Saturday, September 23, 2017

Van Bommel appointed chair of veggie board

Suzanne Van Bommel is the choice of Ontario Agriculture Minister Jeff Leal to chair the Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers Marketing Board for the next two years.

She is a former chief of staff for a previous Ontario agriculture minister, she is part owner of HAR MAR farms, manages a 560-acre cash crop business producing corn, soybeans and peas, a hog finishing business and is president of GPS Group, a public relations and issues management company serving agriculture companies and the provincial government.

The government took control of the marketing board earlier this year, dismissing the directors farmers elected and installing former agriculture minister Jeff Buchanan to chair the board and negotiate contracts for this growing season.

Buchanan is also vice-chairman of the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Council which supervises marketing boards.

There are farmers who are not happy about what has happened and they continue to lobby for changes.

Van Bommel will have a board of directors that includes four appointed by the government and four that will be elected. The eight directors will eventually all be elected by farmers to two-year terms with half of the directors elected each year.

Friday, September 22, 2017

U.S. produces record meat volume

The United States produced a monthly record volume of meat this August - a total of 4.63 billion pounds.

That’s four per cent more than last August. Production for the first eight months of this year is also up by four per cent from last year.

Beef production, at 2.4 billion pounds, was up by six per cent in August, cattle slaughter at 2.94 million head was up by seven per cent and average carcass weight declined by seven pounds from a record set the year before at 1,345 pounds.

Veal production totalled 6.4 million pounds, five per cent more than last August, and calf slaughter increased by 13 per cent to 46,200 head. The average live weight declined by 17 pounds from last year to 238 pounds.

Pork production totalled 2.21 billion pounds, up by three percent from last August, and matched the increase in the number of hogs slaughtered – up by three per cent to 10.7 million head. The average live weight increased by two pounds to 278 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 12.8 million pounds, was up by two per cent from the slaughter of 194,100 head, which is about the same as a year earlier. Average live weight was 132 pounds, up by two pounds from last August.

Tim’s hostilities escalate

 Daniel Schwartz, chief executive officer of Restaurant Brands International Inc., told an internal Tim Hortons all-franchisee conference call this week it has taken legal action against a group of restaurant owners over confidential information it says was leaked, and "negative" comments about Tim Hortons, reports the Globe and Mail.

Restaurant Brands has issued default notices to nine directors of Great White North Franchisee Association, which was formed in March by disgruntled restaurant owners to fight RBI's hyperfocus on improving efficiencies and the harm they say it inflicts on the business.

The notices, based on alleged breaches of the franchisee contract and confidentiality requirements, could eventually result in the company pushing out those franchisees, franchise experts say.

The association has filed a lawsuit against Restaurant Brands International Inc., complaining that the executives it hired to replace the entire team it fired when it gained control of the company, are ruining their business.

Last week the Globe and Mail reported that the company is considering price hikes and that might be what triggered Schwartz’s accusations of a breach of confidentiality.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Loblaws failed to alert CFIA to hazard

Documents obtained via Access to Information reveal that Loblaws failed to notify the Canadian Food Inspection Agency that it had problems with imported organic baby foods earlier this year.

The CFIA only became aware of the health risks after a mother in Hamilton complained that her four-year-old became sick after eating the product that was watery and didn’t smell right.

Loblaws issued its internal – but not public - recall on Jan. 13, sending it to all of its many stores – eg. Loblaws, No Frills, Superstores – across Canada. It did not inform the CFIA.

It wasn’t until Feb. 2 that the CFIA kicked into action on the basis of the consumer complaint and by evening Feb. 3 issued a national recall alerting customers to the possible presence of harmful bacteria in the President's Choice products.

The heavily-censored documents indicate the products were imported, but the name and location of the supplier are censored in from most documents.

One e-mail amongst dozens censors the name of the supplier, but provides the address as 10119 Old Valley Pike in Mount Jackson, Virginia. That is the address for Andros Foods – North America.

The internet says “Andros is a family owned and run private company, headquartered in the southwest countryside of France, known as a global leader in fruit processing, frozen desserts, dairy and confectionery. 

“Andros currently owns and operates more than 25 factories worldwide including a U.S. fruit processing factory in Mt. Jackson, Virginia.”

The CFIA lab test results are censored, but what it clear is that the supplier erred in filling some pouches with wash water used to clear lines between processing of different ingredients.

Despite the consumer complaint, the CFIA said in its website recall and health alert that there had been no reports of illnesses linked to the recall.

There is a document dated Dec. 2, 2016, that is identified as complaint number 17.

The documentation reveals that despite the Loblaws recall initiated Jan. 13 and the CFIA recall initiated Feb. 3, there were more illnesses reported into the summer, prompting another and much more extensive CFIA recall on Aug. 2.

Some of the consumer complaints were for baby foods purchased at Shoppers Drug Mart stores which are also owned by Loblaws.

The documents also indicate that a baby in Nova Scotia became seriously ill after eating one of the products. The mother reported that it was mouldy.

There was one case that was misdiagnosed as Clostridium botulinum. It was, in fact, Botulinum dificile.

Right up to the August 2 recall, the CFIA identified the potential food-poisoning risk as Clostridium botulinum.

There is some sloppy bookwork. For example, there are at least a couple of documents with dates in October, 2017.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Gigi dies in barn fire

Gigi, the Holstein that set a record for milk production last year, has died in a barn fire in Wisconsin.

The fire that started around midnight on Sept. 19 at Bur-Wall Holsteins outside Brooklyn, Wis., also claimed 29 herd mates.

Sixty cows were in the barn when firefighters arrived; they were able to get half of them out.

Bob and Denise Behnke own and operate the farm where Bur-Wall Buckeye Gigi set the milk production record in 2015, then broke it last year.

The barn was a total loss.

In 2015, Gigi produced 74,650 lb. of milk in 365 days, with 2,126 lb. of fat and 2,142 lb. of protein.

Last year she produced 74,650 pounds of milk with 2,126 pounds of fat and 2,142 pounds of protein.