AIC Notes Top         Issue 2012-19               May 17, 2012 
In This Issue
Ottawa Struggles to Establish Product of Canada Guidelines
Snapshot of Agriculture Presents Sobering Picture
Ottawa to Allow Slaughterhouses to Process Already Dead Animals
Tim Hortons Moves on Sow Stalls, Layer Hen Housing
Asia's Growth Bodes Well for Agri-Food in Canada
Frost Devastates Ontario's Fruit Sector
New Grain Research Funding System Sought
Ottawa's True Spending, and Cuts, Shrouded in a Fog of Bafflegab
Federal Cuts Called a 'Disaster' for Canadian Science
Reaping What We Sow
'Big Farma' Companies Seek Federal Approval of 2,4-D-Resistant Corn, Soybean Seeds
Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food
Coming Events

Ottawa Struggles to Establish Product of Canada Guidelines 


When can a chick or a pig claim Canadian residency?


It's a tricky question that's confounding the federal government, as it struggles to sort out what meat products can claim to be a "Product of Canada" on food packaging.


The conundrum dates back to 2008, when the government didn't factor in how imported live animals fit in to strict new Product-of-Canada-labelling guidelines unveiled by Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. The new policy, in effect since the beginning of 2009, requires any food to contain 98 per cent of Canadian ingredients to be considered a Product of Canada.


The Canadian Food Inspection Agency now has interim guidelines for imported cows, permitting cattle to be considered Canadian for labelling purposes if they live in Canada for 60 days before being slaughtered and processed in Canada. But CFIA says it has yet to establish residency rules for other animals, such as imported chicks and swine so, for now, the 60-day residency period only qualifies to cattle.


"The Product of Canada guidelines did not explicitly deal with live animals when they were put in place. At that time, the application of the guidelines to imported animals was not highlighted as an issue," the agency said in a statement, adding it's still reviewing "how these guidelines can be best applied to meat products from live animals imported into Canada."


Ron Bonnett, who operates a cow and calf farm in Bruce Mines in Northern Ontario, said the 60-day residency rule for cattle "definitely helps."


That's because the life of a cow, which usually spans 20 to 26 months from birth to slaughter, often involves cross-border travel, said Bonnett.


"Cattle do move a lot back and forth across the border. It's not uncommon for cattle born in my farm, I don't finish them. They might go into a feed lot in Canada or they might go into a feed lot in the states. And you can end up with Canadian born cattle, sent to a plant in the states and meat is imported back in, and it still wouldn't qualify. It just gets messy," added Bonnett, who chalks up a resolution to the cattle-residency question to the government's "cross-border harmonization effort."


But Bonnett, president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, said the government still has to address serious concerns from producers about requiring virtually all ingredients in a food product to be Canadian in order to be marketed as a Product of Canada.


Bonnett's organization has been pushing the government to establish a threshold of 85 per cent to allow processed foods made from local produce, such as Saskatoon-berry jam, to be sold as a Canadian product, even if incidental secondary ingredients, many of which are not available in Canada, are sourced outside the country.


"Very few products actually meet that requirement," Bonnett said of the 98 per cent threshold.


"I'm not really sure what happened there. I think one of the problems is they made a decision to go with the 98 per cent, and then they realized, 'Well, that isn't working,'" said Bonnett. "I don't think they want to trip on this again."


Until this policy change, a food product could be labelled as a Product of Canada if 51 per cent of the total production cost occurred in the country, even if all the ingredients were imported.


Just days before Ritz pressed ahead with announcing the 98 per cent threshold, the top official in his department warned that the proposed Product of Canada rule might not help local producers and could cause confusion among consumers, an internal memo released to Postmedia News shows.


CFIA said Tuesday it is maintaining the current guidelines related to the 98 per cent threshold, "with no changes to its current policies regarding these claims."


Sarah Schmidt, Postmedia News, May 15, 2012


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Snapshot of Agriculture Presents Sobering Picture 


The latest census of agriculture contains few surprises. Farms are becoming fewer and larger, farmers are getting older, fewer farmers are raising livestock, and canola has continued its meteoric growth to surpass wheat as the most dominant crop.


But at the same time, these ongoing trends raise some niggling questions about the sustainability of this industry's path in the context of big-picture issues, such as global population growth, rising energy prices and climate change.


Despite the continued consolidation of land holdings into fewer and larger operators, a trend that has been in play since the 1920s, and despite the relative good times the sector is currently enjoying, farming has not yet found its fountain of youth.


The average age of Canadian farmers continues to grow at a vastly disproportionate rate to the general working population. The 2011 Census of Agriculture marks the first time the 55-and-over age category represented the highest percentage of total operators.


In 2011, 48.3 per cent of operators were aged 55 or over, compared to 40.7 per cent in 2006. "By contrast, the Labour Force Survey reported that in May 2011, 15.4 per cent of those self-employed in the total labour force were aged 55 years or older," Statistics Canada says.


Fewer than 10 per cent of farmers in Canada are under the age of 35 and that proportion is declining. In short, there are a lot more people on the way out than there are coming in.


Will the scale of farming in Canada increase to the point where the few young farmers who do take up the call will be able to take on the massive operations acquired by their retiring seniors?


This latest census showed significant declines in livestock numbers and the acreages devoted to producing livestock feeds.


The number of beef cattle reported for breeding purposes decreased by 22.3 per cent since 2006, totalling 4.5 million head in 2011. The number of farms reporting breeding stock decreased by 25.3 per cent to 63,515 farms. Pigs on farms are down almost 16 per cent and the number of farms raising them has declined by nearly 36 per cent.


There are good economic reasons behind these declines. Cattle prices have partly recovered from the BSE-related collapse of 2003. As soon as some of the senior farmers saw an opportunity to recoup some of their lost equity, they took it. The hog industry is still digging its way out of a market collapse in 2008-09, which saw government dollars used to downsize and restructure the industry.


Both of these sectors pinned their export hopes first on the United States and now on emerging economies, namely China. The thinking was, its rapidly growing economic wealth would create a demand for meat protein. And because of its population density, and relatively scant feed resources, it would import the meat rather than grow it.


So far, China seems predisposed to buying feed to build its own livestock sector. So instead of being a customer for meat, it has become a competitor for feed grains. But how long will that last, given what we know about zoonotic disease in areas densely populated by humans and livestock?


What the numbers don't articulate is livestock plays an important nutrient-recycling function in agriculture. As livestock disappears from the equation, more of the nutrients used by annual crops, which are exported with the crop, must be bought back in the form of commercial fertilizer -- the cost of which is directly related to energy prices. They seem to rise more than they fall.


And what about the land? With the decline of livestock, the area of land in Canada devoted to forage crops is falling as those areas are converted into the more profitable annual cash crops.


The problem is, many of those lands are marginal for crop production and highly vulnerable to erosion. As for canola versus wheat, it has been well-documented that farmers, tempted by high prices, are courting an agronomic wreck by squeezing their canola rotations. How long can that continue?


On a more positive note, for the first time with this census, no-till practices, which are less ecologically disruptive, accounted for more than half of all area prepared for seeding across the country, a shift that was caused by a 23.8 per cent increase in the area of land seeded using no-till practices. Overall, 17.1 per cent more farms reported using no-till practices than in 2006.


That's significant progress. But is having half the land protected enough?


The census is simply a snapshot in time. But this one raises more questions about the state of the industry than it answers.


Laura Rance, Winnipeg Free Press, May 12, 2012


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Ottawa to Allow Slaughterhouses to Process Already Dead Animals 


The federal government wants to allow the carcasses of already dead animals to be processed in slaughterhouses for human consumption, a move that is raising concerns about the safety of Canada's food system.


The Conservative government is pitching the change as a way to cut red tape and provide greater flexibility to slaughterhouse operators.


But the New Democrats are raising a red flag saying the move invites possible "contamination" of the food supply.

"Under the present regulations . . . it has to come in alive, be slaughtered on site," said NDP MP Malcolm Allen (Welland), the party's agriculture critic.


"Now you can bring in dead stock. It's okay to bring in that animal into a slaughterhouse, have it cut, wrapped...for human consumption.


"The real fear is how did it die, (and) under what circumstances did it die."


The proposed changes to Meat Inspection Regulations, outlined in the Canada Gazette, would allow "greater flexibility" to the activities that can be carried out in federally regulated slaughterhouses.


Current federal regulations do not allow meat to be processed from animals slaughtered outside of a registered slaughterhouse.


Now the government is proposing to make exemptions to that rule for animals that cannot be transported to a slaughterhouse alive because they are too aggressive to move or because they are injured.


Bruce Campion-Smith, The Star, May 16, 2012


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Tim Hortons Moves on Sow Stalls, Layer Hen Housing 


Canada's iconic Tim Hortons chain has given its pork suppliers until the end of this year to have "clear plans" in place to phase out sow gestation stalls.


The Oakville, Ont.-based quick-service restaurant firm said it also set a target of purchasing at least 10 per cent of its eggs from producers using "enriched hen housing systems" by the end of next year.


Tim Hortons said Friday it now "intends to give preferred sourcing to pork suppliers who have clearly documented plans to phase out the use of gestation stalls, and egg suppliers working to phase in enriched hen housing systems."


"We believe there are better, more humane and sustainable housing systems that can improve the quality of animals' lives," Timmy's CEO Paul House said in a release.


"Striking a balanced, realistic solution for the farming community, which will need to make significant investments in new buildings, is also essential, and we fully recognize this will take time."


The 10 per cent pledge on eggs alone "represents significantly more than 10 million eggs," the company said.


Past that, the company said, "we plan to actively evaluate the industry's capacity to provide eggs from enriched housing systems, and to progressively increase our commitment beyond 2013 as additional supply becomes available."


Tim Hortons said it plans to "share next steps in early 2013, after reviewing industry plans and having further dialogue with the egg and pork industries and other animal welfare stakeholders."


Later this year, the company said, "we will commission scientific, fact-based animal welfare research with leading academic institutions on sustainable, humane animal housing systems."


The company said it also plans to call for a "North American-wide summit" of restaurant companies interested in the treatment of animals in the industry's supply chain.


"Viable scale"


Tim Hortons has expanded in scope and influence in recent years and is now billed as North America's fourth-biggest publicly-traded quick-service restaurant chain, based on market capitalization.


As of Jan. 1 this year, the chain included 3,295 outlets in Canada and 714 across 10 U.S. states, plus five in the Persian Gulf region.


In its 2011 "sustainability and responsibility" report, released early last month, the company noted it had pledged to source "one per cent of system-wide eggs from enriched-cage hen housing systems" and to "encourage the pork industry to move away from using gestation crates over time."


However, "the egg and pork industries do not have enough hens in enriched housing or sows not housed in gestation stalls to meet the restaurant industry's needs on a viable scale," the company said Friday.


An estimated 97 per cent of egg-laying hens in North America are housed in non-enriched cages and an estimated 70 per cent of breeding sows in the U.S. are housed in gestation crates, Tim Hortons said Friday.


Estimates on sow stall use are "unknown for Canada as the pork industry has been downsizing over the last number of years."


Hen housing systems that allow hens to nest, scratch and perch are "already the standard" in the European Union, the company said. U.S. legislation awaits approval requiring the phase-in of enriched hen housing systems over a 15- to 18-year span.


"No benefits"


Other major chains have made similar short- and long-term pledges in recent years. The Wendy's Co., which owned Tim Hortons from 1995 to 2006, said in March it will require all its Canadian and U.S. pork suppliers to provide plans to phase out use of gestation stalls in their operations.


Ohio-based Wendy's since 2007 has given preferential buying to pork suppliers who already have phase-out plans in place.


Miami-based Burger King last month announced a similar pledge, which the National Pork Producers Council in the U.S. warned could "force U.S. hog farmers out of business and lead to more consolidation of the pork industry, all with no demonstrable health benefits to sows."


The NPPC on April 30 praised shareholders in another chain, Domino's Pizza, for rejecting a resolution brought forward by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) that would have required its pork suppliers to phase out gestation stalls.


The council said "animal activist groups" such as HSUS have influenced McDonald's, Wendy's and Burger King to make "poorly informed decisions on sow housing."


The McDonald's chain said in February it would give its U.S. pork suppliers four months to present plans to phase out the use of sow stalls. McDonald's Canadian chain also currently sources all its pork from U.S. suppliers.


Canadian processors such as Maple Leaf Foods have made similar moves, as have organizations such as the Manitoba Pork Council, which in 2011 pledged to eliminate sow stalls in Manitoba hog barns in the next 15 years., May 4, 2012


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Asia's Growth Bodes Well for Agri-Food in Canada 


A new report from the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) says fast-rising Asian markets mean "golden opportunities" for Canada's agricultural producers.


Titled Golden Opportunities and Surmountable Challenges: Prospects for Canadian Agriculture in Asia, the report is the fourth in a series commissioned by the CCCE to explore the impact on Canada of Asia's growing economic power.


Asia's strength is driving major changes in the global agri-food market. Across Asia, rapid urbanization and income growth are contributing to an unprecedented expansion in the number of middle class consumers, and a consequent increase in demand for meats, vegetable oils, dairy products, fruits and sugar as well as processed food and restaurant meals.


The report finds that this growth augurs well for countries such as Canada that are net agricultural exporters - if federal and provincial governments and industry work together to overcome several external and internal challenges.


Among those challenges is the need to ensure that Canada is not locked out of key preferential trade agreements that will increasingly shape the future of international commerce.


Trans-Pacific Partnership


Michael Gifford, Canada's former chief agricultural trade negotiator and the author of the report, stresses the importance of ensuring Canada's participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a regional trade agreement currently being negotiated among Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.


Canada recently asked to join the TPP, but the United States, Australia and New Zealand have yet to agree, citing among other concerns the federal government's unwillingness to provide increased import access to Canada's highly protected, supply-managed dairy and poultry sectors.


Gifford says that supply management "need not be an insurmountable challenge" to Canada's broader trade ambitions. He points out that many other countries restrict certain kinds of agricultural imports, and that the most likely outcome of the TPP negotiations is therefore an agreement that results in a partial rather than complete liberalization of the most sensitive sectors.


At the same time, he says that Canada should be taking steps now to help protected sectors prepare for a future in which agricultural trade liberalization is not only inevitable, but very much in Canada's national interest.


"Political sensitivities notwithstanding, the rest of the economy, including the 80 per cent of Canadian agriculture that is tied to world prices, cannot afford to be held hostage to demands by dairy and poultry producers to preserve the status quo," the report says.


Food in Canada, April 25, 2012


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Frost Devastates Ontario's Fruit Sector 


Devastating weather-related losses of up to $100 million are forecasted for Ontario's fruit industry.

The province's agriculture minister was scheduled to tour part of the Niagara region fruit belt Thursday to observe the damage and discuss the impact with farmers, industry representatives and crop insurance officials.


The problem stems from record high temperatures in the winter that sparked extremely early blossoming, followed by more than a dozen frosts. A particularly severe frost occurred on the weekend when blossoms were abundant.


As a result, much of the $60 million apple crop has been lost in Niagara and in other fruit-growing regions in the province, such as Georgian Bay, Lake Erie's north shore and near Toronto.


As well, up to 30 per cent of Ontario's $48 million tender fruit crop is in jeopardy, including peaches, cherries, pears, plums and nectarines.


Some Ontario farmers say certain varieties such as Empire apples will be costly and available in very limited quantities, if at all.


"Higher prices are likely to continue over the next several years as farmers attempt to recoup losses from this year," says Jacob Pries of the Organic Council of Ontario.


Indeed, many of the expenses associated with growing apples will still be necessary, as pests are still an issue, even with little or no crop. Brandon Weber, farm manager at Filsinger's Organics in Ayton, Ont., says farmers who fail to control for pests this year will cause increased pest problems over the next years.


They'll still have to spend money and time on pest and fungus control, he says, even for trees with no apples.


This bout of unpredictable weather has thrown a new wrench into food price predictions. As last year drew to a close, University of Guelph researchers Sylvain Charlebois and Francis Tapon were predicting the 2012 overall price increase in food would be about two per cent.


However, Charlebois noted at the time, unpredictable heat, cold and rainfall continue to influence farming in ways never experienced in modern-era agriculture.


"If the weather co-operates, our predictions will be fine," he says, "but how can we know what Mother Nature will do?"


Owen Roberts, FCC Express, May 11, 2012


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New Grain Research Funding System Sought 


Manitoba producers want a new provincial farm organization formed to collect money for grain research after the current funding mechanism ends later this year.


Keystone Agricultural Producers is spearheading a search for a new Manitoba spring wheat and barley producer organization mandated to collect a checkoff for research and development.


Last month KAP held an industry stakeholder meeting to explore the idea. A resolution passed at a recent KAP general council meeting gives the executive authority to move forward, says president Doug Chorney.


Chorney stresses KAP is only steering the process and Manitoba producers themselves will decide on the new organization.


"We want this to be driven by farmers and not driven by KAP," he says.


Chorney says the goal is to find a different way to fund the Western Grains Research Foundation because of upcoming changes to the present system.


The Saskatoon-based WGRF is a producer-member organization that administers an optional deduction from grain deliveries to fund research for wheat, durum and barley breeding.


Currently, the levies are applied against a producer's Canadian Wheat Board final payment. But that will change when the Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act comes into effect Aug. 1.


The federal government has promised transitional support while a new funding model is developed.


KAP feels a producer-owned commodity organization in each of the three Prairie provinces is best suited to collect the research checkoff, says Chorney.


A provincial commission with a checkoff program on barley already exists in Alberta. Chorney says a newly formed Alberta all-wheat commission will be ready to roll Aug. 1. Preliminary discussions about something similar are underway in Saskatchewan.


In Manitoba, the law requires producers to approve a new commodity group in a plebiscite before it can be formed. Provincial certification isn't likely to happen for another two years even if producers support the idea, says Chorney.


But it's important to start working immediately on a new funding model, he adds. The federal act includes provisions for only a temporary point-of-sale checkoff on wheat and barley. Transitional federal support will last five years at most, he adds.


Chorney says stakeholder groups will now go back to their respective boards to see what they want to do.


The WGRF in 2011 collected nearly $6.2 million in checkoff dollars for wheat and over $682,000 for barley. The foundation says it hopes to invest $23.5 million over the next five years in breeding programs at institutions across the Prairies.


Ron Friesen, FCC Express, May 11, 2012


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Ottawa's True Spending, and Cuts, Shrouded in a Fog of Bafflegab 


Treasury Board President Tony Clement - Ottawa's equivalent of a chief operating officer - insists he's all about making Canada a model of open government.


Let's do a quick reality check. Say you want know how budget cuts are hitting Agriculture and Agri-food Canada. Basic stuff, right?


Not so fast. The March 29 federal budget says the department will spend $169-million less this year. Less than what? The answer isn't in the 498-page budget.


For that, you have to consult the "main estimates," released every year on March 1. According the estimates, Agriculture and Agri-food will spend $2.4-billion in 2012-2013.


But that's pre-budget. And if you want to know what the department spent last year, that's in another document - the annual financial statements.


Last week, Mr. Clement's office released its annual "reports on plans and priorities," which converts the estimates into detailed spending plans for all 97 federal departments and agencies. Typically, these also reflect changes in the budget.


Not this year. Mr. Clement, the Prince of Darkness, specifically directed departments to exclude the budget cuts, even though they have been known for more than a month.


This latest report puts Agriculture and Agri-food's spending at $3-billion this year, not $2.4-billion. The numbers should be the same, but they're not.


Whoa! Is Ottawa spending $3-billion, $3-billion less the planned $169-million in savings, $2.4-billion minus the cuts, or some other figure?


Is the department shrinking or growing? Damned if anyone outside government knows. And that, in the bizarro world of federal accounting, just might be the intent.


If Ottawa Inc. were a public company, regulators would probably delist its shares.


Federal financial reporting has become so murky, inconsistent and retrospective that no outsider has a clear picture of what is actually being spent, or cut. Multiple and overlapping reports are produced using different accounting methodologies. Money not spent in one year is quietly shifted into another, conveniently creating moveable baselines for advertised "cuts."


It isn't just about Agriculture and Agri-food's budget. It's F-35 fighter jets, employment insurance, and everything else Ottawa does. Nowhere are the budget's headline figures of $5.2-billion in savings and 19,200 job cuts properly documented.


Mr. Clement, taking a break recently from a conference on government openness in Brazil, acknowledged that Canadians will have to wait until next spring to find out what has actually been cut.


The system serves the government, which is eager to show that budget cuts won't affect Canadians. It also enables top bureaucrats to keep a veil around what they're spending.


The disturbing trend away from transparency, which predated Stephen Harper's Conservatives, hasn't gone unnoticed. Parliamentary budget watchdog Kevin Page bluntly pointed out in a report last month that the government isn't even giving MPs enough information to "fulfill their constitutional obligations" and that its reporting violates guidelines set by the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development.


"Canada's budgetary reporting writ large is not adequately transparent - timely, comparable, reconciled - as defined by the OECD," the report concluded.


The way it works in Canada is that the government can't spend without Parliament's authority. Members of Parliament, who represent ordinary Canadians, need a clear and up-to-date picture of what is being spent. They're not getting it.


In a bid to provide some clarity. Mr. Page's office asked 91 departments and agencies to outline what impact the budget cuts will have on jobs, programs and services. Only eight bothered to respond.


And what about that mysterious $600-million jump in the Agriculture budget? Here's the convoluted official explanation: "Planned spending reflects funds already brought into the Department's reference levels as well as amounts to be authorized through the Estimates process as presented in the Annual Reference Level Update. It also includes funding approved in the government fiscal plan, but yet to be brought into the Department's reference levels."


Translation: We know a lot more than we're letting on, but we'll only share what we choose.


So much for openness, Mr. Clement.


Barrie McKenna, Globe and Mail, May 13, 2012


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Federal Cuts Called a 'Disaster' for Canadian Science 


Federal cutbacks are a life-and-death issue for Lynne Sigler.


As curator of one of Canada's largest collections of fungi, Sigler has 11,500 strains of living organisms under her care, from the fungi killing North American bats with white-nose syndrome to soil microbes that help rare orchids thrive.


The microfungus collection and herbarium at the University of Alberta has been nurturing fungi for more than 50 years. And since 1990 it has been considered a "unique" national resource worthy of federal money.


No more. Funding for the collection, and dozens of other "major" and "unique" science facilities and

resources across Canada, has been hit by federal cuts in what is being described as a "disaster" for Canadian science.


Read more here.


Margaret Munro, Postmedia News, May 13, 2012


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Reaping What We Sow 


It all started innocently enough seven or eight years back, recalls Philip Shaw, a farmer near Dresden.

Preparing to plant a field of soybeans one day on his 350 hectares in the heart of southwest Ontario, he puzzled over what was later confirmed to be a brand new breed of mutant weed, one of the very first in Canada.

The species was a common Giant Ragweed, but this particular Ambrosia trifid L. refused to surrender to Shaw's repeated assaults with the reliable old herbicide glyphosate.

The darn weed was practically indestructible and, with some hardy cohorts, would eventually grow back and ruin his soybeans.

Glyphosate was introduced by farming and chemical colossus Monsanto in 1974 under the brand name Roundup. It soon became the world's No. 1 broad-spectrum weed killer.

Two decades later, the company ushered in the age of genetic farming in 1996 with Roundup Ready soybeans, genetically modified to tolerate the spraying of glyphosate. Roundup Ready alfalfa, corn, cot-ton, spring canola, sugarbeets and winter canola followed.

It was the dawn of the "Roundup revolution," a rosy new age in crop agriculture. Crop yields climbed and production costs fell. Roundup Ready was universally hailed and began dominating much of North American's farming landscape.

But some tried-and-true farming practices were left behind in the ensuing dust.


Read more here.


Ian MacLeod, Ottawa Citizen, May 12, 2012


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'Big Farma' Companies Seek Federal Approval of 2,4-D-Resistant Corn, Soybean Seeds 


Dow Chemical and Monsanto want federal approval to sell corn and soybeans seeds genetically fortified to withstand concentrated spraying with 2,4-D and other potent herbicides to repel advancing "superweeds" on Canadian farms.


The agricultural giants are seeking Health Canada and Canadian Food Inspection Agency safety assessments for the introduction of four varieties of corn and soybeans bio-engineered to tolerate 2,4-D choline and another proven broadleaf weed killer, dicamba.


Dow AgroSciences, a subsidiary of Dow Chemical, hopes to have 2,4-D-tolerant "Enlist" field corn on the North American market next year. Rival Monsanto plans a limited launch of dicamba-tolerant soybeans in 2014, while Dow wants to unveil 2,4-D soybeans in 2015.


Health Canada would not discuss the companies' specific safety submissions for the proposed novel foods, saying such information is "confidential" while under government review.


Regulatory sanctions also are sought by the "Big Farma" duo in the United States, where a fierce battle to sway public opinion and regulatory approval is underway.


Read more here.


Ian Macleod, The Ottawa Citizen, May 12, 2012


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Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food


The Committee met twice this week for on its study of the Animal Products Supply Chain, Red Meat.


On Monday, May 14, 2012, the witnesses were:

Rory McAlpine, Vice-President, Government and Industry Relations, Maple Leaf Foods Inc., and

Brian A. Read, Vice-President, Government and Industry Relations, XL Foods Inc. XL Foods Inc.  


On Wednesday, May 16, 2012, the witnesses were:

Mike Beretta, Chief Executive Officer, Beretta Organic Farms Beretta Organic Farms,

Graham Clarke, Government Affairs, Canadian Renderers Association, and

Kathleen Gibson, Policy Analyst, BC Food Systems Network. 



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Coming Events


International Fascination of Plants Day, May 18, 2012


Canadian Society of Soil Science and Association Québécoise de Spécialistes en Sciences du Sol Joint Conference, Lac Beauport, Quebec, June 3-7, 2012


3rd International Symposium on Beef Cattle Welfare, Saskatoon, June 5-7, 2012

Canadian Society for BioEngineering (CSBE-SCGAB) Annual Technical Conference, Orillia, Ontario, July 15-18, 2012  


Joint Annual Meeting of ADSA - AMPA - ASAS - Canadian Society of Animal Science - WSASAS, Phoenix, Arizona, July 15-19, 2012


Joint Annual Meeting of AIC, the Canadian Society of Agronomy, Certified Crop Advisors and Canadian Society for Horticultural Science, Saskatoon, July 16-19, 2012

5th World Congress of Agronomists and Agrologists, Quebec City, September 17-21, 2012 


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Frances Rodenburg, Editor