Business & Policy
From the Editor: September 2017
A powerful story to tell
By Brett Ruffell
I was determined to find a memorable way to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, being such a special milestone. What better venue to show my pride at than at the Toronto Blue Jays game, I thought. Luckily, my family and I were able to land some nice seats along the first baseline.
The party didn’t disappoint. (Though the home team getting trounced 7-1 dampened the mood a bit. Also, the Boston Red Sox wore Fourth of July uniforms on Canada Day for some reason – one player even warmed up in stars and stripes boxers. But I digress…)
I couldn’t help but feel patriotic watching dozens of Canadian soldiers unveil a massive version of our flag for the national anthem. But by far the most moving moment was watching a World War II vet rise from his wheelchair to throw the first pitch. Indeed, while the team came up short on the field, the organization did an excellent job of stirring up patriotism.
Now, Canadian Poultry and our colleagues at Annex Business Media are looking to do the same. We’re dedicating a week to honouring agriculture and farmer contributions to this country. Dubbed Ag150, every day for five days starting September 18 we’ll look back at the issues that have shaped Canadian farming, including poultry production, as well as what may lie ahead.
We’ll detail agriculture’s most significant milestones, profile some of our longest-standing barns, including a century-plus old egg operation that’s still thriving, and delve into scientific and technological advances that will shape production for years to come.
We’ll also have numerous leaders from across the spectrum reflect on their industry’s past, present and future as part of our coverage. On that note, one of the most informative discussions I’ve had during my time with Canadian Poultry was with Robin Horel, president at Canadian Poultry & Egg Processors Council.
As the leader of an organization representing members in all four commodity groups, including chickens, turkeys, eggs and hatching eggs, Horel has a unique grasp of the wide range of issues facing poultry as a whole. During our interview, the full version of which will be available here, he outlined the distinct issues each sector faces.
What’s more, Horel singled out the biggest challenge he sees all poultry groups sharing for years to come: aggressive animal activism. “They’re turning their attention away from communicating with consumers towards blackmailing customers and holding their brands for ransom,” he said.
Such tactics have been effective in convincing retailers and food service companies to adopt policies that Horel feels lack scientific backing. For instance, in his opinion demanding that egg producers go “cage-free” will do nothing to improve animal welfare, food safety or nutrition but will drive up costs.
That said, he sees a better way forward for poultry. “I think that industry’s got a good story to tell and it needs to revolve around sustainability,” he says, citing the push for slow growing broilers as an example. “You can produce a chicken that grows in double the amount of time a current chickens grows but to do that you’ll need twice as many resources, twice as many barns and almost twice as much feed… So I think our story is a good one.”
Be sure to visit Ag150.ca for our can’t-miss coverage – you’ll even have a chance to win an iPad!