Monday, August 21, 2017

Chicken production set to surge

The national agency for chicken is calling for a huge production increase this winter.

It has set the quota allocation for December and January seven per cent higher than last year.

For Jan. 21 to March 17, the increase is five per cent.

In accordance with a new market-sharing deal reached last year, the increases for Ontario are 7.9 and 5.7 per cent.

The Canadian chicken market is responding to shifting sources of supply and finding a new equilibrium,” says the Chicken Farmers of Ontario marketing board on its website.

The sharp reduction in ‘fowl’ imports experienced over the past year has created an increased demand which is now being filled by domestic chicken.”

After years of complaints from the national agency, the federal government finally cracked down on imports to determine that only fowl was being imported under that tariff-line category, and not broiler chicken which should be heavily taxed with import duties designed to protect supply management 

NAFTA talks open

Canada had 75 professional negotiators in Washington for the opening round of talks to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement.

They met in about a dozen different rooms tackling 27 subjects, but supply management was not aong them.
The hot-button issue for Canada was the United States insistence that the disputes-settling Chapter 19 of NAFTA be scrapped.
Canada threatened to walk out of the talks that led to NAFTA and at the last minute won its inclusion.
The Chapter 19 tribunals allow NAFTA countries to appeal each others' decisions to impose punitive import duties.

The panels have regularly ruled in Canada's favour on the long-running softwood lumber dispute with the United States, and Ottawa sees them as an indispTensable tool to guard against the U.S. imposing duties on Canadian goods.

Without the panels, such disputes would be settled in U.S. courts.
The talks will resume Sept. 1 to Sept. 5 in Mexico City.

The Globe and Mail reports that the negotiations are cordial.

Findlay says supply management “indefensible”

Martha Hall Findlay, the first elected Canadian politician to oppose supply management for the dairy and poultry industries and now president of the Canada West Foundation, says the system is “indefensible”.

In an opinion piece for the Globe and Mail, she says Canada is a big loser by sticking with the system – losing export opportunities, losing efficiencies and costing consumers higher food prices.

In recent years Australia, New Zealand – and yes, the United States – have either eliminated or drastically reduced dairy subsidies, and taken advantage of growing global opportunities for their dairy products – leaving Canadian dairy behind to stagnate, limited to our own small market,” she writes.

But what are we protecting? The small number of dairy farmers left in Canada are, on average, multimillionaires.

It's not surprising that they want – and spend a lot of money lobbying hard – to keep the system that has made them rich, but which costs consumers and most other parts of our economy. What we need are some politicians with courage.”

Findlay spoke out against supply management when she made a bid to become leader of the Liberal party.

She notes that the supporters of milk supply management say Canadian prices are not that high, but contradict that by saying they can’t compete against U.S. subsidies.

Her opinion piece appeared as negotiations for revamping the North American Free Trade Agreement began in Washington. 

Canada faces insistent U.S. demands that it revamp or scrap supply management, especially for milk.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Parent chosen for federal tribunal

Geneviève Parent has been appointed to a three-year term on the Canada Agricultural Review Tribunal.

The government said her choice was based on a “rigorous new approach to Governor in Council appointments—an approach that uses open, transparent and merit-based selection processes that strive for gender parity and reflect Canada’s diversity”.

Some American dairy farmers support supply management

There are some dairy farmers in the United States who like Canada’s supply management system and they are writing letters to the U.S. trade negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, urging him to lay off of the Canadians.

In one letter, the National Family Farm Coalition and Institute for Agricultural & Trade Policy told Lighthizer: "Do not pressure Canada to weaken its dairy supply management program.

“Undermining Canadian supply management will not bring a large increase in U.S. dairy exports.

“Supply management helps ensure that dairy prices are high enough to cover the cost of milk production and keep Canadian family dairy farmers in business."

The National Farmers Union wrote another letter that said: "Canada's pricing system on dairy has received substantial criticism from national dairy organizations and the Administration ... The U.S. should support other nations' sovereignty.

“In other words, the U.S. should not work to undermine a system that benefits family farmers on either side of the border."

"I would hate to go after a program that's protecting farmers, when that's really what farmers in the U.S. are asking," said Darin Von Ruden, who has a 50-cattle, multi-generational farm and heads the Wisconsin Farmers Union.

"Canada's supply-management program might not be perfect. But it certainly is doing a good enough job to make sure that those farmers, especially on the dairy side in Canada, can continue to stay in business and hand that farm on to the next generation."

These are minority opinions. The organization with the largest membership of U.S. dairy farmers is outspoken in its criticism of Canadian supply management and is lobbying Lighthizer to bargain hard to gain greater access to the Canadian market.

During the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, Canada was willing to offer a 3.25 per cent increase in access to the Canadian dairy market.

Lighthizer has also made it clear he wants Canada’s provincial milk marketing boards to scrap their new low-priced category for milk that’s processed to reduce water content. 
That pricing strategy was adopted to stem erosion of the Canadian farmers’ market for cheeses and similar products.

Wheat crop escapes fusarium

Despite damp weather, most of Ontario’s wheat harvest has escaped high levels of fusarium mould that can lead to vomitoxin challenges.

Albert Tenuda, plant pathologist at Ridgetown campus of the University of Guelph, says more farmers are using DONcast to decide whether and when to apply sprays to counter the mould.

“Producers are using crop rotation and making sure that they’re not planting winter wheat following a corn crop where the inoculum can be on the corn stubble,” said Jopanna Follings, cereals specialist for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

“They’re using (wheat) varieties with resistance or moderate resistance.”

Thursday, August 17, 2017

No more backroom deals on Food Guide

There will be no private backroom deals when it comes to writing the new Canada Food Guide, say officials at Health Canada.

They also say decisions will be based on the best science available, not less respected tests put forward by special interest organizations.

The process of writing a new Canada Food Guide has been fraught in the past by intense lobbying, including farm commodity associations both promoting and defending inclusion of their products.

The beef, pork, egg and milk associations have been on the defensive. The fresh fruits and vegetables associations have been gaining ground because they have had strong support from nutritionists and health advocates.

Health Canada said it will no longer be meeting privately with lobbying associations and commodity organizations.

What they have to say to the Food Guide writers will be said in public.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Doering outlines CFIA mandate

Ron Doering, the first president of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, says it has two chief mandates – to ensure food is safe for consumers and to promote Canada’s food industry.

He says they work together because when Canada can demonstrate that it has safe food, its global reputation is solid and companies are able to export.

He says that when he was recently invited to speak to a convention of food-industry people, they told him the CFIA no longer cares about promoting the industry.

Since it moved to Health Canada, inspectors seem to care only about food safety, he says they told him. He comments about this in a column he writes for Food In Canada.

Would that the CFIA actually did a good job of fulfilling its foremost mandate.

However, as we learned in a court case about a cheating veterinarian, thousands of fraudulent Holstein embryos moved into international markets, seriously tarnishing the Canadian industry.

And more recently, we read that the United States Department of Agriculture found “systemic failures” in Canada’s meat inspection system.

That’s the most serious shortcoming ever identified by American inspectors who have been checking Canadian meat-packing plants for at least 40 years.

And when Doering was president, the Americans were finding fault – confirmed by on-site Canadian inspectors – when they toured Canadian food plants.

The Canadian brass on those tours had to concede that what the Americans identified were, indeed, failures to comply with Canadian standards.

From my perspective, I think Health Canada may have finally put the priority for meat inspectors in the right place.

It’s up to the companies to develop their reputations.