Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Great Lakes Goat Dairy recalls cheese


Great Lakes Goat Dairy is recalling its Herb & Garlic Goat Cheese and its aged cheddar goat cheese because they might be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes food-poisoning bacteria.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency identified the hazard. It has had no reports of consumers falling ill.

The company is based in Wyoming.

Cossitt replaces Schwindt at pork council

Chris Cossitt has replaced Eric Schwindt as one of Ontario’s representatives at the Canadian Pork Council.

The executive was returned during the annual meeting recently held online.

Rick Bergmann from Manitoba is chairman, René Roy from Quebec is first vice-chairman and Doug Ahrens of Ontario is second vice-chairman.

Jack DeWit from British Columbia was re-elected as Treasurer.

“Representing our 7,000 Canadian pork producers at the national level is important and rewarding work, and I thank all the directors on the CPC Board for taking the time away from their farms to advance national files,” said Bergmann.

Heating truck trailers kills PED

Research in Saskatchewan has confirmed that heating trailers to 75 degrees for 20 minutes kills the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus.

Dr. Terry Fonstad, the Associate Dean Research and Partnerships with the University of Saskatchewan's College of Engineering, said that breakthrough has also inspired the development of new technologies to maximise the effectiveness of heating.

Now the research includes finding cheaper and better ways to heat the trailers and to develop better heat sensors so there are no cold spots.

The sensor research is being done by Transport Genie of Guelph.

Saskatchewan farmers can’t fill grain contracts

More than 75 per cent of 200 Saskatchewan farmers who have been surveyed said they are not able to fill grain contracts because drought devastated their crops this year.

The survey is being conducted by the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan and paints a bleak picture of farm finances.

Some farmers are facing penalties as high as $300,000 and interest rates as high as 19 per cent. Many face penalties of $20,000 to $30,000.

When they realized they were going to be short of grain, 25 per cent said they had difficulty reaching their contract buyers.

The survey revealed big differences among grain-buying companies and many farmers said they won’t be contracting again.

Province expands employer subsidies

The Enhanced Agri-food Workplace Protection Program (EAWPP) is expanding in both the maximums employers can garner and in work it covers.

The application deadline has also been extended to Feb. 1.

“The health and wellbeing of the workforce in the agri-food sector is, and always has been, a priority for our government,” said Ontario Agriculture Minister Lisa Thompson.

Eligible expenses for the 60 per cent cost-sharing cap will increase from $15,000 to $50,000 from $15,000 per farm.

“By expanding the funding and eligibility, the EAWPP is helping enhance health and safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace, keeping workers and employers protected, and ensuring Ontario’s food supply chain remains strong,” said Thompson.

The expanded eligibility covers food and beverage processors with three or more employees, agri-food industry organizations and associations, as well as poultry catchers, vaccinators and professional barn cleaners.

Susan Fitzgerald, executive director of the Poultry Service Association, said the group is pleased that the changes cover all poultry handling companies.

“Previously, the program specified chicken catching companies, which excluded other types of poultry catching and loading and also vaccinators,” said Fitzgerald. 

“Professional barn cleaners are another integral part of the poultry service sector, which were not included in the previous program.”

Gordon Stock, senior policy advisor with the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, said growers will welcome changes such claims for extraordinary costs related to the mandatory 14-day quarantine for workers that are now expanded back to April. 23.

“It’s welcome news that the programs are being opened up to include more costs,” Stock said.

 “It’s been a difficult fall, and it’s been challenging for farmers to find the time to do (applications) as the original deadline was Nov. 30, 2021.”

B.C. milk getting to market

Milk production across flood-stricken British Columbia is back to 90 per cent of normal, with more Fraser Valley dairy farms starting to operate as flood water has receded, said Agriculture Minister Lana Popham.

“Yesterday (Thursday) more than 1.5 million litres were picked up in the Lower Mainland,” Popham said. 

“This was due to better access to the Sumas Prairie.

"Multiple farms were being inspected and cleared for production. These volumes include the Okanagan and Kootenay farms. 

"That milk is being delivered to Alberta and there is sufficient supply for all.” Popham said.

The B.C. Cattlemen’s Association held a roundtable discussion with Popham and ministry staff Thursday, and ranchers outside the flood and landslide-affected areas are arranging feed supplies for Fraser Valley farms.

 With CP Rail returning to work and Highway 1 open as far north as Hope, grain is moving again, particularly red wheat to restart flour mills, Popham said.

Poultry farms lost thousands of birds, and barns are being cleaned and disinfected as flooding permits. 

Popham said with Highway 1 open, more people are coming through, and she appealed for privacy as farmers deal with the destruction.

Monday, November 29, 2021

France has avian flu

France has detected a highly pathogenic bird flu virus on a poultry farm in the north of the country prompting a cull and a quarantine zone.

The authorities, which said they had yet to identify the strain.

The outbreak followed several outbreaks among poultry farms in Europe and Asia in recent weeks in a sign the virus is once again spreading quickly.

France detected the virus in wild birds and backyard flocks so the government ordered all poultry flocks to be kept indoors.

A massive wave of the virus last winter led the authorities to cull more than million ducks in its southwestern duck-breeding region known for production of foie gras pate.

Feds announce spud working group

Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau is responding to the crisis in the Prince Edward Island potato industry by proposing a working group to plan strategies.

The United States Department of Agriculture pressured Canada over the detection of potato wart on Prince Edward Island and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency banned exports to the United States.

That abruptly ended shipments of about $400 million a year and immediately backed up potatoes that were destined for clients in the United States. The provincial potato board and PEI’s premier and agriculture minister reacted in anger.

They pointed to an ongoing surveillance and quarantine program that seemed to have the disease under control, measures that previously had proven acceptable to the United States. 

But U.S. potato growers lobbied their government to stop imports from Canada.

The Working Group brings together the full value-chain of the PEI potato sector to exchange information, develop strategies to determine and help mitigate impacts of potato wart on the sector, and identify potential short and long-term solutions to current trade disruptions, the Canadian government said.

The membership includes representatives from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and Global Affairs Canada, as well as representatives from the government of Prince Edward Island, the PEI Potato Board, PEI seed and fresh potato growers, and key potato processors.


During the meeting, the CFIA outlined the steps it is taking to gather the scientific evidence needed to assure its U.S. counterpart agency, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), of the safety of trade of table and processing potatoes.


The CFIA is aiming to conduct another round of technical discussions with APHIS next week.


The working group will continue to meet to assess the impacts on PEI potato farmers and those along the value chain and is expected to examine all options to find end-point destinations for the sale and further processing of the existing stock of potatoes in PEI and other measures to support affected farmers. 

Bibeau plans to attend the meeting today.




Oregano touted as piglet protection

Anpario, developer of the natural oregano essential oil Orego-Stim, said that trials at a commercial hog farm in Greece showed that its product could be used to reduce the use of antibiotics at weaning. 

Results of the independent study revealed that piglets fed with the supplements recorded improved survivability and growth performance, as well as reduced numbers of positive faecal E. coli counts, the company said.

Heidi Hall, Anpario swine expert and global technical service manager said “antibiotics remain essential in treating disease within the herd. However, with the risk of selecting for the development of antimicrobial resistance, it is important not to overuse antibiotics to ensure we safeguard their efficacy for future use.” 

New wild boar sightings near Pickering

More sightings and videos of a herd of about 14 wild boar pigs near Pickering have prompted the provincial government to get involved.

The Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Natural Resources and Forestry said it is trying to trap and remove them.

They are on and near land that the government expropriated decades ago for an airport that has yet to be built.

“A sounder of wild pigs typically consists of one or several related females and their offspring,” said Erin Koen, a research scientist in the ministry’s Wildlife Research and Monitoring section.

“There appear to be young pigs in the group in the Pickering area, but we can’t yet confirm their ages or relationships. We don’t have any reason to believe at this time that any of these animals were born in the wild.”

As part of a strategy aimed at avoiding the environmental damage and crop losses suffered in other jurisdictions, the department has developed a collaborative effort to track wild pigs in Ontario and prevent the establishment of feral breeding populations.

It has also declared them a banned species and informed those farming them that they have deadlines to get rid of them.

Mary Delaney said her husband screamed and ran into the house after he encountered wild boars rooting in an area where they had planted about 200 garlic bulbs.

Delaney was already on the lookout because provincial staff went door-to-door in the area Nov. 6 to alert area residents. Her sighting happened Nov. 8. After alerting officials, she drove north into the Pickering Lands to speak with two farmers she knew were harvesting inside the Transport Canada-owned land.

“I talked to the farmers, I turned around and drove back down the same side road I had just come up. And there (the wild pigs) were,” she said. “I ended up getting lots of pictures and some videos because they didn’t seem at all concerned about me.”




Dairy farmers will face greater scrutiny

Jacques Lefebre, head of Dairy Farmers of Canada, is warning dairy farmers that they will be facing greater scrutiny from a critical public.

He told the annual meeting of Alberta’s dairy farmers that animal care is an issue that is a “hot topic these days”.

Cedar Valley Farms in Abbotsford, B.C., attracted national media attention after a video was submitted to the B.C. SPCA that allegedly included cows being beaten by objects such as wrenches.

It’s in that context of increased critical public scrutiny that the board of directors is awaiting the report from a working group on sustainability, he said.

“Based on its work, our board will soon consider robust yet realistic sustainability objectives and targets for our industry,” he said. “This will send a clear message that when it comes to environmental stewardship, dairy farmers mean business.”

There is also a strong emphasis on climate change mitigation in the DFC’s next five-year research strategy, he said.

“First, we want to educate consumers, in particular millennials and Gen Zs, but also decision makers. We want to educate them on the good work that has and continues to happen on your farms.

“Second, we’re addressing our plan to continue to contribute to efforts in supporting sustainability. And finally, we’re working to debunk the myths and misconceptions about dairy, and we’re doing it head on.”

Lefebvre also highlighted the DFC’s expert working group on butter, which is looking at the use of cattle feed supplements containing palm byproducts.

Media coverage early this year outlined how butter was potentially becoming harder to melt due to such supplements.

“Given the concerns raised by consumers, this was an important step to maintain public confidence in the dairy sector,” he said.

“The working group will be publishing its final report in the near future, which could prompt some renewed public interest in this issue, and I want you to be rest assured that we’re prepared for it.”

Friday, November 26, 2021

Swine fever continues spread in Europe

African Swine Fever continues to spread in Europe.

Germany has reported the virus hit 4,000-head market hog farm in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania and the herd has been culled.

 It is the first to be registered outside of the Brandenburg province, where previous cases were linked to wild boar and domestic pigs in 2020 and 2021. 

German officials have launched an epidemiological investigation to determine ASF entry into the region and source of the outbreak.

According to the European Commission, as of mid-November 2021 there have been 1,727 ASF outbreaks affecting domestic The European Commission also reported nearly 10,500 ASF outbreaks have been linked to wild boar across 12 EU states. 

In October and November, EU countries reporting new or recurring ASF cases include Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Ukraine.

According to the most recent reports to the World Organisation for Animal Health, Romania registered 25 new or recurring ASF outbreaks in domestic pigs, including one commercial farm housing 62,000 pigs. 

Ukraine registered one virus-positive non-farm domestic pig and one ASF-infected wild boar in a region previously cleared.



Plant-based foods popular, says ADM

ADM has released its second annual report on food trends and lists the increasing popularity of plant-based proteins as one of them.

The list is:

  • Nourishment for the whole self — a pandemic-induced focus on a balanced approach to diet and lifestyle. ADM’s research found that 37 per cent of global consumers expect the snacks they eat to improve their mental well-being.

  • Plant-based lifestyles — more mainstream consumers believe plant-based nutrition is a path to healthier, environmentally friendlier lifestyles.

  • Microbiome as the root of wellness — ADM’s research indicates that 58 per cent of global consumers are aware of the potential benefits that bacteria in the digestive system can have on their overall health, and are looking for foods, beverages and supplements that support gut health and overall well-being.

  • Clean, transparent sourcing — consumers want their foodstuffs to consist of “real, kitchen-level ingredients.

  • Humanization of pets — the trend of considering the four-legged as another member of the family only strengthened during pandemic lockdowns. ADM’s research found that 30 per cent of pet owners globally spent a significant amount of time researching the best food options in the last year.

  • Precise, responsible animal feeding — growing consumer awareness of what went into their food sources is driving brands to begin providing digital documentation explaining how the animal was raised, particularly related to its consumption of antibiotics and/or growth hormones.

  • Sustainability — consumers see sustainability as a moral imperative as they connect it to what is right and ethical, their community and the environment.

  • Advanced renewables and biosolutions — consumers want to see that the companies that make their food products understand the importance of using less packaging and creataing less physical waste.

ADM compiled its trends in part based on in-depth research from its own proprietary Outside Voice consumer insights platform.



Europe approves locusts as food

The European Commission has approved the sale of the migratory locust as a human food, but it’s not yet clear who applied for permission. 

The approval covers frozen, dried and powder forms of migratory locust. It is intended to be marketed as a snack or as a food ingredient in a number of food products, the agency said.

“The Novel Food Regulation is only about the approval of a product, following a stringent scientific assessment made by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA),” the EC document explained. “

The Authority verifies, in light of the scientific evidence available, that the food does not pose a safety risk to human health.”

The investigation was kicked off by an unnamed food operator, who had requested authorization to put the food product on the market in the European Union.

As part of the authorization, the Commission determined that eating the locusts may potentially lead to allergic reactions, so it has mandated labelling caution.

Second lawsuit filed against A2 Milk

A second class-action lawsuit has been filed against A2 Milk claiming the Australian company misled investors before reporting much-reduced sales.

Those holding company shares saw their value slump by more than 60 per cent.

Shine legal company filed the lawsuit in the Victorian Supreme Court on Tuesday.

The company countered that it “considers that it has at all times complied with its disclosure obligations, denies any liability and will vigorously defend the proceedings.” 

Shine Lawyers class action practice leader Craig Allsopp said investors who bought shares between August 19, 2020, and May 7, 2021, had a right to recover their losses.

The claim alleges that A2 Milk had predicted its baby formula would have a high sales performance in financial year 2021 and would contribute to a 30 per cent boost to its earnings.

But the forecast was misleading, Mr Allsopp said.

A2 Milk ended up with a pile of stale inventory that it scrapped. The main reason for the change in fortunes was failure to realize anticipated sales to China.



Cargill workers reject company offer

Workers at the Cargill beef-packing plant at High River, Alberta, have voted 98 per cent to reject the company’s offer of a new contract.

But negotiations with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 401 will continue and company spokesman Daniel Sullivan said Cargill hopes to avoid a strike. The deadline is Dec.6.

"We are willing to keep meeting to avoid any labor disruption, which is in no one's best interest during an already challenging time," Sullivan said.

The plant is Canada’s largest and processes about a third of Canada’s beef.

One of the workers main concerns is safety from COVID-19. The plant had the largest outbreak of the virus of any Canadian company last year.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Préval buying American company

Préval AG of Quebec has acquired the assets of J&G Foods of Sutton Massachusetts.

J&G is a custom and specialty case-ready fresh meat provider specializing in quality, portioned organic and grass-fed beef, organic and natural chicken, natural pork and beef, and a variety of marinated and value-added meats. 

Préval AG is owned and operated by the Quebec-based Fontaine family and controls food production “from farm to fork”. The agri-company generates more than $720 million in sales and employs more than 1400 in Canada, the U.S. and South America.

Fabien Fontaine, Préval AG president and founder, said “we are excited to add what is now J&G 2021 to our diversified family of companies.”

Préval A has six other meat companies, including Montpak International in Canada and Catelli Brothers in the U.S. that provide veal, lamb and beef processing and packaging to retail and food service customers throughout the Americas.

 The current J&G Foods president Bill Leva becomes chief executive officer and will continue to lead J&G 2021, along with the current management team. 

Tony Catelli, president and chief executive officer of Catelli Brothers, will also be president of J&G 2021 and manage Préval AG’s entire U.S. meat operations.

Préval AG is an agri-food company with 37 subsidiaries whose activities include animal husbandry and abattoir operations for veal, beef and lamb, transportation and meat processing, as well as large-scale crop and horticulture production and grain processing.

Headquartered in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, Préval AG currently has more than 1400 employees in Canada, the United States and South America. 





Farmers helping B.C. farmers

Kayleen Knittel, whose parents operate the Davison Farms, has launched a GoFund Me to help the dairy farms and has already ended up raising more than $28,000. 

“The farmers are working tirelessly on get their animals out of the deep water and to higher elevation. There is a lot of hard work ahead and funds are desperately needed to support the farmers and their families as they continue to care for their beloved animals,” said Knittel, whose farm is near Maple Ridge, B.C.

All contributions raised through the GoFund Me, will go to BC Dairy Association for distribution to farms in need. 

“Thank you for all who have donated, please continue to share this GFM and pray for everyone affected. I will keep you updated as much as possible,” said Knittel.

Lactalis, Loblaws spar over dairy prices

It appears there will be tense negotiations between Loblaws, the nation’s largest supermarket company, and Lactalis Canada Inc. which markets Beatrice milks, Astro yogourt and Black Diamond cheeses.

Lactalis announced it will be increasing dairy prices by up to 15 per cent, partly because of milk price increases that the farmers’ marketing boards will soon be implementing.

But Loblaws chief financial officer said it will be working hard to hold suppliers’ prices down.

Lactalis Canada Inc., which is owned by a multinational company based in France, said the price increases are necessary because labour, ingredients, packaging and transportation costs have all risen.

And Lactalis Canada’s chief executive Mark Taylor said the price increases are “non-negotiable”.

The Canadian Dairy Commission (CDC), which establishes the “farm-gate” price under the national supply management system, last month announced an historic 8.4 per cent increase for milk and 12.4 per cent for butter. 

Mathieu Frigon, chief executive of the Dairy Processors Association of Canada, said inflation rates on dairy products have stayed substantially lower than overall food inflation over the past decade as dairy companies have worked to absorb rising input costs through efficiencies and narrowing margins. But all the cost increases can’t be absorbed.


Gary Sands, senior vice-president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers, said smaller retailers — which are also experiencing upticks in labour, energy and transport costs — won’t be able to absorb all the increases.

“Retail will have to pass this cost on. There’s just no doubt about that,” he said. “It’s the retailer who’s left holding the bag of milk explaining to the customer why prices went up 15 per cent.”

The Retail Council of Canada, a trade association representing the big grocers, said “price surges of such a large degree are particularly concerning given that dairy products are essential for Canadian families,” but it’s up to the grocers to decide how much of the increase to pass onto consumers.

Richard Dufresne, chief financial officer of Loblaw Cos. Ltd., said the supermarket chain has “a thorough process to vet pricing requests” from suppliers.

“We work hard to negotiate those increases down so that we offer our customers the best value,” he said on an earnings call Wednesday.




Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Senator Warren wants chicken processors probed

Senator Elizabeth Warren, who was a contender for the nomination as Democratic Party nominee for president, is calling on the Department of Justice to launch a probe into the large chicken processing companies.

She said chicken prices have risen by 24 per cent this year and she wants the department to investigate anti-competitive behaviour by the large companies.

In a letter to Jonathan Kanter, assistant attorney general of the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ), Warren accused the nation’s dominant poultry companies of conducting “schemes to eliminate small competitors while raising prices for consumers, cutting pay for American farmers and reporting massive profits.” 

The letter cited JBS Foods, Perdue Farms, Sanderson Farms and Tyson Foods as controlling 54 per of the U.S. poultry market, allowing the major processors to take advantage of their ability as suppliers to “jack up prices” of the goods they sell, she added.

Significantly missing from her list was Koch Foods, which is close to as large as the other four.

The letter noted that the companies all posted double-digit sales and profit increases so far this fiscal year, while also citing National Chicken Farmers data that the pay scale for U.S. chicken farmers has declined by more than six per cent since 1988. 

Warren wants a “broad investigation of price-fixing, wage fixing and consolidation in the poultry industry on consumers and farmers” by Dec. 20. 

The four companies — all accused in recent lawsuits alleging conspiracies to fix poultry prices, with several of them settling the suits — have not yet to responded to her request.

Beef farmers not sharing in price increases

Although costs ranging from feed to fuel "are going through the roof," producers aren't seeing any increases in cattle prices, said Melanie Wowk, chair of Alberta Beef Producers.

She pointed to JBS and Cargill which have 80 per cent market share in Alberta and questioned why there is such a wide spread between cattle and beef prices.

Wouk said "what's going to end up happening is this is just going to put more and more people out of business and shrink our cattle herd even more in Canada."

The sector was hard hit by heat waves and drought that affected much of Western Canada this summer, causing shortages of feed that forced many producers to downsize their herds.

Wowk said retail beef prices have doubled since the COVID-19 pandemic began, citing $9-per-pound hamburger at a Co-op store in northeastern Alberta compared with $3 to $5 before the pandemic.

She wants to know that farmers are not behind the increases.

Cargill said in a statement Nov. 22 that current prices in the beef market are ultimately the result of supply and demand.

"In part due to a shortage of labour, the industry is not currently able to process as many cattle as ranchers are able to produce. 

“This, when combined with other backups of cattle due to COVID/weather events, plus an increase in demand for beef, accounts for the disconnect between live cattle prices and wholesale beef prices."

Matters could become worse because Cargill’s workers have given their contract negotiators a strike mandate.




CP rail line to Vancouver opens

Canadian Pacific Railway said its line from Kamloops to Vancouver is back open today after repairs at 30 locations.

Heavy rain and mudslides created blockages, ending rail transportation for exports such as grain and imports.

CP workers’ “dedication, grit and perseverance in the face of extremely challenging conditions are the reasons we are able to restore our vital rail network in only eight days,” said chief executive officer Keith Creel.

CP said its repair crews have moved 150,000 cubic yards of earth and rock to rebuild damaged areas and that it deployed “hundreds” of CP employees and contractors to assist.

The next 10 days will be “critical,” Creel added. “As we move from response to recovery to full service resumption, our focus will be on working with customers to get the supply chain back in sync.”

Canadian National Railway has not said when it might re-open its lines.

CN spokesperson Jonathan Abecassis said there were four points on what the company calls the Squamish subdivision that had been impacted by landslides, washouts and “other things.”

“The track is not passable this time,” he said. “The whole subdivision is closed.”




Monday, November 22, 2021

JBS settles another lawsuit

A federal judge in Minneapolis approved a plan allowing JBS USA to pay $12.75 million to settle a lawsuit filed by restaurants and retailers that accused the processor of conspiring to fix pork prices since Jan. 1, 2009.

The new settlement is in addition to a previous $20-million settlement JBS reached with indirect buyers such as restaurants and delis over price-fixing pork products through to April 2, 2021.

The new agreement releases and discharges JBS USA and bars all the plaintiffs in the case from launching or continuing legal action against the company.

Just more lawyers getting rich!

P.E.I. spuds banned from U.S.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has banned potato exports from Prince Edward Island to the United States, angering Island Premier Dennis King.

He said the ban is not based on science and said in a conversation with federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau, she could not say when the ban could be lifted.

He said she had no answer because the ban is not based on science.

The CFIA apparently acted on complaints from the U.S. government which was reacting to a lobby by U.S. potato growers.

They point to the existence of potato wart on isolated patches of P.E.I. potato farms.

The government and the CFIA have had measures in place for two years to control and monitor the situation.

In a news conference Monday, potato board officials and King said potato wart has been identified this year on two locations, both of them on sites that were under surveillance.

King said the province’s potato growers had an excellent yield of high-quality potatoes this year and the ban is devastating news.

Migrant worker case begins

The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal is beginning a hearing this week into complaints that migrant workers in Elgin County were racially profiled during an Ontario Provincial Police investigation into rape.

The raped woman said she believed her attacker was a migrant worker and Henry Cooper, a migrant worker from Trinidad and Tobago eventually pleaded guilty.

But the police collected DNA samples from 96 black and brown farm workers at five or more farms. At one farm, the owner told workers they would not be invited back if they refused to submit a sample for DNA analysis.

Lawyer Shane Martínez, who is representing the migrant workers pro bono, said most workers who were swabbed did not fit the physical description of the suspect except for the colour of their skin.

"Workers were West Indian, workers were black from Jamaica, workers with long dreadlocks, ones who were bald — one worker had gold teeth," Martínez said. "They were as diverse a group as you could potentially imagine."

"When they tried to provide explanations as to [where they were] and they provided alibis, the police completely disregarded those and wanted nothing more than to collect their DNA because of how they looked."


A class-action lawsuit on behalf of anyone whose DNA was taken by the OPP in relation to these types of investigations has also been certified.

The lawsuit alleges the Centre of Forensic Sciences has retained DNA profiles in a database, even though the material gathered did not match that of the suspect in the criminal investigation.

Although the 2016 independent police review states that all of the migrant workers' samples were destroyed in 2014, a spokesperson for Justicia for Migrant Workers says the workers don't have faith the samples and their profiles are gone — and were never made aware their DNA profiles would be entered into a database. 


"These are widespread issues of privacy, of privacy infringement, of racial injustice that I think all of us in the community need to be concerned [about]," said Chris Ramsaroop. This is a systemic practice and policing that's flawed."

According to Justicia for Migrant Workers, the case is the first human rights hearing of its kind in Canada to examine allegations of systemic racial profiling and discrimination by the police of migrant farmworkers.