Thursday, February 28, 2013

Small flock owner's blog

Glenn Black of Manitoulin Island has begun a blog for small-flock chicken farmers. .

Who runs supply management?

A veteran farmer phoned me today to tell me there is a court record outlining who really runs marketing boards in this province.

It's not the Ontario minister of agriculture and food.

It's not the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission.

The boards run themselves.

The farmer said it's in the court transcripts of a court case involving Georgian Bay milk producers who were producing milk for export in the belief that they did not need quota for export production, nor could the milk marketing board stop them.

They lost.

And during the trial, the lawyer for the government said the milk board tells the minister of agriculture (Helen Johns at that time) what to do, and she tells the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission what to do.

I am not in the least surprised.

How else can one explain the high-handed abuse of powers by the Ontario chicken and egg marketing boards?

Ah, but we now have a new agriculture minister who is also the premier.

There are more rural voters who hold no quota than those who do.

Will Kathleen Wynne have enough courage to insist that the chicken board supply CAMI International Poultry Inc. with 600,000 kilograms of chicken it took when it signed a no-trade deal with Quebec, and will she order a public inquiry into shenanigans at the egg board?

We shall see.

And if she fails to act? Well, maybe the Liberals will continue to denied electoral victories in rural ridings.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Quebec vetoes new chicken allocations

Quebec has voted against a proposal from Alberta and supported by Ontario to increase their allocations from the national agency to reflect provincial population changes.

Under the proposal, Alberta’s allocation would have increased by about four per cent and Ontario’s by about seven per cent, but Quebec’s would have declined.

The next round of allocations is due for decision when the Chicken Farmers of Canada meets in March.

The Quebec marketing board has contacted me to deny my report that Quebec has been requesting 2.5 million kilograms be moved from Ontario to Quebec to take account of historic production from the Ottawa Valley that has been marketed to processors in Quebec.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Black demands chicken board hearing

Glenn Black, a small-flock owner on Manitoulin Island, is asking the Chicken Farmers of Ontario marketing board to review its small-flock policies and his request that the maximum for non-quota holders be increased from 300 to 2,000 birds.

Progressive Farmers made the same request and was turned down by the board last year. President Sean McGivern says he plans to appeal to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food Appeal Tribunal.

Black is also requesting that his proposals, if the chicken board denies his request, be referred to the tribunal.

Black said the board’s response that it will consider his proposals when the small-flock program comes up for routine board review is not acceptable because that could be years away.

He said there is an urgent need to change the board’s policies so the Ontario public, especially in remote areas such as Northern Ontario, can gain access to locally-grown chicken.

Black is also proposing that OMAF relax its regulations so those with flocks of 300 birds or fewer can do their own on-farm processing. Those raising more than 300 birds could, he said, continue to take them to a government-licensed and inspected plant for processing.

Black wants chicken rules eased

Black has also written to Ontario Premier and Agriculture Minister Kathleen Wynne urging her to change rules to foster local production and processing.

He tells her that small-flock owners ought to be allowed to process their chickens on their farms and not have to meet the full nine yards of provincial regulations for meat-packing plants.

He says these on-farm operations could be subjected to reasonable food safety standards.

Black says if the chicken board allows flocks of more than 300 birds the owners could be required to have their processing done at a government-licensed and inspected packing plant.

He basically argues that if Wynne really wants to win back support from rural Ontario, she needs to pay attention to their desire to buy locally-produced foods from local farmers, including chicken.

The issue for Wynne boils down to courage to finally curb the abuses of power by the Chicken Farmers of Ontario marketing board. 

The small-flock issue pales in comparison with the board's stubborn refusal to supply enough chicken to CAMI International Poultry Inc. to fill the urgent demand for Hong-Kong dressed birds for the huge Asian community in the Greater Toronto area and the Muslim demand for hand-slaughtered Halal-protocol chicken.

Wynne told me she's not prepared to intervene in the CAMI situation because the chicken board is assessing the situation in connection with its new Specialty Markets program. 

That, Premier Wynne, is a blatant cop-out that leaves Jimmy Lee unfairly penalized by a defiant marketing-board ban on trade in live chickens between Ontario and Quebec. 

You have multiple reasons to intervene immediately, including a breach of inter-provincial trade agreements Ontario has signed, including breach of responsibility to ensure the marketing boards satisfy consumer demand and including a breach of basic fairness in exercising regulatory powers.

Wilmot Township to defend barn-use regs

I grew up in Wilmot Township when it was a far kinder, gentler community.

Today it's a hard-edged victim of aggressive bureaucrats and councillors too timid to rein them in.

The most recent example involves barn owners who would like to have friends over for a party.

Wilmot Township will face a hearing before the Ontario Fire Safety Commission in Kitchener on March 5 to determine whether it has exceeded its powers in regulating barn parties.

John and Kathie Jordan are at the centre of the hearing because they want to use their “centuries-old barn” about 15 kilometres west of Kitchener to host “private social gatherings, weddings and dinners.”

To do that, Wilmot Township says they need to change the building from a barn where they now have chickens and farm equipment as well as group gathering space and qualify it for “assembly occupancy”.

The township further wants to limit gatherings to no more than four per year.

John Jordan says the conversion would cost “upwards of $500,000” and would increase taxes by about $7,000 per year.

The Jordans hope many people will turn out for the hearing at the Holiday Inn on Fairway Road in Kitchener because they feel the ruling on this case will impact municipalities and barn owners across the province.

“This hearing, held with the Ontario Fire Safety Commission, shall determine if a private gathering in a private building requires a change of use to “assembly occupancy”,” the Jordans wrote in a news release.
“The consequences of the determination may be precedent-setting: currently gatherings such as weddings and concerts are permitted in barns in the adjacent townships of Wellesley and Perth, in addition to every one of the other 443 municipalities across the province.  
“Wilmot is the only township where inspection orders have been issued to private property owners about private functions in their rural buildings,” they say.
The Healing Barn near St. Agatha, about five kilometers west of Waterloo, was shut down as a venue for meetings of grieving people and Wilmot Township won a challenge that owner Carol Cressman-Foster filed with the Ontario Fire Safety Commission.
The owner of The Story Barn near Baden shut down meetings that had been held there for 24 years when Wilmot Township threatened legal action.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Pigeon King trial begins Nov. 4

Arlan Galbraith, the self-proclaimed Pigeon King, insists he will be defending himself without a lawyer when his jury trial begins in a new Kitchener courthouse Nov. 4.

He faces fraud charges after he declared bankruptcy for his Pigeon King International Inc. business in 2008. Investors later pushed him into personal bankruptcy.

He developed a business of selling breeding pairs of pigeons at inflated prices, but promising to buy offspring at prices that would make investors rich.

The business began to unravel when state officials in Iowa barred him from doing business there on the basis that his setup was a Ponzi scheme, meaning it could only survive as long as he could find new investors whose money was used to pay existing investors.

There were about $20 million worth of long-term contracts when Galbraith put the company into bankruptcy.

Galbraith insists there would be a steady stream of revenue when he built and operated pigeon-processing plants to market the birds as meat.

Facilities have been set aside for six to eight weeks for the trial.

No more money for biodiesel plants

The federal government says it’s not going to spend any more money on subsidies to build biodiesel plants, but will honour existing commitments that will cost the treasury $1 billion by the time the program expires in 2017.

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver sent a letter to the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association recently, denying their request to open the subsidy taps.

The government stopped taking applications in 2010, so will have about $500 million left in the funds it promised when he program expires.

It has spent $672 million so far, mainly to subsidize construction of ethanol distilleries.

The government is disappointed in the industry’s failure to take up the challenge to build enough biodiesel production capacity to meet the goal of two per cent biodiesel in diesel fuels.

Some of the plants that have been built are producing biodiesel that Canadian companies won’t use because of quality concerns, so that biodiesel is exported and Canadians are importing biodiesel to meet the two per cent mandate.

It’s likely that the biodiesel that’s exported is processed from raw materials such as restaurant grease and fat and discards from meat-packing plants. What the diesel blenders prefer is biodiesel processed from crops such as soybeans and canola.

The mandate for five per cent ethanol is being met with ease by existing distilleries. Some of them are shutting down because the corn and wheat they have been using as raw material have become too expensive, because there is more than enough ethanol on the North American market and because blenders have lost the incentives that existed a year ago to go beyond government-mandated minimums.

A number of planned biodiesel plants are on hold, including an Archer Daniel Midlands plant at Lloydminster, Alta., that could produce up to 265 million litres a year and a Great Lakes Biodiesel Inc. plant at St. Catharines, Ont., that applied for $65 million in federal subsidies.

Scott Thurlow, president of the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association, says there are enough plans ready to go if and when the federal government opens the subsidy taps, to meet the goal of 600 million litres of biodiesel per year.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Peanut Corp. faces 76 criminal charges

Peanut Corporation of America has been hit with 76 criminal charges such as shipment fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

The company was discovered to be in violation of multiple food-safety standards, including marketing peanut paste contaminated with E. coli bacteria that cause food poisoning.

The company supplied many other food companies, including Kellogg which recalled hundreds of products containing peanut paste from Peanut Corp.

The Justice Department alleges that Stewart Parnell, the former owner of Peanut Corp. of America, and other employees engaged in a multiyear conspiracy to hide the fact that many company products were tainted with salmonella.

Prosecutors said the company failed to notify its customers—including several national food companies—when independent lab tests revealed the presence of salmonella.

In some cases, company officials fabricated lab results, stating that peanut products were salmonella-free even when tests showed otherwise, or when no tests had been conducted at all, the department said.

Two years ago the company chief executive officer testified during a Congressional hearing that Peanut Corp. was audited by the American Institute of Baking (AIB) “the most commonly used auditor in the U.S” and received a SUPERIOR rating.

Maybe, after we get the report from a three-person panel on what happened at XL Foods Inc. of Brooks, Alta., our Canadian law enforcement system might find reason to lay some charges against the owners and managers of that business.

They have done a tremendous amount of damage to the reputation of Canadian beef, and put the livelihood of a lot of innocent farmers and plant employees at risk.

And, of course, the health and wellbeing of customers.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Premier ducks tough poultry questions

Premier and Ontario Agriculture Minister Kathleen Wynne ducked questions about the lack of chicken for CAMI International Poultry and requests for an inquiry into the Ontario egg industry during her first news conference with farm reporters today.

She said the CAMI situation is being addressed by a committee being set up by the Chicken Farmers of Ontario marketing board.

That committee, which she knew includes representation from the Ontario Independent Poultry Processors association and the Association of Ontario Chicken Processors, is to work on the details of a new “specialty products” program the chicken board announced last week.

It is to provide chicken for processors and/or farmers who can identify new markets or new products that will not “cannibalize” existing chicken markets.

CAMI lost 70 per cent of its chicken supply, about 600,000 kilograms per quota period, when the Ontario and Quebec marketing boards and large-scale processors made a deal to stop trade in live chickens across their border.

The loss threatens to bankrupt CAMI and leave its customers, including Asians who want Hong Kong dressed birds which have their feet and heads attached, and Muslims who want hand-slaughtered chickens processed under Halal standards, without a source of supply.

She said she’s not prepared to do anything right away to restore CAMI’s chicken supplies because “we need to let the process roll out,” meaning the new specialty products program.

CAMI owner Jimmy Lee has indicated he intends to file an application before the March 4 deadline.

At least two requests have been made for an inquiry into the egg industry, including allegations that there has been flagrant abuse of grading standards that impacts the revenues of the Egg Farmers of Ontario marketing board and of egg farmers.

Wynne said the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission “is in the process of making a decision” as to whether it will conduct an inquiry and “I have to let the process take its course.”

She also noted that some of the issues raised by those requesting an inquiry are the subject of legal action and therefore she won’t comment on them.

She was reminded that the commission has had requests for an inquiry for more than two years.

Wynne also said that if there is an inquiry, it will be conducted in secret “because the commission has requested confidentiality.”

Wynne confirmed that her top priority will be re-introduction of a bill to promote local food and said that after the legislature was prorogued, work has been done to “strengthen” the bill.

She said she wants “to raise the bar on awareness” of food that is local.

She said she’s aware of the importance of agricultural research “to the economy of the province” and said negotiations for a new agreement with the University of Guelph “are nearing finalization.”

Asked about the work load of being both premier and agriculture minister, she said “I’m going to be very busy,” but noted that the late Tom Kennedy was both premier and agriculture minister in 1948-49 and Grant Devine was Saskatchewan premier and agriculture minister.

She said she took the agriculture portfolio “because it’s important to have a focus on agriculture and food production in the province” and because she’s aware that many farmers and rural residents felt they were not getting enough attention at Queen’s Park.

She said she split the ministry because “we haven’t had a rural affairs strategy in the province for some time.”

She promised to look into drought-relief application concerns in the Renfrew area. Farmers are complaining that the application forms are too long and complicated – 10 paqes – and that the federal government is excluding dairy farmers from help through its contributions to the federal-provincial program.

She said she has asked to meet with federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz “but he’s going to be out of the country this week.”

She also said she wants to “simplify” farmers’ access to the provincial government so they can get answers by calling one place rather than dealing on various issues with 14 different ministries.
“I wish I could change it more quickly,” she said.

Wynne said she wants “more efficient access” so farmers will “know where to go” and to “eliminate multiple interactions with government.”

Chicken farmer blasts CFO

Glenn Black, a small-flock chicken farmer on Manitoulin Island, has sent a blistering letter of complaints about the chicken marketing board to the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission.

Black says small-flock owners market only 0.033 per cent of the chicken in Ontario, yet the Chicken Farmers of Ontario marketing board treats them like a threat to their market.

It also imposes unfair biosecurity standards, he says, arguing that the threat from diseases is far greater on a “mega farm” and “monoculture” operation.

He also notes that the marketing board had a seven-year cycle to audit its quota holders for compliance with food-safety protocols, recently reduced to a three-year cycle, but still, Black says, far short of standard industry practice of meeting standards, such as ISO, within one year.

He says the large farms also pose greater biosecurity risks because there are more industry specialists visiting their barns, there are shared resources and common sub-contractors each working at a number of different farms , and some of the largest operations involve “multiple staff members and distributed authority, jobs, and extended lines of communication, thereby lowering the probability of timely detection of biosecurity issues and disease outbreak.”

Black wrote the commission that “contrary to CFO’s concerns, it is the chicken production factories that place the small flocks at greatest risk, for many small flocks are just 1.6 k km away from these
disease powder kegs of the megafactory chicken producers.”

He says “CFO’s regulations, training, auditing, and enforcement action on these chicken
disease powder kegs of the quotabearing chicken production factories appears to
be diluted, delayed, glacially slow in its implementation, incomplete and mediocre.”

He also cites Canadian Food Inspection Agency data to complain that there is a far higher rate of condemnations for Ontario-grown chickens than in Atlantic Canada.

“Where is CFO’s sciencebased proof that the Ontariowide weighted level of current
compliance by small flock chicken farmers to accepted industry practices is more
hazardous that the Ontariowide weighted level of current compliance by quotabearing
mega chicken factory producers?”

He complains that Manitoulin Island is ignored by chicken board policies.

Were a quota holder to set up there, his chickens would have to be trucked hundreds of kilometers south to the nearest processing plant, then the processed chicken has to make it north again to satisfy local consumer demand.

This complaint is familiar to the commission because a Manitoulin-Island producer who runs a government-inspected and licensed packing plant was unable to get a break from the chicken board to produce fo the local market. He was told two years ago that he would need to buy quota from an existing producer and he said the prices made that an impossible business proposition.

But Black takes a different tack, arguing there are small-flock owners on Manitoulin Island and across Northern Ontario who are denied any vote or voice on marketing board policies and programs.

Because they are left out by the CFO, he argues that the commission ought to exempt them from marketing board controls.

If they are, however, to continue to be included under CFO controls, then the commission needs to insist that the CFO include them in its development of policies and programs.

Black complains that the small-flock chicken farmers can’t even get into the annual general meeting of the chicken board.

He argues that the chicken board has failed in its responsibilities to the public, especially the large segment of the population deemed relatively poor.

He says that as the cost of production and chicken prices have risen, so has the profit margin for producers. That, he argues, is not fair to the public.

He recommends that Ontario marketplace be divided into three categories – one for mega-farms, a second for smaller-scale operations and a third for imports.

He says allocations from the national agency ought to be shared between the two local producer categories according to their performance in meeting quality and food-safety standards.

In the event of a marketplace crisis, he says the category for imports could be shut down first before production cuts are required and imposed on the other categories.

A new general farm organization, Progressive Farmers of Ontario, has also taken up the issue of CFO treatment of small-flock owners.

The proposals it presented to the CFO have been rejected by the board of directors.

Sean McGivern, leader of that organization, has said they plan to file an appeal with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food Appeal Tribunal. So far no date for a hearing has shown up on the tribunal’s website listing of appeal hearings.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

CAMI fights for survival

WELLAND – Jimmie Lee, owner of CAMI International Poultry Inc., is fighting for business survival in a market where supply-management marketing boards have stacked the odds against him.

Not only are the marketing boards refusing to supply him with Canadian-grown chickens to fill orders from eager customers, including many Chinese and other immigrants in the Greater Toronto area who for religious and cultural reasons want his products, but they are now trying to block his access to imported chickens.

The Chicken Farmers of Ontario marketing board has refused to replace about 600,000 kilograms of live chicken he was buying from farmers in Quebec before the Ontario and Quebec marketing boards signed a deal to stop inter-provincial movement of live birds.

The Chicken Farmers of Canada, the national agency for provincial marketing boards, has blocked Lee’s application to buy birds from the United States because it says it can meet his needs.

However, the national agency is offering already-slaughtered birds which will not meet the specifications Lee’s customers demand. They want Hong Kong dressed birds which means they want the head and feet left on.

Nor do the already-slaughtered chickens meet a number of other customers’ specifications, such as roaster-weight birds that are air chilled, hand-slaughtered Halal-protocol slaughter for Muslims, etc.

Lee has filed a court challenge to gain the right to import chickens that the marketing boards are refusing to supply.

Because of the way the bureaucratic system works, his challenge is to a ruling by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, but DFAIT is acting on protocols outlined by an agreement with the supply-management system managers.

Lee has been successful with an application to DFAIT to participate in another program in which the national chicken agency has no right to interfere. That policy allows Canadians to import raw materials, do some processing in Canada, and then export the finished products.

That government policy is designed to exempt companies from import barriers, such as tariffs and quotas, so they can provide jobs and business for Canadians.

Lee has customers lined up in China, Hong Kong and Dubai.

As for his application for imports to make up for what the supply management system has taken away, "they are trying to make life difficult for us,” says a frustrated Lee.

In his quest for chickens, Lee has gone as far as Nova Scotia to buy a truckload of birds.

“How can marketing boards be so powerful that they can put people out of business?” Lee asks.

What’s more, Lee has broken no laws or marketing board regulations. He says he has no arguments with the concept of supply management to support farmers.

He “played by the rules,” says industry veteran John Slot who is a past chairman of Chicken Farmers of Ontario and director of Chicken Farmers of Canada. “He has done nothing wrong.”

But he knew long before Ontario and Quebec signed an agreement last year to stop inter-provincial trade that he was going to lose 70 per cent of his supply of chickens.

The Quebec and Ontario chicken boards and the two dominant associations representing chicken-processing plants indicated they would cut off out-of-province purchasing.

But their deal included provisions to replace the out-of-province birds they were buying with home-province birds. Except CAMI and one other Ontario processor.

That other processor threatened a lawsuit and the Ontario board and major processors, members of the Association of Ontario Chicken Processors (AOCP), settled out of court by supplying him with Ontario-grown chickens. 

That processor, I happen to have found out, is Cericola Farms. Cericola also became a member of the AOCP.

Lee neither sued nor joined the AOCP. He stuck with the Ontario Independent Chicken Processors association.

John Slot, who manages the OIPP, figures it’s his personal involvement that has engendered the determined opposition from the chicken marketing board and AOCP.

“They don’t like me,” says Slot. During public hearings before the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission, the AOCP spokesmen termed Slot "a disruptive force," but when challenged to provide backing for that claim, offered no evidence. Slot countered that he has a track record of working hard to co-operate with the marketing board to find policies and ways to ensure that Ontario processors and their clients can be fully supplied with Ontario-grown chickens.

Slot says personality clashes are no reason to persecute Lee and CAMI International Poultry Inc. “Jimmy is a really nice guy. He has done nothing wrong.”

Slot says it’s not only Lee who is being punished, but also his loyal customers.

He says it’s ludicrous that members of certain religious and ethnic communities in the Greater Toronto area, the largest multi-ethnic community in the world that is living in peace, are denied the right to buy the food they want.

He is issuing two challenges to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne who is also Ontario Agriculture Minister:

“First, I challenge her to explain how this has happened.

“Second, I challenge her to fix this problem. 
Do the right thing” by supplying CAMI with 600,000 kilograms of live chickens per six-week quota period “to replace the chickens that Chicken Farmers of Ontario and the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission (which supervises the chicken board) took away.”

And Slot is challenging Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Trade Minister Ed Fast to grant Lee’s request to import chickens to make up for what he has lost from his Quebec suppliers until Wynne resolves that situation. 

“I have always been in favour of supply management,” says Slot, “but supply management is not above the law. Lee legally bought chicken (from Quebec farmers) and paid his (marketing board) levies.

“This has gone far beyond a matter of supply management. What is being done here violates the Canadian constitution, it violates property rights, it’s not legal.”

And Slot is appealing over the head of marketing board leaders, asking chicken farmers to remember that David Fuller, the longest-serving chairman of the Chicken Farmers of Canada, often reminded chicken farmers that “supply management is a privilege, not a right.”

Eugene Whelan dies

Senator and former agriculture minister Eugene Whelan has died of complications following a stroke last summer. He was 88.

Whelan was the most popular agriculture minister Canada has had in several generations, famous for his green Stetson, outspoken opinions and folksy speeches.

He languished in the back benches of Parliament for 10 years after his first victory as a Liberal in Essex-Windsor in 1962. During the 1972 election campaign under Pierre Trudeau, he published his own agriculture policy platform that differed from the official Liberal Party platform and then-agriculture-minister H.A. (Bud) Olson, a relatively right-wing cattle rancher from Alberta.

Whelan was definitely left wing espousing policies that aligned closely with the New Democratic Party and the National Farmers Union.

Trudeau appointed him agriculture minister and gave him free rein, including patience to allow him to attack Beryl Plumtree after Trudeau appointed her head of his Food Prices Review Board.

That cemented Whelan’s popularity among farmers as he threatened to “chop down the Plumtree” and insisted that “food in Canada is a bargain” and that the public could “either pay me (high prices for food) now, or pay me later (if low prices drove farmers into bankruptcy).”

That bloom faded at the end of the 1970s when interest rates spiked and many farmers, especially the young and most aggressive entrepreneurs,  were bankrupted in 1980-82. Whelan had increased loan limits for young farmers, but then the federal government had to bail out the Farm Credit Corporation (now Farm Credit Canada) with about $2.5 billion to write off government loans to the crown corporation.

Whelan lost his cabinet post when Joe Clark’s conservatives took power in 1979, but he was back in 1980 and remained until he backed Jean Chretien for leader of the party in 1984, but John Turner was chosen. Turner tossed Whelan for Ralph Ferguson, an Ontario farmer.

Turner appointed Whelan ambassador to the World Food Programme in Rome, but Brian Mulroney, famous in a televised election debate for lecturing Turner that he had a choice to reject patronage appointments, swept into power and eliminated Whelan’s appointment. At the time, Whelan spurned offers of an appointment to the Senate; he felt it should be abolished.

He changed his mind when Chretien appointed him to the Senate in 1996.

Whelan is often wrongly credited for introducing national supply management. It came first to the dairy industry in the mid-1960s and it was Olson who introduced the legislation for national supply management for all other commodities in 1970 and got it passed before the 1972 election. 

Olson was no fan of supply management, but was convinced it was necessary to end a vicious inter-provincial “chicken and egg war”.

It fell to Whelan to defend supply management when the Canadian Egg Marketing Agency botched supply management, piling up surplus eggs that rotted in improper storage in 1974. 

He was agriculture minister when the turkey and broiler chicken industries got around to setting up national marketing agencies.

He was passionate about helping feed the world and his daughter, Susan, carried on that passion after she won election in the same riding of Essex-Windsor and was named to the cabinet post responsible for the Canadian International Development Agency.
Whelan served on the World Food Council.

He also hosted Mikhael Gorbachev when he was Russia's agriculture minister and before he became Russia's Prime Minister.

Among places Gorbachev visited was the Seagram-owned beef feedlot near Kitchener where the company fed cattle distiller's mash, a practice that has become widespread with the distillation of ethanol., although that mash is dried for easier transportation and handling.