Trade
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.

 

Most people don’t know the difference between a broiler chicken and spent fowl. But the readership of Canadian Poultry magazine is likely well aware of what spent fowl is, and understands the significant differences between the two birds. Spent fowl are laying hens that have reached the end of their production cycle: a byproduct of egg and broiler hatching egg production. Fowl meat is much tougher than broiler chicken meat, partially because of genetics, and partially because of the age of the hens at the time of slaughter. While broiler chickens have been bred for meat consumption, spent fowl hens have been bred for their egg laying capacity and these birds are slaughtered at around 60 weeks old, whereas broiler chickens are slaughtered at around six weeks of age. Broiler chickens have never laid an egg in their lifetimes, but spent fowl carry within their meat traces of egg residue, which poses a risk to consumers who suffer from egg allergies.

Another significant difference between spent fowl and broiler meat is that while broiler chicken is subject to import controls, spent fowl is not; unlimited amounts of it can be imported into Canada. While imports of spent fowl had been stable for many years, since 2012 there has been a massive surge of imports, increasing from 47 million kg (eviscerated weight) in 2005 to 103 million kg (eviscerated weight) in 2016, more than doubling in
10 years.

Evidence suggests that this increase is at least in part due to the smuggling of broiler meat, which is being fraudulently declared as spent fowl at the border in order to bypass import controls. Once in the country, the smuggled broiler meat loses its “spent fowl” label and is sold to unsuspecting Canadian further processors, food service and retailers – and ultimately the Canadian public – as domestically-produced chicken. Consider for instance that based on production and trade statistics, in 2012 Canadian imports represented the equivalent of 101 per cent of the United States’ entire spent fowl production. Obviously, this is impossible. Though there was a slight decline during the following two years, spent fowl imports have again returned to suspiciously high levels and imports in the first quarter of 2016 are the highest ever with 29 million kg in just three months. In 2015, Canada appears to have imported the equivalent of 95.6 per cent of the United States’ entire spent fowl production despite the fact the United States exports spent fowl to countries other than Canada and there is also a substantial American domestic demand for spent fowl meat. Clearly something is amiss.

Fraud such as this robs Canada’s chicken farmers and processors of jobs and revenue that could – and should – benefit the Canadian economy. Not only has the tariff evasion directly deprived the public coffers of at least $66 million, the impact of these excessive imports have further deprived the Canadian economy of 8,900 jobs and $600 million in contributions to
the GDP.

Since evidence of this smuggling was uncovered, Canadian poultry producers and processors have been working with the federal government to find ways to stop it. On Oct. 5, 2015, the Canadian government included a pledge to implement a mandatory certification requirement on spent fowl imports. A governmental inter-department working group involving the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Canada Border Services Agency, Global Affairs Canada, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has been formed to move this pledge forward. This is an important first step, and the poultry sector eagerly awaits the working group’s action plan for instituting this mandatory import certification.

One reason the smuggling has been able to go undetected for so long is due to how difficult it is to distinguish between spent fowl meat and broiler meat, particularly when it comes to inspecting shipments of boneless cuts. Chicken Farmers of Canada has worked with researchers at Trent University to find a way to address this challenge. The result is the successful development of a forensic DNA test that can verify whether a given product contains chicken, spent fowl or a combination of both. In this way, the chicken portion of even blended products, such as nuggets that may contain both broiler meat and spent fowl meat, can be subject to the appropriate import control. This test is quick and easy to administer, and provides a level of meat traceability that meets the forensic standards required for potential legal action. It is vital that this DNA test becomes part of the verification process to ensure the validity of spent fowl import certifications and put an end to the illegal smuggling of broiler meat once and for all.

 

 

 

April 19, 2016 - The annual Farm & Food Care Ontario conference and speakers’ program was held in Milton on April 13, with over 200 agriculture and food stakeholders attending the event.

Attendees listened to presentations given by Dr. Mike Von Massow, Associate Professor for the University of Guelph College of Business and Economics; Andy Vance, an expert in agricultural marketing, advertising and messaging, and Dr. Kevin Folta, a world-renowned biotechnology spokesperson and researcher at the University of Florida. These keynote speakers discussed how to build a conversation about food with a concerned public, and the role of personal stories in establishing a more productive dialogue on food and farming.

“Our research shows that consumers want and do trust farmers. Concern about farming practices are not demographic specific though - it’s growing across all groups,” said Dr. Massow. “The public want to hear from you, but a conversation can’t be two monologues. It’s important to listen and understand that [non-farming consumers] are concerned about doing the right thing.”

Andy Vance touched on the need to be transparent “in the right amount.” More specifically, Vance said the average consumer does not want to know everything, but they need to have a general idea of what farmers do in order to feel confident in what they are eating.

Dr. Folta addressed ways that farmers, researchers and other food stakeholders can effectively reach non-farming consumers, and simultaneously erode the influence of those who seek to “take tools away” from the agriculture community. He suggests those in agriculture “grab their own online real estate” by setting up a blog, reserving their name or farm name on twitter, and any other space where farmers can directly communicate with the public.

“We are seeing a battle between fear and fact – between the heart and the head – and heart always wins […] We are all consumers and we have stories that connect,” says Folta.

Conference attendees also had the opportunity to engage in a discussion panel featuring a chef, dietitian and local food store owner - Brad Watt of Peterborough, Jackie Fraser of Fergus and Carol Harrison of Toronto respectively. The panellists answered questions on their interactions with Canadian consumers, how social media plays a role in their careers and what communication methods bring them the most success.

The conference proved to be popular on social media as well. The Farm & Food Care Ontario twitter handle (@FarmFoodCareON) reached 200,100 other twitter accounts, with 378 mentions from 170 contributors. The conference’s hash-tag (#FFC16) had a reach of 218,400 – equivalent to 996 tweets from 294 contributors, or 41.5 tweets per hour).

The day was extremely successful. There was a great deal of excitement and positive sentiment expressed by attendees,” says Bruce Christie, a Farm & Food Care Ontario board member.

Farm & Food Care Ontario is a coalition of farmers, agriculture and food partners proactively working together to ensure public trust and confidence in food and farming. For more information visit www.farmfoodcareON.org.

 

April 15, 2016 - A $1 trillion coalition of 54 institutional investors has launched an engagement campaign with ten of the biggest US and UK restaurant chains, to call for an end to non-therapeutic use of antibiotics important to human health in their global meat and poultry supply chains.

The investors have written to ten companies and asked them to set appropriate timelines to prohibit the use of all medically important antibiotics in their global meat and poultry supply chains. READ MORE

 

 

March 24, 2016 - Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay and International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland announced today that Mexico has reopened its border to Canadian fresh poultry meat, including chicken, turkey and, most significant in terms of historical trade, duck meat.

Mexico closed its borders in 2004 following an outbreak of Avian Influenza. Canadian industry estimates that restored access to the Mexican market for fresh duck meat and other high-quality, fresh poultry meat will be worth approximately $3 million annually. While Mexico still maintains limited Avian Influenza restrictions, the Government of Canada is working with Mexican authorities to remove these as quickly as possible. This new market access comes on the heels of the February visit of Mexico’s Secretary of Agriculture, José Calzada, where he and Minister MacAulay met to further strengthen the two countries’ longstanding partnership in agricultural trade.

Canada and Mexico have a strong and complementary trading relationship with approximately $3.8 billion in bilateral trade in agriculture and food products in 2015. Canadian and Mexican government and industry officials plan to meet in Mexico in May, 2016 at the Canada-Mexico Partnership Agri-Business Working Group and the CanadaMexico Consultative Committee on Agriculture to further explore how to deepen their bilateral relationship.

“The Quebec Duck and Geese Breeders Association welcomes the recent agreement between the Governments of Canada and Mexico, which will soon enable Quebec producers to resume exports to Mexico after a 10-year embargo. This agreement will help to progressively regain the position lost in this rapidly growing market, with a potential for annual sales of more than $3 million,” said Benoit Cuchet, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Quebec Duck and Geese Breeders Association

February 3, 2016 - The Egg Industry Center (EIC) at Iowa State University will hold its 2016 Issues Forum in Chicago April 20-21. The Forum program is full of informational sessions and related events of interest to egg producers, processors and allied egg-industry groups.

The Egg Industry Issues Forum will start at 1 p.m. on April 20 at the Embassy Suites Chicago Downtown Magnificent Mile. The on-line registration system at www.eggindustrycenter.org is now accepting registrations, and the early-bird discount will end March 20.

For more information, stop by the EIC Booth #A401 at the International Production and Processing Expo or visit the center’s webpage. For other Forum questions contact Lesa Vold at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 515.294.4037. 

January 15, 2016 - U.S. poultry producers used a U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) hearing to both express support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and to highlight mixed experiences with past free trade agreement negotiations.

National Chicken Council President Mike Brown, on behalf of NCC and the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC), delivered testimony the morning of January 14 at a USITC hearing addressing the likely economic impact of the TPP on the U.S. poultry sector, should the deal be fully implemented.

The TPP is trade agreement between Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam. Negotiations concluded last November, and now the agreement must be ratified by each country and, in the U.S., debated and passed by Congress.

Both NCC and USAPEEC have supported TPP, continuing 30 years of unwavering support for free trade and trade liberalization initiatives. Though the U.S. poultry industry has been in support of free trade, the industry's experience with the results of free trade agreement negotiations has been mixed. During past negotiations, poultry has often been denominated a "sensitive product" and typically receives less-favorable access than other products.

Brown stressed that poultry once again faced mixed results in the TPP negotiations. "Our very frank assessment of the TPP provisions is that this agreement, on its current terms alone, will provide opportunity for moderate improvement for U.S. exports of poultry products in three of the 11 markets," Brown said.

A key point is the lack of meaningful increases in access for U.S. poultry to Canada. "While virtually all other commercial sectors have been able to play the NAFTA game for the past three decades, U.S. poultry has been relegated to the sidelines," he added. Under TPP, U.S. poultry's access to the Canadian market will only grow through small increases in quotas over a long period of time rather than truly free trade. "The TPP was the opportunity to correct a 30-year-old mistake, and very frankly, the results of this negotiation are disappointing in that regard," Brown told the commission.

Brown also took the opportunity to thank USTR for its tremendous effort on behalf of all agriculture; especially its work in developing improved sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) provisions. These could provide the initial boost needed to place more emphasis on SPS in all trade discussions.

As the 2015 outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in the U.S. showed, SPS barriers can cause great damage to trade. Though the HPAI detections were regional and contained, some trading partners placed bans on poultry from the entire United States for much longer than justified. During the first 10 months of 2015, unjustified non-tariff trade restrictions cost the poultry and egg industry over $3.3 billion in lost income.

Brown also pointed out key moderate improvements afforded through TPP. "Our assessment is that TPP will allow us to make some modest inroads in Japan and hopefully in Vietnam; but we do not believe the TPP, as currently negotiated, will provide our industry with any actual market access in Malaysia."

The United States exported $128 million of poultry and poultry products to Japan in 2014. Japan's tariffs are currently as high as 21.3 percent, or 48 yen per kilogram, whichever is greater (approximately 24.1 percent ad valorem equivalent). Under the TPP agreement, tariffs on all poultry, eggs, and egg products will be eliminated in six to 13 years.

The United States exported $92.7 million of poultry and poultry products to Vietnam in 2014. Vietnam's tariffs on poultry and poultry meat, currently as high as 40 percent, will be eliminated within 13 years. This includes tariffs on frozen chicken cuts and offal, which will be eliminated in 11 years.

Brown concluded, "We are wholeheartedly supporting TPP, as we did all the other free trade agreements and fully support passage and implementation by Congress."

Brown's full testimony as submitted to the USITC, which includes comments on turkey and egg exports, can be read here.

 

January 12 2016 - The North American Meat Institute (NAMI) has unveiled a new, comprehensive website, www.MyMeatUp.org, aimed at expanding transparency and increasing easily accessible information about meat and poultry cuts, cooking, nutrition, production practices and recipes for the largest, fastest-growing consumer group: millennials. While the website’s user-friendly platform will appeal to consumers of all demographic groups, the content is tailored to assist millennials—typically defined as individuals ages 18-35—to become more informed, confident consumers of meat and poultry.

“The MeatUp site is the first-of-its-kind resource that will equip the new generation of young adults and families with the knowledge and skills to make meat and poultry part of a healthy, balanced diet,” said NAMI President and CEO Barry Carpenter. “The website appeals to consumers’ appetite for transparency, debunks common meat myths and provides useful food safety, preparation, cooking and recipe tips.”

Consumers can use the site’s unique ‘Cuts of Meat’ feature to learn more about the most common meat cuts available at retail, and ways to prepare and cook those cuts to ensure quality and meet taste preferences. The website offers additional consumer-focused tools, including an overview of the most popular meat cooking methods, a cold storage chart to gauge product freshness, a scale to help determine meat doneness and a glossary of essential meat terms.

The visual site presents information in an easily digestible list format with issue pages titled, “Seven Nutrition Facts About Meat That Might Surprise You,” “Six Misconceptions About Antibiotics and Meat,” “Eleven Animal Welfare Guidelines, Strategies and Facts” and “ Six Reasons Why Meat is ‘Greener’ Than You Think.” The site, which is mobile-friendly, also offers numerous tasty, nutritious and convenient recipe ideas for beef, pork, veal, lamb and turkey that busy consumers can access from their mobile device while shopping.

In the future, NAMI plans to enhance the accessibility of MyMeatUp.org’s content by creating a MeatUp mobile app, which will allow consumers to more easily use the information as a guide when shopping for, and cooking, meat and poultry products.

“This site aptly combines content on pertinent industry issues with user-friendly, consumer-oriented information that will interest both meat novices and experts alike,” Carpenter said.

January 12, 2016 -  Granny’s Poultry is expanding its Blumenort, Manitoba processing facility and has received $2.5 million in funding from the federal and provincial governments to help support the project.

The company is implementing a plant expansion and renovation totalling $37 million, which will allow it to grow its business and purchase new equipment for processing, chilling, packaging and grading poultry, and improving production efficiency.

Granny’s Poultry distributes fresh and frozen Manitoba chicken and turkey across the country, and is one of the largest food processors in the province. currently represents 188 producer-member owners who supply the company with hatching eggs, chickens and turkeys. The company is the sole processor of turkeys in the province and employs approximately 500 Manitobans, supporting the livelihood of poultry producers, breeders and hatcheries.

Manitoba Agriculture, Food, and Rural, Development Minister Kostyshyn noted this investment also supports the Manitoba government’s goal of creating a $5.5 billion annual food processing industry by 2022, which is currently valued at $4.95 billion.

The expanded facility will provide an opportunity for up to 148 employees to upgrade their skills over the next two years through new training. Jobs and the Economy will further assist the $37 million plant upgrading through the provision of a secured, repayable Manitoba Industrial Opportunities Program (MIOP) term loan of $2.5 million. The MIOP program provides term loans to assist expanding businesses in Manitoba.

Craig Evans, CEO of Granny’s Poultry said in a release “the expansion and upgrading of our processing facilities will keep Granny’s growing and competitive for years to come.  Investing in state-of-the-art equipment will improve production efficiencies and help us develop new market opportunities for Manitoba poultry.”

The federal and provincial governments are investing $176 million of cost-shared programming in Manitoba under Growing Forward 2, a five-year, federal-provincial-territorial policy framework to advance the agriculture industry, helping producers and processors become more innovative and competitive in world markets.

The Growing Value program provides financial assistance to existing agri-businesses that need to make changes to adapt to market forces and environmental considerations, to increase their ability to compete in domestic and international markets.

December 18, 2015 - A potential trade war between Canada and the United States was all but averted today when Congress passed a massive spending bill that also repealed a controversial meat labelling law. 

The 2,000-plus pages of legislation contained a two-page rider that scrapped the U.S. labelling law, known as COOL, which had become a major irritant among Canada, Mexico and the U.S. 

The World Trade Organization granted Canada and Mexico the right to impose $1 billion in punitive tariffs on various U.S. products after finding that the country-of-origin labelling provisions 
violated international trade rules. 

International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland and Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay have said Canada was pressing Congress to scrap the provisions or face retaliatory tariffs. 

They were focusing on the Senate, where some Democrats supported the measures because of domestic political interests. 

Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, the Republican chair of the Senate's powerful agriculture committee, said Friday he was relieved that COOL had been repealed and that the bill would soon land on President Barack Obama's desk for signature. 

Roberts said the retaliatory measures would have been damaging to various sectors of the U.S. economy. 

"From the ranchers in Kansas to the jewelry makers on the East Coast, every state had something to lose from keeping mandatory COOL intact,'' Roberts said in a statement. 

"Those worries can now be put to rest, and I'm proud to say the Senate has voted to protect the American economy.'' 

The WTO ruling, the latest in a series that Canada won in the dispute, cleared the way for widespread retaliation. 

The targeted U.S. products included not only agricultural ones such as cattle, pork, apples, rice, maple syrup and wine, but extended to non-agricultural products, such as jewelry, office chairs, wooden furniture and mattresses. 

The lower half of Congress, the House of Representatives, had previously repealed COOL, but there is still opposition in the Senate, where some Democrats faced pressure from beef and pork farmers in their constituencies to fight for the protection from their Canadian competitors. 

Today, the Senate voted by a 65-33 margin to approve the massive bill that included $1.14 trillion in new spending in 2016 and $680 billion in tax cuts in the decade to come. 

 

On October 5, 2015 an agreement amongst the 12 countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was finally reached.

The supply-managed agricultural sectors in Canada had been concerned since Canada joined the TPP in October 2012 that demands to gain increased access to these sectors from participating countries would pose a significant threat to the supply management system.

Not so, says the federal government, who stated in a press release “despite significant and broad demands from several of our TPP negotiating partners, Canada has offered only limited new access for supply-managed products.” This access, which it says will be granted through quotas phased in over five years, amounts to a “small fraction” of Canada’s current annual production: 3.25 per cent for dairy, 2.3 per cent for eggs, 2.1 per cent for chicken, 2 per cent for turkey and 1.5 per cent for broiler hatching eggs.

To support supply-managed producers and processors throughout the implementation of the TPP and the Canada-EU Trade Agreement (CETA), the Government of Canada announced a series of new programs and initiatives that will allow the three pillars of the supply management system to remain protected under both systems.  These initiatives have been approved by Cabinet.

According to the federal government, the TPP will secure new market access opportunities for Canadian dairy, poultry and egg exports and that dairy, poultry and egg producers and processors will benefit over time from increased duty-free access to the United States and all other TPP countries.

To off-set the concessions it made to sign a TPP agreement, the Government of Canada said it will be providing new programs for dairy, chicken, turkey, egg and hatching egg producers as the implementation of the TPP proceeds.

Although when the TPP will come into effect is unknown at this time, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) will be working with the Farm Products Council of Canada to ensure that these programs are delivered to producers “in an effective and efficient manner.”

Income Guarantee Program
According to AAFC, this program will keep producers “whole” by providing 100 per cent income protection for 10 years. Income support assistance will continue on a tapered basis for an additional five years, for a total of 15 years. $2.4 billion is available for this program. Annual payments will be directly linked to the amount of quota a producer holds.

The Income Guarantee Program transfers with the sale of the quota, meaning that if the quota is sold at any point in the 15-year period, the remaining direct payments linked to that quota will transfer to the new quota holder. Annual payments will begin when TPP comes into force. The income guarantee payments will be calculated based on expected domestic production levels under conditions with TPP and the Canada-EU Trade Agreement in place.  A model will be used that takes into account detailed historic economic and farm level data, projected into the future.

Quota value Guarantee Program
The Quota Value Guarantee will come into effect once TPP comes into force. AAFC says this program will protect producers against reduction in quota value when the quota is sold following the implementation of TPP, and $1.5 billion has been set aside for this demand-driven program that will be in place for 10 years.

In addition to producer programs, the Government of Canada has also developed two programs to assist food processors within the supply-managed sectors.  These programs have been approved by Cabinet and will be phased in starting fiscal year 2015/16.

Processor modernization Program
This seven-year $450-million program will provide processors with support to increase competitiveness through capital investments and technical and management capacity. For-profit agri-food cooperatives and processors in the supply-managed sectors,including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are eligible to apply for this program.

The following activities are eligible for financial support: purchase and installation of new equipment; construction, renovation and expansion of facilities; hiring of required expertise to complete the project; development of new products/product lines; improvement of manufacturing processes; and collaborative partnerships for research.

Market development initiative
The Market Development Initiative provides new funding over five years to the AgriMarketing Program to help the supply-managed sector to maintain, develop and expand their Canadian and international market share. The Initiative will add $15 million of new funding to the AgriMarketing Program.

Not-for-profit organizations working on behalf of supply-managed producers and processors, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises in the supply-managed sector are eligible to apply for funding. The following activities are eligible: additional promotional campaigns and activities that position and differentiate Canadian supply-managed products; and marketing materials, events (e.g., attendance at trade shows) and research that supports the sale of Canadian supply-managed products. Eligible activities will be cost-shared on a 50/50 basis with industry.

While the Chicken Farmers of Canada (CFC), Turkey Farmers of Canada (TFC), Egg Farmers of Canada (EFC), the Canadian Hatching Egg Producers (CHEP) and the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council (CPEPC) expressed disappointment that additional access to the Canadian poultry market was granted in the TPP, all national groups recognized the economic importance of the trade deal to other agricultural sectors and industries and thanked the federal government for its support.  

Border control
In addition to program funding (worth $4.3-billion), the federal government stated that it will “intensify on-going anti-circumvention measures that will enhance border controls.” These measures include requiring certification for spent fowl, preventing importers from circumventing import quotas by adding sauce packets to chicken products, and excluding supply-managed products from the Government of Canada’s Duties Relief Program.

This is welcome news for CFC in particular.  CFC Chair Dave Janzen said in a release that fraudulent import practices have plagued the industry for over five years that have cost the chicken industry thousands of jobs, millions of kilograms in production, millions of dollars in revenues and millions of dollars in GDP contributions to the Canadian economy.  

“We are counting on the government to cease the practice of regularly issuing supplementary import allocations,” he said.

All of the national poultry associations have stated they will need additional time and analysis to fully understand the potential future impact of the TPP on their farms and the entire value chain, and that they will work with AAFC on the details of the agreement to ensure that the provisions agreed to do not jeopardize the Canadian Government’s commitment to maintain the integrity of the import control pillar of the supply management system.

 

 

 

December 2, 2015, Arthur, Ont. - Canarm AgSystems and Intelia have created a partnership to drive innovative new solutions for barn ventilation systems.

Canarm AgSystems is an Ontario-based manufacturer of ventilation, housing and technology solutions for barns. Intelia is a Quebec-based manufacturer of precision controls for livestock barns, especially poultry, hogs and dairy cattle.

The partnership was formed to merge the innovation power of the two companies for creating precision solutions for livestock as farmers demand more data-driven tools. The companies are integrating their technology to create new barn environment control options that they say will lower operating costs for farmers.  These products will launch in early 2016. 

As well, Canarm AgSystems and Intelia are committed to long-term, industry-leading customer service that farmers can rely on to keep their barns monitored and working efficiently.

Canarm AgSystems and its dealer network will now market Intelia’s controllers across Canada. Canarm and its dealers will also support previously marketed Intelia controllers.

 

Dec. 1, 2015 - Following several protests in the province, the Alberta government is amending Bill 6, the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act.

In a news release, Lori Sigurdson, Minister of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour, said: "We have listened to farmers and ranchers about the need for greater clarity. It has never been our government's intention to interfere with what family members, friends and neighbours have always done on the family farm. That's why we will amend Bill 6 to make clear what was our intention all along– that farm families would be exempt from those laws, which were designed to protect paid employees."

The proposed amendments would make clear that WCB coverage would be required only for paid employees, with an option for farmers to extend coverage to unpaid workers like family members, neighbours and friends; and make clear that Occupational Health and Safety standards apply when a farm employs one or more paid employees at any time of the year.

The news release states that ongoing consultations will help form the basis of regulations to be developed by 2017 to ensure the "unique workplace characteristics of farms and ranches are recognized." One session was held in Grande Prairie on November 26 and eight more are scheduled in December. Government is working with venues to increase capacity at each session to ensure more farmers and ranchers are able to attend and have their voices heard.

"We appreciate the concerns farmers and ranchers have raised," state Oneil Carlier, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, in the news release. "To be clear, Bill 6 is not in any way going to affect children doing their chores, participating in 4-H, or learning the family business. It does not prevent neighbours, relatives and friends from helping each other out during busy times. It does not apply to recreational activities such as riding horses or hunting on farmland. What Bill 6 does is bring Alberta farm and ranch safety standards in line with other provinces, and ensure that if a wage-earning employee is injured or killed on the job, that person and their family have the same access to financial supports as employees in other sectors."

 

 

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