Trade
April 21, 2017, Ottawa, Ontario - With Donald Trump ramping up his anti-Canada trade rhetoric, Justin Trudeau says the United States like other countries subsidizes its dairy and agriculture industries by hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars.

And the prime minister says he will continue to protect Canada's agriculture producers, including the supply management system, as he tries to engage in ''fact-based'' conversation with the U.S. administration on a variety of trade irritants.

''Let's not pretend we're in a global free market when it comes to agriculture,'' Trudeau said Thursday in a question-and-answer session with Bloomberg television that preceded Trump's latest trade invective.

''Every country protects, for good reason, its agricultural industries. And we have a supply management system that works very well here in Canada.... The Americans and other countries chose to subsidize to the tunes of hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions of dollars, their agriculture industries, including their dairy.''

He said the U.S. currently enjoys a $400-million dairy surplus with Canada.

''So it's not Canada that is a challenge here.''

Minutes later came the now-familiar sight of Trump in the Oval Office, followed by a pointed attack on Canadian trade practices and the impact on U.S. interests.

''Canada, what they've done to our dairy farm workers, is a disgrace. It's a disgrace,'' Trump said. ''Rules, regulations, different things have changed. And our farmers in Wisconsin and New York State are being put out of business.''

Trump was echoing and amplifying the complaints of Wisconsin and New York governors, who say Canada's decision to create a new lower-priced, classification of milk product has frozen U.S. producers out of the Canadian market.

Trudeau acknowledged the concerns of those two states, but said he didn't want to ''over-react.'' It was Trudeau's first comment since Trump first attacked the Canadian dairy industry on Tuesday at an event in Wisconsin.

Canada's ambassador to the United States, David MacNaughton, fired back at Trump's criticism on Tuesday by writing to the governors of those two states telling them that the plight of their farmers was not Canada's fault. He said it was caused by U.S. and global overproduction of milk.

''Any conversation around that starts with recognizing the facts. Now I understand how certain governors are speaking to certain constituencies on that. It's politics,'' Trudeau said.

''Different countries have different approaches and we're going to engage in a thoughtful fact-based conversation on how to move forward in a way that both protects our consumers and our agricultural producers.''
April 20, 2017, Ottawa, Onario - Conservative leadership candidate Maxime Bernier has welcomed U.S. Donald Trump's swipe at the Canadian dairy industry, saying that it's not just American farmers who are losing out.

Bernier says Canadians suffer more under supply management than Americans and if elected leader he promises to abolish the system.

On Tuesday, Trump targeted Canada explicitly in taking the next steps in his ''Buy American, Hire American'' policy, suggesting Wisconsin farmers are suffering because of the Canadian system.

Supply management has long vexed conservatives because it stands in sharp contrast to their belief in free markets, but most refuse to suggest dismantling the system as there is support for it in key constituencies.

Among them is Quebec, but that's not stopped Bernier from lashing out against the farms in his home province who are part of the system, making him the lone leadership contender to do so.

Bernier calls supply management a cartel, a phrase his competitor Erin O'Toole says turns farming families into nothing more than political props.

O'Toole says Bernier's policy demonstrates a lack of understand of agriculture and that the current system has nothing to do with any market specific issues in the United States.
April 17, 2017, Chicago, IL - Global outbreaks of bird flu in poultry have altered the flow of U.S. chicken meat, eggs and grain around the world, adding to challenges faced by domestic exporters and giving a leg up to Brazil, which has so far escaped the disease.

Different strains of avian flu have been detected across Asia, Europe, Africa and in the U.S. in recent months, leading to the culling of millions of birds and a flurry of import restrictions on eggs and chicken meat.

U.S. grain traders such as Bunge and Cargill have lost business because poultry deaths have reduced feed demand. Some domestic poultry producers, though, have managed to boost sales by taking advantage of trading bans that hurt rivals.

Sanderson Farms, the third-largest U.S. poultry producer, said it sold more chicken to Iraq when Baghdad backed away from Europe’s poultry due to bird flu, or avian influenza (AI), in the bloc.

Iraq imported 84.2 million kg of U.S. chicken meat last year, about three per cent of total U.S. chicken meat exports.

Data on chicken exports is not yet available for March, when the U.S. confirmed its first case of a highly lethal form of bird flu in commercial poultry in more than a year.

After the finding, South Korea, suffering its own worst-ever outbreak of bird flu, blocked U.S. poultry and eggs. That shut off opportunities for U.S. exporters hoping to make sales to cover shortfalls in South Korea, said Keithly Jones, a senior economist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Last month, USDA cut its forecast for 2017 U.S. egg exports by six per cent to 305 million dozen because of South Korea’s ban.

U.S. grain traders, who were grappling with a global supply glut before flocks in other countries were culled to contain bird flu, have faced lower demand for the corn and soybeans that provide feed for chickens.

Bunge, one of the world’s top grain and oilseed traders, told Reuters that shipments to South Korea for February and March declined “on the back of reduced feed productions.” Shipments have since been picking up, according to the company.

In March, Cargill said South Korea’s outbreak, in which about 35 million birds have been culled, contributed to a decrease in quarterly earnings in its global animal nutrition unit. READ MORE
April 11, 2017 - The Trump administration has taken its initial step in renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), sending the U.S. Congress a draft list of priorities for the negotiation.

The letter makes reference to a number of changes, including the specific mention of “opening Canada’s protections on dairy and poultry imports.”

The letter also touches on government procurement, tax policy, intellectual property, and rules of origin for things like car parts, telecommunications and dispute resolution. It also suggests a mechanism to impose tariffs if imports flood in and threaten U.S. industry.

The U.S. Congress will now be involved in revising the list. The administration will then issue a formal notice that it wants to renegotiate the deal and spend a minimum of 90 days consulting lawmakers and industry. Formal talks with Canada and Mexico could begin this summer or fall. READ MORE.
April 11, 2017, Guelph, Ont – The proposed Plant and Animal Health Strategy for Canada was drafted together by governments, industry and others who play a role in safeguarding plant and animal health.

The strategy will protect plants and animals from new and emerging risks by focusing efforts more on prevention and increasing partner collaboration and coordination.

You are invited to join the conversation this month and contribute your ideas on the draft strategy.

Read the draft strategy and provide your feedback through one of the following options:
To be successful, the strategy must be shaped by and reflect views of all partner groups. This consultation provides the opportunity for all stakeholders to have a say in the final contents of the strategy.

Please provide your comments by April 30, 2017.

Contact the Canadian Food Inspection Agency with questions about the Plant and Animal Health Strategy for Canada or to request the consultation documents in an alternative format:
  • Online
  • By email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • By phone: 1-800-442-2342 / 1-613-773-2342
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.

 

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

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