Evidence of meeting #34 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 markets.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Larry Miller

Thanks very much.

Mr. Zimmer, five minutes.

April 4th, 2012 / 4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Prince George—Peace River, BC

Thank you for coming.

I just wanted to mention that I'm from the prairies in B.C., so we've experienced Taylor corn and like to buy local beef whenever possible.

But I did have a question for you, Bob, specifically. You mentioned that people have a high level of trust for the market gardens and stuff. What are your recommendations with regard to concerns for food safety at farmers' markets?

And I'm not saying that in a.... You know, we want to help that as opposed to limit that.

So what would be your solution to that?

4:05 p.m.

President, Farmers' Markets Canada

Robert Chorney

I think it's really important, as I said earlier, for the farmers' markets to be proactive in terms of their training programs, the awareness, constantly talking about it with vendors, liaising with local health units, and, if there are CFIA people around, keeping open channels.

It really is a matter of being proactive, of training and awareness, and of talking about the fact that we're concerned and we want the right things to happen. It's just a whole awareness connectivity thing.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Prince George—Peace River, BC

Right.

Mr. Nault, could you first of all explain the name of your organization? It's in French only, and I just don't know what it means.

4:05 p.m.

President, Les amiEs de la terre de l'Estrie

André Nault

The Marché de solidarité régionale—

It's market online.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Prince George—Peace River, BC

Market online?

4:05 p.m.

President, Les amiEs de la terre de l'Estrie

André Nault

Yes. We've been doing that for the last six years.

I'm sorry, I am going to speak to you in French.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Prince George—Peace River, BC

They'll translate it. Don't worry.

4:05 p.m.

President, Les amiEs de la terre de l'Estrie

André Nault

This year, we are celebrating our sixth anniversary. We have a small market in the City of Sherbrooke. Producers make around $3 million in six years. So we make $500,000 a year, which is enough to keep six sheep and beef producers. And we have grass-fed beef. We pay attention to that.

In terms of food safety, I would like to answer that question. We have a direct contact with consumers. As a result, if there is something wrong with the product from a producer, we will get an immediate reaction from consumers, because they will call the person in charge to say that they have been poisoned. So we would directly contact the producer in question to say that we received two complaints, for example, about their product.

We once actually had to deal with a similar situation. I am not saying that education is not important. Recently, there was an E. coli contamination of spinach, but that cannot happen in local markets because producers don't use that type of production. They are not in a huge inaccessible market. They look after their clients' well-being.

Food safety is a consideration when there is a direct link.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Prince George—Peace River, BC

You had mentioned too about keeping the production local. A lot of us are supportive of that anyway; we like going to markets, as Frank mentioned. You spoke of the local market, but what are your thoughts on the export market? Certainly, farmers in my riding rely on the export market for their sustenance and needs. What is your position in having both, in having a balanced....

4:10 p.m.

President, Les amiEs de la terre de l'Estrie

André Nault

There is no problem with that. Both can definitely survive and thrive together. However, genetically-modified crops can contaminate the productions of local producers who don't use that method.

The popularity of local markets or local products—

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Prince George—Peace River, BC

I didn't want to go down that road. I just wanted to ask you specifically if you're okay with local producers producing to consume locally and export.

How about you, Bob? Are you okay with that?

4:10 p.m.

President, Farmers' Markets Canada

Robert Chorney

It's not a problem. The great majority of our market farmers are small producers; they're not into wholesale or export. Certainly we have some, and certainly it's a part of life; it's a part of our economy.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Prince George—Peace River, BC

That brought up another question, but I'm assuming by your answer that you'd be okay. What are your thoughts on our governments opening up foreign markets in terms of CIDA agreements and foreign trade agreements? Do you have a position as an organization? Is that good or bad?

4:10 p.m.

President, Farmers' Markets Canada

Robert Chorney

It's support, simple as that.