Evidence of meeting #42 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 animal.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

It's at the tail end of the supply chain, in a sense, but then it feeds into different products again.

4:20 p.m.

Government Affairs, Canadian Renderers Association

Graham Clarke

You talk about the supply chain, but the value chain is actually not a linear chain. It's a circle.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Yes, right. That's a good way to look at it.

4:20 p.m.

Government Affairs, Canadian Renderers Association

Graham Clarke

A lot of those protein meals are fed as animal feed, pet food, and for domestic animals.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

You were saying it would be nice to be able to export more product to other countries. The question I have is about domestic consumption, particularly since the input has dropped, you were saying, because government programming has ended in some provinces. The carcasses you're seeing have diminished. Are you able to supply the domestic need? Are you saying there's oversupply, and material could be exported under these current conditions, or is that under the older model of a few years ago?

4:20 p.m.

Government Affairs, Canadian Renderers Association

Graham Clarke

It fluctuates. It's a supply and demand situation. The world in general is protein short. The reason for that, of course, is largely aquaculture. Aquaculture in Asia and so on is growing. If you look at the graph of growth, it's almost vertical. There is a huge demand for protein meals for feeding farmed fish and shrimp and so on. Yes, the rendering industry does supply the domestic market for animal feed, and there is sufficient supply.

Ruminant meal, of course, with the situation with BSE, has become an issue, especially SRM. We produce 240,000 tonnes a year of SR material alone. When you render that you will get tallow—which is saleable—60,000 tonnes; you'll get steam, the moisture; and you'll get the protein, 60,000 tonnes, which has to be landfilled, because you cannot sell it, you cannot feed it. You have to dispose of it. It's waste material, so that becomes a cost-negative effect. That would be worth, if saleable, $400 a tonne. Instead, it costs $20 a tonne to dispose of, so now it's a negative $420 a tonne, on 60,000 tonnes of material.

Ruminant meat and bone meal are problems because we have an oversupply, so we like to export that.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Okay, so that's one product that you would see exporting.

4:20 p.m.

Government Affairs, Canadian Renderers Association

Graham Clarke

Tallow is a major export, of course, to Asia and so on. It's a high-value export, and there's huge demand around the world for that for soap and so on. So we are a major exporter of tallow, especially into Asia. Ruminant meat and bone meal go to Indonesia and the Philippines, but they are the only two markets we have, and they're very vulnerable. If we couldn't sell it to them, we would end up having to landfill it, and we're talking 15,000 tonnes a month, which is very substantial.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Thank you, Chair.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Larry Miller

Thank you very much.

I'm going to give an example. Pierre did a good job of clarifying the new rules or changes for extreme cases. At one time, I had a healthy young cow slip on the ice and she split herself, as they call it, and she couldn't get up. Anybody who has an agriculture background will know what I'm talking about. Perfectly healthy animal, but under the old rules I could butcher that cow and hang it in my garage and use it for my own. But if you have that situation, you want to be able to take that animal and have it properly processed, and it is saleable meat. They're extreme cases.

To dispose of that cow at that time, I had to load it onto a truck to send it to a local sales barn, which in turn transported it to a larger facility the next day. That cow was obviously injured and was suffering. So if you have a process—which this new rule will do—it allows that animal to be properly euthanized right away, the material used, and the farmer gets something out of it. I hope that helps everybody to understand. It's not putting bad or dead meat into the system, as some people have tried to say. It's not that at all. I think it's another great tool for farmers to recoup when bad things happen.

Anyway, Mr. Atamanenko, you have five minutes.

May 16th, 2012 / 4:20 p.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Thanks to all of you for being here.

Ms. Gibson, I'd like to look at the way things happen in British Columbia with the meat inspection regulations. I know at one point in time, I think it was in 2007, the provincial government came in and basically shut down slaughtering at the farm gate, and those folks could no longer sell. We lost a lot of small farmers. People were scrambling. The end result of that has been some mobile abattoirs. People have been adapting.

To comment on what Bob said, maybe one of the problems is the docking. There may be a mobile abattoir, but there aren't enough docking facilities that meet the demand, so people don't move it around. Anyway, we're getting a mobile abattoir in the boundary area that I represent.

However, it's still a bit unclear. The provincial government has backed off a bit and has introduced, I think, class C or D licences, which modify their initial regulations. I wonder if you could clarify that for me, please.

4:25 p.m.

Policy Analyst, BC Food Systems Network

Kathleen Gibson

Sure. I'll also send a website to all of you that will be helpful, because there's a handy diagram.

British Columbia introduced the meat inspection regulation in 2004. At that time the only option was to upgrade or build a class A or B facility. It involved an actual abattoir-type building. Class A does slaughter and further processing. Class B does slaughter only. They both come from an abattoir facility, but the end product of B is a bird in a bag, or a carcass, where in A you get further cutting, wrapping, processing, and other such things, in one facility.

In the period from 2004 to 2010, it became evident that there were producers, especially in remote parts of British Columbia, such as Haida Gwaii, that had no options. They didn't have the volume of animals or the money, because it costs easily hundreds of thousands, if not a million dollars to put together a red meat facility. They didn't have the resources to build an abattoir and that problem wasn't going away.

In 2010, after doing a consultation in three remote sites, the province introduced two new categories of farm gate licence. For those, you don't have to build a facility. You do have to take a training program. The training program teaches you how to develop a food safety plan. The program is taught and the food safety plan is monitored by an environmental health officer from the health authorities. That's distinct from the A and B classes, which are monitored and operated by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

For an extra layer of complication, the inspectors used in the A and B facilities are CFIA personnel on contract to the province. The A and B facilities have one system, and the D and E farm gate licences have another. The distinction between the D and the E is that for the E you're limited to 10 animal units a year. An animal unit is 1,000 pounds of live weight. You can translate that into a lot of chickens, a few lambs, and one steer. That's an E licence. A D licence allows you to slaughter and sell other people's animals at the farm gate, as well as your own, up to 25 animal units. You may sell them to local retail and restaurants, but only within your regional district. The Ds and Es are largely restricted to regional districts that do not have an A or B. There are some exceptions, but I think that's enough detail. That change was made in 2010.

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Thank you. I have a few more minutes, and there is another thing I wanted to ask you.

You mentioned a national food strategy. This has been on the radar of many organizations. The question in regard to the red meat sector is, can we have a national food strategy and look at this through the lens of controlling our food supply or food sovereignty, and still respect the trade we have as a trading nation? How can we look at that whole strategy from the point of view of the red meat sector?

4:25 p.m.

Policy Analyst, BC Food Systems Network

Kathleen Gibson

I think that's where you need what we call a “graduated system”. I totally understand the level of export activity that Canada's agrifood is engaged in. I know that the federal government has made significant commitments and is seeking others for trade agreements.

It's a question—if you're thinking of Al, Bert, and Charlie—about how they continue to function much more at the ground level. The experience we had with the meat regulation in B.C. is that if you're going to have different levels on scales of activity—and they're going to have them on the regulatory radar, because food safety, animal health, and public health are important—then you have to graduate the requirements so they remain doable.

My belief is that you can have levels of requirement that coexist. Canada can have an export type of requirement under its trade agreements and subnational systems, rather like we have in the meat inspection regulation, that allow a Charlie the possibility of growing and still honour the activities of an Al who's selling at the farm gate. I know that you cannot have Al and Bert, or perhaps even Charlie, function if they're subjected to an export-level requirement.

Also, let me say that this is not about lowering a standard. It's about adapting a methodology so that different levels of business can function.

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Larry Miller

Thanks very much.

We'll now move to Mr. Payne.