feed the world if adapted globally, because it destroys resources and many of the traditional farmers whose knowledge is so essential to future food security. One of the main thrusts of the presentation was the need for governments to restore the priority of food production and agriculture in the scientific world. Apart from those involved in space or defense programs, scientists’ funding is unreliable and short term. The need for worldwide food security is paramount.  And the industrial systems now operating in the West are not only largely unsustainable in their present form, they are unsuited for exporting to Africa and other less-developed food systems. This is particularly so for animal systems which, except for ruminants, compete with the human population for food resources.Effects of climate changeClimate change is already reducing crop yields.  Research has shown that, while corn yields in France rose by 60 per cent between 1960 and 2000 (the green revolution), they were flat for the next decade. They are predicted to fall by 12 per cent over the next twenty years.  Wheat and soya yields showed a similar pattern and are expected to fall by up to 20 per cent. In the U.S. Midwest, higher temperatures are expected to lower crop yields by up to 63 per cent by the end of this century.  Similar reductions may be expected in the Canadian prairies, and, as the world’s sixth largest agricultural economy, this can be predicted to significantly affect the world’s food supply.The inequity in food distribution is well known.  Obesity is rampant in the West, and yet many economies are characterized by widespread malnutrition. Shaver stated, “Nor do the industrialized countries recognize that, for their own future security, they must commit to helping find an enduring solution to the chronic food shortages present in too many disadvantaged areas. Some of us are beginning to think that terrorism is not entirely based on religious differences.”Shaver also made reference to the inequalities in income and spending power between the “one per cent” and the rest of society. In the past half-century, taxation has favoured the rich in many countries, particularly the U.S. Finding workable solutions“If we are to build a more sustainable economic system, we must legislate a less reckless financial sector,” he said.  “Neo-liberal capitalism may create wealth, but no attempt is made to distribute this wealth with any degree of fairness, much less honesty. We have apparently accepted a “CEO mythology” replete with excessive salary, bonuses. Even in Great Britain, CEO’s from the top 100 companies enjoyed a 10 per cent salary increase in 2015 and are now paid 129 times more than their employees. Research has shown that since 2008, 91 per cent of all financial gains in the U.S. went to the “one per cent”, and they are basically not spending the money, while many of the other 99 per cent spend all their money just to get by.  This weakens demand and suppresses growth.”While admitting that Canada, on its own, can do little to alter the world’s CO2 levels, we have nothing to lose by establishing a sustainable food system. Shaver proposed the establishment of a “senior cabinet post, second only to the prime minister, responsible for sustainable economic development and the sciences. Shaver envisions that this person would firmly direct our national scientific activity with respect to sustainability, eliminating duplication and managing the function of bureaucracy in areas where it lacks expertise. Furthermore, he would require the creation of a sustainability commission, chaired by the chief scientist; a non-partisan group, with long-term goals. It would not only create plans for Canadian sustainability, but also liaise with similar bodies in other countries.Shaver sees this commission initially providing the prime minister with three 10-year plans, reviewed and if necessary updated as circumstances change. The rewards envisaged would accrue to the scientists involved with the various projects and would be a serious incentive for long-term scientific endeavour.  In many cases, the challenges we face can be solved with existing knowledge. What is needed is the will to recognize and prioritize the need for action in the field of sustainability.In conclusion, Shaver said that “the future human reality will be centred less on technology and industrial might than on food and water security for all mankind.  An Eastern philosopher observed that knowing the facts is easy; knowing how to act based on the facts is difficult!”
Dec. 12, 2016 - There appears to be a growing interest in agriculture education in Canada, along with an increasing number of job opportunities in the industry, according to Statistics Canada (StatsCan) data and a couple of independent surveys.StatsCan data reveals there were a total of 12,168 students studying in agriculture or an ag-related program in 2014, which is a 2.7 per cent increase from the previous year and a 16.6 per cent overall increase from 2009-10.The number of enrollments in agricultural programs grew at a rate double of all post-secondary enrollments (2.7 per cent and 1.2 per cent, respectively), while slowing down at about the same level as all other post-secondary programs over the past five years.Agriculture programs are also more likely to see full-time enrollment than other programs (87 per cent compared to 75 per cent, respectively) and this rate has been steady over the past five years.A recent informal Farm Credit Canada (FCC) survey of 33 post-secondary institutions offering agriculture and ag-related programs confirms agriculture has become a popular career option, especially over the past five years as the industry has grown.“This is a testament to the strength and appeal of Canada’s agriculture industry, which is generating more interest among students than ever before,” Todd Klink, FCC’s chief marketing officer, who has undertaken projects to get high schools students interested in careers in agriculture says. “As the industry grows, so does the need for additional talented, energetic and well-educated young people.”The need to attract skilled and educated young people to Canada’s agriculture industry is highlighted in a recent study by Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC).Agriculture 2025: How the Sector’s Labour Challenges Will Shape its Future shows the gap between labour demand and the domestic workforce in agriculture has doubled from 30,000 to 59,000 in the past 10 years and projections indicate that by 2025, the Canadian agri-workforce could be short workers for 114,000 jobs. The study also reveals that primary agriculture has the highest industry job vacancy rate at seven per cent.“The sustainability and future growth of Canada’s agriculture and agri-food industry is at risk,” Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst, CAHRC executive director, explains in releasing the study. “It is critically important that this risk is acknowledged and mitigated in an intentional and strategic way.”FCC says it is committed to helping young people enter the industry by offering various loan products for young farmers and through its long-standing support for 4-H Canada clubs and programs and Agriculture in the Classroom.“Given that one in eight jobs in Canada are tied to the agri-food industry, there are a lot of opportunities for young people,” Klink says. “The growing interest in agriculture education shows we can be optimistic for the future of agriculture.”
Dec. 6, 2016 - The National Plant and Animal Health Planning Forum in Ottawa is hosting representatives from across federal and provincial governments, industry and academia, to identify and discuss the actions needed to strengthen the protection of plant and animal health in Canada.The objective of the Forum is to build a national strategy for plant and animal health which will be built on a vision shared by all participating partners. It will focus on strengthening Canada's agriculture sector through innovation, collaboration, and risk prevention."This forum presents a unique opportunity to identify and discuss the actions that we need to take together to develop a national plant and animal health strategy," Lawrence MacAulay, minister of agriculture and agri-food says. "We need to work together, build on our successes, learn from our challenges and take a greater proactive, integrated and preventive approach to protecting Canadian agriculture.""A national integrated plant and animal health strategy developed with industry leadership, and in full collaboration with provincial and federal governments, is a significant step forward not only for stakeholders, but for Canadians and their communities, increasing their trust in Canadian agriculture," adds Phil Boyd, executive director of Turkey Farmers of Canada.A draft strategy will be available in the new year for public consultation. Learn more about the Plant and Animal Health Strategy, and share your ideas on strengthening plant and animal health today.Representatives from all 10 provinces and over 50 industry associations are participating in the National Plant and Animal Health Planning Forum. Federal, provincial and territorial agriculture ministers endorsed the development of a national strategy for plant and animal health in summer 2016 and will receive the draft strategy at their annual meeting in July 2017.
March 20, 2017, Ottawa, Ont – Chicken Farmers of Canada's (CFC) commitment to animal care has been confirmed with the completion of a comprehensive third-party audit. "The national Animal Care Program has been implemented effectively and maintained on an on-going basis,” stated NSF International in its report. “Animal care measures have been consistently applied." Under CFC's Animal Care Program, audits are conducted annually on all Canadian chicken farms. It is a mandatory program with enforcement measures for issues of non-compliance and the program guarantees one national standard for consistency of requirements and recordkeeping on all chicken farms in Canada. CFC has been administering a national Animal Care Program on all 2,800 broiler chicken farms across Canada since 2009. Since 2016, the implementation of the program by farmers and the effectiveness of CFC's audit team are subject to an annual third-party audit. NSF performs the third-party audits using PAACO (Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization) certified auditors to ensure the effective and consistent implementation of the CFC Animal Care Program. NSF is an internationally recognized, third-party certification body, accredited by the American National Standards Institute to ISO 17065. Their auditors are professionals with years of experience performing animal care and food safety audits for the agricultural sector. Third-party audits were conducted in all provinces and more than 90 per cent of CFC's on-farm auditors were evaluated. The program has credible, science-based foundations in that it is based on the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Hatching Eggs, Breeders, Chickens and Turkeys, as developed by the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC). NFACC is a leader in bringing together stakeholders with different perspectives – farmers, veterinarians, processors, transporters, animal welfare associations, and provincial/federal governments – to develop robust and sound codes of practice. NFACC's code development process begins with a full scientific review, which is used to draft the code that then undergoes a public consultation process. In this way, all Canadians have an opportunity to contribute to the final code. With the code of practice for chicken recently finalized in 2016, CFC has begun implementing the new requirements and is in the process of updating the Animal Care Program by engaging a group of competent experts using NFACC's Animal Care Assessment Framework. Looking forward, CFC will continue funding animal care research as a priority area – to enhance future versions of the code of practice and farm management practices. In addition, CFC is petitioning the federal government to implement a recognition protocol for animal care in Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's next Agricultural Policy Framework, similar to the successful on-farm food safety recognition protocol. Such a recognition system would leverage the work performed by NFACC and organizations such as CFC that are implementing one auditable, mandatory standard to effectively demonstrate the level of animal care on Canadian farms.
September 1, 2016- This September marks the first annual National Chicken Month in Canada. All month long, Canadians from coast to coast will be celebrating their favourite protein – and the hard-working Canadian chicken farm families that raise it. It's no surprise that Canadians love chicken. Not only is it great for your health – with a great mix of lean protein and healthy fats – it's delicious, versatile, and raised to the highest standards: yours. But chicken is good for our country's health, too. Chicken in Canada is produced under a system called supply management. Under this system, farmers meet often to determine how much chicken consumers in Canada are asking for – and carefully match their production to meet that demand. Because of this system, consumers and farmers both win: consumers are guaranteed access to their favourite healthy protein, which continues to be the least expensive compared to other meats, and farmers are able to reinvest in their communities with confidence. "Celebrating National Chicken Month is just one way to celebrate the great chicken that we have been providing to Canadians for decades," said Dave Janzen, Chair of Chicken Farmers of Canada. "Canadians care deeply about their food, about knowing where it comes from and that what they're serving to their family and friends is of the highest quality; our farmers and their families are no different." With chicken being raised year-round from coast to coast, in every province, Canadians are assured a steady supply of fresh, high-quality chicken. Aside from quality and freshness that is among the best in the world, Canadian chicken farming represents: Food Safety You Can Count On: Chicken Farmers of Canada is the first national organization to achieve full federal, provincial and territorial government recognition for our On-Farm Food Safety Assurance Program (OFFSAP). An Agriculture Success Story That Doesn't Need Handouts: Canada'schicken farmers contribute $5.9 billion to Canada's GDP, paying out $2 billion in taxes, funding critical infrastructure and services. Chicken farmers also sustain 78,200 jobs throughout the entire chicken supply chain. High Animal Care Standards: Canadians expect that farm animals in their country are raised to stringent standards. Canada's chicken farmers work every day to meet this demand with a national, credible, mandatory, and audited Animal Care Program. To celebrate Canadian chicken, and Canada's 2,800 family chicken farms, to enter one of the contests or to find out more about National Chicken Month activities happening throughout the month near you, visit www.chickenfarmers.ca for more information.  
May 24, 2016 - At its 31st annual meeting held in Toronto last week, the Further Poultry Processors Association of Canada (FPPAC) elected the following Board of Directors and Officers: Chairman                                 Blair Shier, J.D. Sweid Vice-Chair                                Ian Hesketh, Intercity Packers Secretary-Treasurer                 Jamie Falcao, Maple Leaf Foods Board of Directors: Blair Shier                               J.D. Sweid Don Kilimnik                            DC Foods Ian Hesketh                             Intercity Packers Jamie Falcao                           Maple Leaf Foods Mike Haworth                          Maple Lodge Farms Kevin Thompson                      Sargent Farms Betty Dikeos                            D & D Poultry Yvan Brodeur                           Olymel Paul Murphy                            Maxi Canada   Appointments CFC Rep:     Ian Hesketh, Intercity Packers                                CFC Alternate: Don Kilimnik, DC Foods TFC Rep/TMAC/Supply Policy: Keith Hehn, Golden Valley Farms TFC Alternate: Ed Miner, Zadi Foods TQAC Chicken Rep     Ian Hesketh, Intercity Packers TQAC Alternate         Ed Lamers, Tillsonburg Foods TQAC Turkey             Robert de Valk, FPPAC General Manager
March 23, 2016 -  Organizing an inaugural event is never easy, but in B.C., the organizers of the first B.C. Poultry Conference seemed to have pulled off a seamless event with four AGMs, 18 breakout sessions, two lunch keynote speakers, three networking receptions and a gala dinner.  By having BC Egg Marketing Board, BC Chicken Growers Association, BC Hatching Egg Producers Association and BC Turkey Association AGMs in one place, diversified poultry farmers who normally had to juggle different AGMs could now attend all meetings at one place over two days. Other industry partners and government officials were very pleased with how easy they could now schedule all four AGMs into their calendars. The first BC Poultry Conference, held at the classic Westin Bayshore Hotel on Vancouver’s waterfront March 9-11, 2016 had 541 total registrants for the AGM’s, including over 200 BC poultry farmers, 70 sponsors and exhibitors and 30 out of province industry guests.   “Our long term objective of this conference is to build a cohesive, profitable growing poultry industry that meets the needs of consumers while being socially and environmentally responsible,” states Dale Krahn, Chair, BC Poultry Conference.  “When we have many stakeholders in one place we experience opportunities to network with each other and join forces to make our industry better.”  The attendance and support for the conference, was much greater than organizers expected. "Our gala sold out early at 400 registered people and to accommodate the additional registrants for the AGM's and breakout sessions, our room blocks had to be expanded to neighbouring hotels." states Krahn.  “With a successful first year we are in a position to plan for an even bigger, better conference in 2017.”  Conference sponsors came from all segments of the poultry supply chain – farm equipment suppliers, feed companies, bankers, insurance and other service providers, processors, food retailers, restaurants and more.  These sponsors played a huge role in helping to make this conference a success, according to organizers, because the sponsorship money helps to minimize costs for farmers.  Eight expert breakout speakers covered a range of topics relevant to current industry issues such as biosecurity, animal welfare, avian influenza, water quality, market trends and raising poultry without antibiotics.  On Thursday, Dr. Art Hister gave conference delegates a humorous lunch time key note on healthy living.  On Friday, Astronaut Dr. Robert Thirsk inspired delegates to think about how scientific research in space affects our everyday life.  The public outreach event on Friday morning brought about 22 farmers gearing up early in the morning to hand out 300 Triple O’s sunny starts outside the hotel.  Farmers showed tremendous enthusiasm for engaging with the public and telling their story.  In addition to handing out the famous breakfast sandwiches, farmers also handed out over 100 copies of the “Real Dirt on Farming”, a magazine that dispels common myths about agriculture in Canada.
  The demographics of southern Ontario continue to change and evolve, offering new areas for market growth, states the Chicken Farmers of Ontario (CFO). CFO noted recently that the Chinese and South Asian population is now over 1.3 million in the Greater Toronto Area, and many of these folks really like fresh ‘head and feet on’ chicken. Production of these birds (Frey’s Dual Purpose “yellow” chickens and Silkie chickens) is currently 0.4 per cent of Ontario’s annual chicken production, and the market is estimated to be over 3.0 per cent. All this, says the CFO, demonstrates that the Ontario specialty breeds chicken market is a significant business growth opportunity. Lakeside Game Farm is the largest provider of fresh ‘head and feet on’ Silkies into the Ontario market. Henry Ebert began marketing the black-skinned, dark-fleshed chickens on his game preserve about 20 years ago alongside ducks and geese, when someone made a request that he do so. His son Jim has taken over the business, officially buying it in 2010, but it was back in 2004 that Silkie production on the farm grew substantially. “We were stuck with some birds that someone ordered but didn’t pay for, and we found a market,” Jim says. “After that, we kept production at about 5000 and now it’s at 8000 birds a week.” He sought some contractors to supplement his production around 2004 and has three of them right now. Silkies take longer to reach market weight than standard broilers – 11 to 12 weeks for roosters, and 13-14 weeks for female birds. Other than that, Ebert says production and health concerns are similar and he feeds an all-grain standard ration. He sends birds for processing two to four times a week, and has 14 groups of differently-aged birds in four different rooms in his brand new barn (each one at a different temperature) in order to keep up with fresh production flow. “I’m renovating my layer barn as well,” Ebert reports. “I supply myself and my contractors with chicks. It’s a unique operation in the poultry business, to do it all, start to finish.” Ebert does almost everything on the farm, from bird care to delivery of birds to the processing plant, with the help of two part-time employees. CHALLENGES ALONG THE WAYEbert’s success is the result of working steadily for years to establish himself in the Silkie market, and he says he now has only one competitor in the province. However, that wasn’t always the case. Ebert observes that over the years, there were people who would jump into production after hearing there was money to be made, people who would create too much supply and then undercut each other. Everything changed last year though, when CFO began regulating Silkies under its Specialty Breeds Chicken program (see sidebar). “You need a permit now,” Ebert explains. Lakeside Game Farm produces about 9000 chicks a week depending on the time of year, and recently purchased a new incubator to boost the hatch rate. “My incubators were 20 years old, so it was time,” he says. “I went with a multistage Jamesway unit, which was a big investment, but it’s paying for itself. The hatch rate has gone from 60 per cent to 80 per cent, and the chicks are doing five per cent better too. They’re just healthier and they’re fed the same day they’re hatched.” Ebert sits on the CFO Specialty Breeds Chicken program committee, and says that members are trying to learn more about how fresh specialty markets work. “There’s a desire for producers like me to weigh each bird before it goes for processing, but I just can’t do that because it would be very time-consuming and it would delay me, as I have all sorts of orders coming in all the time, many of them last-minute,” he says. “I am very much in favour of continuing on with using an average weight per bird.” Ebert says that because there are still many frozen specialty chickens being imported into Canada where a fresh product is very much desired, the market for Silkies will continue to grow. He believes using a permit system, as opposed to quota which is very expensive for new growers, is the best way to grow the market. For his hard work, including optimizing the use of his new hatchery and his barn investments, Ebert just won a 2015 Premier’s Award for Agri-food Innovation Excellence. “It’s nice to win the money and get some recognition for hard work,” he says. “Before, you wanted Silkies to be a secret. You didn’t want to advertise, because someone would jump into the market and prices would go down. Now that’s not going to happen with the regulation in place. The stability is great and the barn inspections have been great for my contractors to improve production.”   SPECIALTY BREEDS CHICKEN PROGRAMIn September 2014, Chicken Farmers of Ontario (CFO) approved a new program to support increasing consumer demand for alternative breeds of chicken. The program also brings Ontario into alignment with the national Chicken Farmers of Canada specialty breeds policy. Two common breeds of specialty chicken are included, the Frey’s Special Dual Purpose “yellow” chickens and Silkies, both processed with head and feet left on. CFO’s director of communications and government relations Michael Edmonds says the new program was promoted through an advertising campaign and supported by a series of farmer information sessions throughout the province. “The response to the program and information sessions was strong, with significant numbers of interested farmers seeking information,” he notes. “Since the launch a year ago, the program has increased threefold in volume with 21 farmers now supplying the market with more than 50,000 Frey’s Dual Purpose (15 producers) and Silkie chickens (6 producers) per week.” In order to further promote and support this emerging market, CFO has hired a specialist to work with retailers, processors and farmers to identify opportunities and ensure the supply management system adequately anticipates and supplies growing demand. “The program also places a major focus on compliance to CFO’s Animal Care and On Farm Food Safety Assurance programs,” Edmonds notes. “This focus on quality has resulted in significant investments, upgrades and improvements to the participating farm facilities, particularly in Silkie production. The program has been successful to date and so no significant changes are being considered at this point.” THE SILKIESilkies are well known for their calm, friendly temperament and considered an ideal pet chicken. They are one of the most popular ornamental breeds. Hens are exceptionally broody and make good mothers, so they are commonly used to hatch the eggs of other breeds and species.   HISTORYThe Silkie’s most well-documented point of origin is ancient China, but other places such as India and Java have been named as possibilities. As early as the 7th century, traditional Chinese medicine has held that chicken soup made with Silkie meat is a curative food. The earliest surviving written account of Silkies comes from Marco Polo, who wrote in the 13th century during his Asian travels of a furry chicken. Silkies most likely made their way to the West via the Silk Road and by marine shipping trade. Once they became more common in the West, many myths were perpetuated about them. Early Dutch breeders told buyers they were the offspring of chickens and rabbits. The breed was recognized officially in North America in 1874. APPEARANCE AND BODYSilkies have an extra toe or two and poufy plumage, black skin, black bones and grayish-black meat (melanism). Melanism which extends beyond the skin into an animal’s connective tissue is a rare trait, and in chickens it is caused by a rare genetic mutation believed to have first appeared in Asia. In addition to the Silkie, several other breeds descended from Asian stock possess the mutation. The Silkie got its name for the feel of its plumage. The feathers of a Silkie are furry and fluffy, feeling silk-like, because they lack functioning barbicels, which hold feathers on other bird species down. This lack of barbicels in its feathers also leaves the Silkie unable to fly. The breed does not generally produce as much meat as conventional chickens. Silkies are often mistakenly called a bantam breed, and although they are considered bantams in some countries, the bantam Silkie is actually a separate variety. Almost all North American strains of the breed are bantam-sized, with the males weighing 1.8 kg and females weighing 1.4 kg. Jim Ebert’s birds (male and female) average about 1.45 kg. COOKINGBlack chicken meat is generally considered unusual in European and American cuisine, but several Asian cuisines consider Silkies a gourmet food. Common dishes include soup, braised dishes and curries. Adapted from Wikipedia    
  Food security and sovereignty are increasingly in the news these days. The former means that a country has reliable access to sufficient calories to feed its population, while food sovereignty suggests that the community has control over the way food is produced, traded and consumed. Why should we, in Canada, be concerned over either concept given that we have seemingly endless land on which to grow and raise food, a relatively low population per square kilometer, and highly developed supply chains that can speed it from farm to fork in a matter of days? Well, we should care—a lot. These days, food seems to be regularly in the news and not always in a good way, from Alberta droughts to accounts of the toll that the sharp decline in global dairy prices exacts on producers in countries that mistakenly saw continually increasing exports as the surest way to financial security. Canadian producers also understand that our supply managed production is under attack in various international negotiations, from the CETA with the EU to the TPP that is being negotiated with eleven other countries in the Pacific region. In both negotiations, competitors hope to set Canada’s food production agenda in their own interests. This would compromise our made-in-Canada system, and our food sovereignty. For example, if supply management were negotiated away, chicken producers would have to deal with the U.S. system, which places production responsibility on the producer alone, leaving the processor and the supermarket to reap the benefits of an unequal relationship. American critics like Doug Constance have called this “the Southern Model,” suggesting that it “is a form of sharecropping that replaced slavery in the U.S. South as the dominant form of agriculture production.” Farmers are always on tenterhooks (and the defensive) as to whether or not they will have a remunerative market to sell to. Indeed, the issue of asymmetric relationships is one of the primary reasons supply management was introduced in the first place. How was it possible that family farmers could deal equitably with the 1960s equivalent of Loblaw, Zehrs or Walmart? In short, they could not then and they cannot now. It is supply management, involving multiple stakeholders including supermarkets, consumers, producers and processors, which levels that playing field. Egg and dairy farmers in countries like Australia and the UK, and poultry producers in the United States, face very uncertain times as they attempt to strike appropriate deals with mega-supermarkets and processors. I would suggest we don’t want these imported ways of doing business that severely disadvantage farmers and don’t benefit consumers, any more than we want chicken, eggs, milk or turkey from foreign places to crowd out our Canadian product on our grocery store shelves. The demise of the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) suggests what might happen should supply management disappear. The former CWB is now owned by a Saudi Arabian investment fund and an American agri-food company, and wheat farmers are certainly not ahead of the game. Most producers, if media accounts are correct, pine for the good old days of the single desk marketer. Farmers in that new world have had to become marketers, transporters, selling agents and whole host of other occupations. And the “little guy” is in serious jeopardy. Supply management is a good system that works with farmers to allow them to make a living wage, while providing an excellent product at a competitive price for consumers. And why should producers not earn a small profit for their effort? We hear a lot in the media about how expensive our supply managed commodities are compared to their U.S. counterparts, but the latter remain heavily subsidized, with the latest Farm Bill promising U.S. $1 trillion worth of subsidies to American agriculture over 10 years. And costs of production are much lower than those found in Canada for a variety of reasons. Climate is a major one, as is U.S. immigration policy, or rather, the lack thereof. Indeed, a 2015 report from Texas A&M University hypothesized that the cost of a gallon of milk in the US would have to increase by 90 per cent without cheap immigrant labour. Supply management provides Canadians with 100 per cent food security in the sectors in which it operates, while reflecting Canadian values and culture and contributing to food sovereignty. We don’t need foreign imports in this case. As the old expression has it, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”      
June 23, 2016 - The federal government is freezing the 20 per cent cap on the number of low-wage temporary foreign workers a company can hire.  Labour Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk said the controversial temporary foreign worker program needs an overhaul and will announce her planfor more changes later this year.  But for now, the cap, which was set to go down to 10 per cent beginning July 1, will instead stay where it is.  “I believe this is a prudent step to take as we work to develop a better temporary foreign worker policy and fix some of the problems with the program that emerged under the previous government,'' Mihychuk said in a statement Thursday.  The previous Conservative government started phasing in a cap on low-wage temporary foreign workers _ low-skilled employees paid less than the provincial or territorial median hourly wage - in June 2014, as part of reforms that also included disallowing use of the program in regions of Canada with high unemployment rates.  Those changes followed a series of controversies dogging the program, including reports of fast-food franchise restaurants favouring temporary foreign workers over local employees.  Employers who first began hiring low-wage temporary foreign workers before the cap came into effect will still be able to use it for 20 per cent of their workforce.  Those who started using the program after that point, or who are hiring temporary foreign workers for the first time, are subject to a 10-per-cent cap.  All the other program requirements - including having employers ensuring that Canadians and permanent residents have the first opportunities to apply for available jobs - will remain in place while the cap is frozen.  Ron Davidson of the Canadian Meat Council says meat-processing plants that have been dealing with severe labour shortages will welcome the relief, even if it does not solve all their problems.  “Everything helps. This does not solve the problem, but it all helps,'' Davidson said.  The Liberal government already quietly suspended the cap on low-wage temporary foreign workers for seasonal employers earlier this year.  Seafood processors have said that 180-day exemption will help them get through labour shortages in their busiest time of the year.  A memo obtained by The Canadian Press through the Access to Information Act suggests Employment and Social Development Canada believes lifting the cap would likely create more problems than it  would solve.  The Jan. 6 memo, prepared for Mihychuk ahead of a meeting with a Manitoba pork processing plant, outlined some of the concerns the minister could expect the company to raise, including the cap on low-wage foreign workers.  “Employers in this sector contend that the cap on low-wage temporary foreign workers prevents processing plants from meeting labour needs,'' says the memo.  “The industry is particularly concerned with its ability to operate with the decrease of the cap to 10 per cent as of July 2016.''  The memo also says the government had already brought in administrative changes that allow temporary foreign workers who have been nominated for permanent residency to be excluded from the cap, so that employers can count them as Canadians instead.  The memo also recommended Mihychuk encourage the company to move away from temporary foreign workers - using it only as a last resort - rather than focus on more changes to the program.  “The labour needs of the pork industry are year-round, therefore a long-term solution of hiring more Canadians and/or permanent residents rather than relying on temporary foreign workers is desirable,'' says the memo.  The House of Commons standing committee on human resources studies potential reforms to the program this spring, but will not release its report until after MPs return to Parliament Hill in September.  News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2016  
May 9, 2016 - Olymel is actively pursuing development of its operations in the poultry sector with the announcement of a $10 million investment in the expansion of its primary poultry processing plant at St-Damase in the Montérégie for the installation of an air chilling room. The Olymel facility in St-Damase, which specializes in chicken slaughtering and butchering, will soon have additional production capacity, enabling it to better serve its clientele, including the rotisserie sector and the retail distribution sector. The plant will enjoy more flexibility, since it will acquire a chicken air chilling system while retaining the current water cooling process. This new production component at the St. Damase facility is expected to create ten new jobs. "This major investment in our St-Damase plant reflects the dynamism of the poultry sector. Olymel will soon be announcing another major investment at its Brampton, Ontario poultry further processing facility. Our company is equipping itself to better meet demand from its customers by boosting its production capacity, which also benefits the entire poultry sector in Quebec. In terms of volume, Olymel is now the number one poultry processing company in Canada. This new investment in St-Damase and projects elsewhere in the poultry sector, both completed and planned, will also help to consolidate our presence on the markets, while generating important spinoffs for poultry producers," noted Olymel L.P. President and CEO Réjean Nadeau. The expansion work, which will begin around May 15, will add 15,000 square feet to the rue Principale plant in St. Damase, bringing its total area to over 95,000 square feet. It will be remembered that after a major fire, the plant was completely rebuilt in 1997. The facility employs more than 350 employees on two shifts. In addition to serving private customers with fresh products and various cuts of poultry, the St-Damase plant also supplies Olymel further processing plants, including the plant in nearby Ste-Rosalie. The expansion should be completed in September, and will not affect the normal conduct of the plant's operations. This investment by Olymel in the poultry sector is in addition to a $10 million investment the firm made in the poultry further processing plant at Ste-Rosalie, Montérégie, in 2015. With that investment, Olymel added a third cooking line, which increased the volume of cooked chicken products manufactured there by 40%. Through these investments, Olymel is intensifying its initiatives to add value to house brands such as Olymel and Flamingo, and has also increased its production capacity, making it better able to serve private labels.
April 19, 2016 - Lilydale is currently implementing a number of changes to appease nearby residents in it's Calgary chicken poultry processing plant, located in the inner-city neighbourhood of Ramsay. The changes include building a sound barrier and spraying the property with an industrial deodorizer. READ MORE
  March 18, 2016 - Safe Food Canada is pleased to announce it is collaborating with the Food Processing Human Resources Council (FPHRC), one of the most trusted organizations in food industry skills development and training, to develop an introductory online food safety course addressing Preventive Control Plans (PCP).    The PCP course will be an interactive, online course which will inform food and beverage businesses of the Safe Food for Canadians Act, food safety hazards and preventive controls. Today, many of Canada’s key trading partners are already using a preventive approach to ensure food is safe for consumers. Having a written Preventive Control Plan can increase food safety alignment with international standards, particularly among food processing and packing facilities, food importers and exporters as well as those responsible for food safety.   The course has been undergoing user testing in order to generate first-hand user feedback and is expected to be generally available this summer. The online course will be of particular interest to smaller and mid-sized food businesses. Safe Food Canada CEO, Brian Sterling, takes pride in the level of innovation that the course will bring to the industry. “Food safety has a clear impact on the reputation of a business and on how consumers trust those who produce our food. Safe Food Canada is committed to modernizing how people learn about food safety and assuring that Canada will continuously improve its global status for highly effective food safety practices. The PCP course is another example of how SFC is successfully partnering to support food safety training.”   The major topics covered in the course are: ·         The Safe Food for Canadians Act. ·         What is the role of government and business operators for food safety? ·         What is the function of inspections in Canada? ·         What is a food safety culture and how do you build it? ·         How can you identify food safety hazards and preventive controls? ·         What are the components of a PCP? ·         How can you prepare your own PCP? Safe Food Canada is a not for profit organization with a mandate to modernize food safety and food protection education. Working in partnership with food businesses, academia and government, SFC is catalyzing improvements that will grow Canada’s already excellent reputation as a place for safe, high quality food and beverage production. Visit safefoodcanada.com/news for more details.  
  March 17, 2016 - Safe Food Canada (SFC) is proud to announce the findings of its first research project, which provides practical insights into the current state of food safety culture in Canada. This exploratory study is the first of its kind into the level of spending on food safety training and education for food industry professionals.   SFC has a mandate to modernize the way food professionals in Canada learn about food safety and protection. The company conducts research as one of its four areas of business. The study explored how food businesses invest in food safety training. Factors of interest included actual spending by companies on food safety training, employee job satisfaction, and changes to employee competence and performance. SFC President and CEO, Mr. Brian Sterling, notes that “Safe Food Canada is primarily focused on ensuring that food employees are trained using competency-based, consistent learning frameworks. This exploratory study points out that SFC can help food organizations by providing valuable information so they can assess the relative payback they get for their investments in training. This sentiment is highly supported by other strong players in the industry, who recognize the value that Safe Food Canada will bring to strengthening Canada’s reputation as a trusted source of food.” Amongst the study’s most relevant findings include: ·    Training for general employees typically is done onsite, with 65% of companies declaring that this further complemented by annual external training sessions. ·    While the current state of food safety training itself is seen as acceptable, there is room for improvement on how to measure the change in performance and financial return on investments from training. ·   Only half of the companies surveyed keep track of their expenditures on food safety training, while 35% either do not keep a record or do not separate food safety expenses from other training costs. ·   The majority of participants, said they train from 80%-100% of frontline employees. These people all receive some type of food safety training annually, varying from classroom education to hands-on training. Maple Leaf Foods is a leading sponsor of Safe Food Canada and serves on the company’s Board of Directors with other food businesses and academic organizations. “Food safety should never be viewed as a competitive advantage,” says Maple Leaf Foods Chief Food Safety Officer and SVP, Operations, Randall Huffman. “We are strong supporters of Safe Food Canada and its mission to elevate food safety learning and benchmarking across our industry.” The exploratory study by SFC is a first important step towards the goal of modernizing how people learn about food safety.  The report recommends that SFC undertake a more thorough benchmark study so that individual food businesses can better understand how their investment in food safety training compares with industry norms and best practices.    About Safe Food Canada Safe Food Canada's mission is to serve all food system stakeholders by strengthening food safety and protection excellence through learning partnerships.  Its business is to develop research and knowledge and provide a focus on education and training that addresses gaps in performance and delivers practical expertise on food safety and protection for both private and public good. Visit safefoodcanada.com for more details.  
March 17, 2016 - For the first time since 2013, Ontario’s kosher consumers will have the opportunity to once again purchase fresh, locally grown, locally processed kosher chicken for their tables.  Chicken Farmers of Ontario (CFO), the regulatory body that oversees the growing and marketing of chicken in Ontario, has approved the application of Premier Kosher Inc., to process kosher certified chicken. Premier Kosher Inc. is a unit of the Premier Group of Companies, an integrated poultry growing, transporting and food processing firm.  The processing plant will be located in the town of Abingdon in the Niagara region of Ontario. “We are extremely pleased that Ontario consumers will now have a local option for their kosher chicken purchasing needs," said Henry Zantingh, Chair of CFO.  "The decision to accept the application of Premier Kosher Inc. is the culmination of tremendous effort on the part of both farmers and industry to find a suitable business partner to own and operate an Ontario kosher chicken processing plant." “The Ontario chicken industry understands the importance of addressing the needs of all consumers in Ontario,” said Michael Burrows, Chair of the Association of Ontario Chicken Processors (AOCP).  “We are pleased that Premier Kosher Inc. will be in a position to support the ongoing need of kosher consumers to have a locally grown and processed source of chicken.” “This is an exciting opportunity and we look forward to working with the community to ensure that Premier Kosher becomes a trusted and preferred choice for kosher chicken,” said Paul Tzellos, President of Premier Kosher Inc. The Kashruth Council of Canada (COR) will be working with the Premier Kosher processing plant to provide the kosher certification. “Ontario’s Jewish community has been looking forward to welcoming the arrival of a new kosher processing plant for several years to provide local Ontario-grown, fresh, kosher chicken,” said Richard Rabkin, Executive Director of COR. “COR is pleased to be working with Premier Kosher Inc. to ensure that kosher consumers have a range of products in the marketplace to choose from.”  Chicken Farmers of Ontario will be working with Chicken Farmers of Canada for an allocation of additional supply to serve the kosher community.  "This has been a long process and this announcement is yet another signal that CFO and the chicken industry of Ontario are open for business and working to meet the needs of all core, niche and specialty chicken markets in Ontario," said Rob Dougans, President and CEO of CFO. Premier Kosher Inc. is also being advised by Chuck Weinberg, former owner of Chai Poultry, the last processor to provide locally processed kosher chicken in Ontario.  The Premier Kosher plant is expected to be operational by January 2017 and will have an initial capacity of 50,000 chickens each week.  It is expected to employ up to 80 employees.  

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