Evidence of meeting #27 for Agriculture and Agri-Food in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was food.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Ted Johnston  President and Chief Executive Officer, Alberta Food Processors Association
  • Rick Culbert  President, Food Safety Division, Bioniche Life Sciences Inc.
  • Anna Paskal  Senior Policy Advisor, Food Secure Canada

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Larry Miller

Thank you very much.

Mr. Storseth, you have five minutes.

February 29th, 2012 / 4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Johnston, you're basically talking about an interest-free loan, I believe, as being one of the most needed things to help the automation—the lack of automation—in your sector right now, but there must be different needs at different levels. I mean, you represent an extremely large number of processors, some of them quite large and some of them quite small. What are we talking about for the smaller guys? Do they have the same needs? Clearly they do not. What kind of dollar figures are we talking about?

4:45 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Alberta Food Processors Association

Ted Johnston

They essentially have the same needs, although the very small ones, the “fives”, don't. They need some help. Their primary issue is related to meeting safety standards versus putting in significantly larger plants.

As an example of the others, the gentlemen I referred to as the largest gluten-free baker is now opening up European marketplaces. He's going to need to do a significant expansion to be able to do that. That's going to be totally capital-intensive. His challenge will be to come up with the capital to be able to do that kind of expansion. As well, in Ontario today significant plants are having great difficulty just trying to make the changes to the facility that are required to meet these multiple safety standards, and they cannot get financing support to do that.

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Westlock—St. Paul, AB

I don't mean to be rude, but we just have five minutes. Predominantly what size are you talking about that will benefit from the loan?

4:50 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Alberta Food Processors Association

Ted Johnston

Do you mean in terms of companies?

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Yes.

4:50 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Alberta Food Processors Association

Ted Johnston

All sizes would benefit from it.

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Even the small businesses would?

4:50 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Alberta Food Processors Association

Ted Johnston

Even the small businesses, because—

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Westlock—St. Paul, AB

They would be the ones who would be accessing—

4:50 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Alberta Food Processors Association

Ted Johnston

If you want to go from being small to medium-sized, you need to be able to go into that kind of a jump. Again, we have Alberta. We have a lot of things in place out there. We have this business incubator. We have the development centre. We built the business incubator so that people could move into development to get to production, the theory being you could build orders and then go out and build your plant.

The problem is how to finance building the plant. I've proven that I can make this product and that I can make it in volume, but now I have to come up with the millions of dollars to be able to put that plant in place. That's the other thing that API does not do. It does not deal with start-ups and it does not deal with safety.

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Westlock—St. Paul, AB

What would the cost to the taxpayer be?

4:50 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Alberta Food Processors Association

Ted Johnston

At the end of the day, it's whatever the defaults were—

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Westlock—St. Paul, AB

What would your costs be?

4:50 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Alberta Food Processors Association

Ted Johnston

—and the time value of the money.