Thursday, March 23, 2017

Leal promises support for greenhouse growers

Ontario Agriculture Minister Jeff Leal has promised $19 million to help the greenhouse industry be competitive through the development of innovative new technologies, encouraging investments in greenhouse agriculture and boosting productivity. 
He made the promise this week in a media event in Bowmanville.
George Gilvesy, chairman of the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers marketing board said “we are extremely pleased with the announcement made by Minister Leal today. We are very optimistic with the prospects of continuing our work with the Government of Ontario to determine how we ensure a vibrant and sustainable future for our province's greenhouse sector.”
Jan VanderHout, chair of the Ontario Greenhouse Alliance, said “Ontario's greenhouse sector is a major contributor to the provincial economy.
“We appreciate the . . . support and recognition of the need to invest in our future as well as work with our members on challenges facing Ontario’s greenhouse sector.

“This funding will support the continued growth of our sector and its capacity to create jobs, drive exports and provide a reliable supply of locally grown greenhouse products for Ontario consumers.”

Tomato deal struck

Tomato processors and the marketing board have reached agreement on contracting for this year’s crop.

The deal comes after Agriculture Minister Jeff Leal turfed the directors of the Ontario Processing Vegetable Marketing Board and appointed former NDP agriculture minister Elmer Buchanan trustee.

Tomatoes are by far the largest crop for processing. Negotiations for other crops continue.
Buchanan says both sides made concessions to reach a deal.

The M.O.U. (Memorandum of Understanding) signed last year regarding pricing and contract tonnage will all be maintained between growers and Highbury Canco, ConAgra Foods Canada and Sun-Brite Foods.

Brazil’s meat exports plummet

Brazil’s meat exports have plunged from an average $63 million per day to $74,000 following revelations that federal police have uncovered scandals at 21 plants.

Police say food-safety inspectors were bribed and as a result, some meat that was treated with acid to mask putrid rotting conditions and some processed products containing cardboard passed inspection. 

The government has fired 33 meat inspectors.

Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi provided the figures on exports during a hearing in the Senate.

The 21 plants investigated represent a small fraction of the Brazilian meat industry, which has more than 4,000 facilities in operation, but many countries importing meat from Brazil have been banning products since Friday as a precautionary measure.

Canada has suspended imports from two companies.

China, Chile, Japan, Mexico, Hong Kong, South Africa and the European Union are among the countries that have suspended purchases, partially or completely.

Moody's Investors Service said in a report released Tuesday that the main negative impact of reduced meat sales should be felt by BRF S.A and, to a lesser extent, by JBS.

BRF is a major poultry processor and three of its plants were closed by federal police. The single JBS plant that’s among the 21 has been allowed to continue operations.

Meat Council welcomes budget

Canada’s meat packing and processing industry praised the first Liberal budget for increasing funding for the Canadian Food inspection Agency.

“We were very pleased with the government’s commitment to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency,” said Christopher White, president and chief executive officer for the Canadian Meat Council.

“Food safety and the integrity of the system is paramount and we look for ways to continue to work with CFIA to deliver on their mandate,” he said.

He also praised the “commitment to deliver through Innovation Canada the six Economic Growth Strategy Tables, in particular agri food, which is of paramount importance to the industry.”  

The budget says Canada is the world’s fifth-ranked food exporting nation.

Another rabid calf

Another calf in Perth County has tested positive for rabies.
The Perth District Health Unit notes the calf comes from an Elma Ward farm, which had another cow test positive in November.
Senior Public Health Inspector Dale Lyttle says the continuation of these cases should serve as a reminder to all that rabies is very much present in our area.
The Health Unit is working with the farm owner on implementing a confinement period for other cattle grouped with the rabid calf.
It also points out the contamination was most likely from a diseased skunk or fox.
The calf is the fifth cow to be confirmed with rabies in Perth County over the last year and a half.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Trump NAFTA reform could be good news

If Trump aims for major reforms on agriculture trade by scrapping the North American Free Trade Agreement, he could be shooting himself in the foot.

At new study by Al Mussell and Doug Hedley of Agri-Food Economic Systems based in Guelph finds that the U.S. food industry is a major beneficiary of NAFTA as it exists.

Food processors import raw materials from Canada and the U.S. processors export their products to Canadians.

It’s what has concerned Canadians for a couple of decades as they have watched processing plants, such as Heinz ketchup at Leamington and Kellogg’s breakfast cereals in London, close and transfer operations to the U.S.

“The U.S. food processing industry is vulnerable to any change limiting its access to Canadian bulk or intermediate product imports and/or the Canadian consumer market for its outputs”, says Hedley, Agri-Food Economic Systems Associate and co-author of the policy note.

“Canada has wrestled with how to effectively expand and retain its food processing sector to process Canadian farm products." he writes.
“Meanwhile, the U.S. has been a major beneficiary of its imports of Canadian bulk and intermediate products in expanding its food processing industry- with ready access to the Canadian market for the output.”

The threat to the U.S. from Mexico in NAFTA is reduced access to imports of fruits and vegetables that benefit from Mexican labour. 

This workforce is scarce in the U.S. and poised to become further limited due to Trump’s proposed changes in U.S. immigration policy.

Mussell says “the evidence does not support U.S. agri-food as victim of NAFTA, and the U.S. actually has much to lose in a NAFTA renegotiation.

“Understanding what is at stake will condition the negotiating positions of Canada and Mexico in agri-food, and should give pause to the U.S. in its pursuit of NAFTA renegotiation”.

Korea cancels ban on Brazilian meat

South Korea has cancelled its ban on meat from Brazil, but Hong Kong implemented a ban.

Canada has suspended imports from two packing plants.

Brazil’s meat industry is reeling after federal police charged 21 plants with bribing government officials to turn a blind eye to infractions and failures to meet quality standards.

Three plants have been shut down, including a large poultry processing plant with many export customers.

JBS owns one of the 21 plants police identified, but it was not shut down.

Thirty-three government employees have been fired.

China is one of the major customer countries that has banned meat from Brazil.

Brazilian President Michel Temer said on Tuesday that South Korea lifted its ban during a conference organized by the Council of the Americas in Brasília.