Evidence of meeting #45 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 industry.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Blair Coomber  Government Co-Chair, Beef Value Chain Roundtable, and Director General, Multilateral Relations, Policy and Engagement Directorate, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
  • Florian Possberg  Member, Board of Directors, Canadian Pork Council, Pork Value Chain Roundtable
  • Andrew Gordanier  Industry Co-Chair, Chair, Canadian Sheep Federation, Sheep Value Chain Roundtable
  • Travis Toews  Past-President, Canadian Cattlemen's Association, Beef Value Chain Roundtable

4 p.m.

NDP

Francine Raynault Joliette, QC

Canada is said to have 12,000 sheep farms, mainly located in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta. Now, production appears to be dropping because of the shortage of lamb to supplement the flocks being fed and sold. What can we do to stop flocks from shrinking? Should there be lamb production operators that focus solely on breeding lambs, which would then be transferred to other operators for feeding in preparation for the market?

If we depend on the export market for lamb, we may be taken for a ride. Our production will shrink and we will sell less lamb. There isn't a lot of Canadian lamb on the market; it is usually from New Zealand. People would obviously prefer Canadian lamb. There is a difference between our lamb and New Zealand's.

How do you intend to stop flock size from decreasing?

4 p.m.

Industry Co-Chair, Chair, Canadian Sheep Federation, Sheep Value Chain Roundtable

Andrew Gordanier

Thank you for the question.

There's an initiative under way right now out of Saskatchewan, a co-operative that wants to pool lambs together to create a central distribution of lambs that would primarily go through federal slaughter so they'd be available for wider distribution across provincial lines, etc. There is a consolidation, I think, that's happening within the industry as far as production goes. Certainly, in western Canada right now, the feedlot industry is growing in the number of feedlots as well as the size of those feedlots. We're not talking about huge numbers here; certainly, it is a small industry, for sure. So we have primary producers who are producing lambs that are then being fed into a feedlot system, and that's making it easier for those animals to make it into the rest of the supply chain.

Through the sheep value chain round table, we've identified two specific issues—one being expansion of the industry, and two being access to medications.

Regarding the first, expansion of the industry, that working group is comprised of much of the value chain. We're working at getting some processors at that working group to make sure the whole value chain is able to participate. They're just at the very beginning of identifying some of the challenges with expansion. Access to good quality genetics is certainly one. There are good quality genetics, it's just that the volume of those genetics available to domestic producers is a challenge right now, considering the demand we have for our final product.

On the access to medications, we have a disadvantage against some of our competitors because of access to medications or vaccines that they may have in other countries. So the access to medications working group is looking at the efficacy of some of these products from other countries, and how applicable they would be to be used in this country. Many of those that come to mind are specifically around vaccines, so it's preventative medicine, rather than reactionary medicine, on the production side of things.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Larry Miller

Thank you.

Mr. Zimmer, you have five minutes.

June 6th, 2012 / 4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Prince George—Peace River, BC

Thanks for coming today, everybody.

I just have a question I'm going to ask and try to get all three of you to answer as quickly as possible, because time is limited. It sounds like the value chain round tables have been a success for all of you, so I guess what I want to ask is, could we make it better? Are there any little things you could see that would improve the efficiency of it, or something like that? Do you have any quick comments?

I have some questions to follow, so let's start with Mr. Possberg, and go down the line.

4:05 p.m.

Member, Board of Directors, Canadian Pork Council, Pork Value Chain Roundtable

Florian Possberg

We have enjoyed a forum where the major players that consist of our value chain round table have really been able to be in one place at one time, and that's very important. As producers, we often suspect that everybody else in the value chain is very profitable except us, but by getting to know our partners in the value chain better and understanding their concerns, it has been very educational for my end of the business, which is the production end.

I think the ability to actually get very important things done from a producer point of view seems to take time, and of course, difficult problems often do, for example, fixing the ability for containers to move our product much more efficiently by rail as opposed to truck. We think there are solutions, but there's a whole infrastructure that needs to be modified to make those things happen. We're seeing some of the concerns that we brought up that involved regulation and how we certify products going overseas, and I think Mr. Toews expressed this earlier. Some of the changes being made to CFIA are pretty exciting. Again, it takes time for these things to happen, but we are seeing a response, which is very positive.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Prince George—Peace River, BC

I'd better give some other panellists some time to answer.

Mr. Toews.

4:05 p.m.

Past-President, Canadian Cattlemen's Association, Beef Value Chain Roundtable

Travis Toews

I think generally the beef value chain round table has functioned well and effectively. I think it's most effective, particularly when dealing with regulatory issues or issues of CFIA—that we have the right people in the room for those meetings. And obviously, we make the most progress when we have the most senior people there. Again, that's always, I think, a priority for the chairs, and when we don't have the right people, we don't probably make the progress that we would like to make. Out of all the venues, again, I believe it's been probably the best venue for moving the bar on regulatory issues and issues of competitiveness.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Prince George—Peace River, BC

Thanks.

Mr. Gordanier.

4:05 p.m.

Industry Co-Chair, Chair, Canadian Sheep Federation, Sheep Value Chain Roundtable

Andrew Gordanier

It would maybe be a little bit premature—we've really only had one official meeting, and one the year before that was just getting the ball rolling—but for us, just having the whole value chain together around a table, just that in itself is a big deal, because we really are quite fragmented in all of our production, really. It's bringing that all together, sharing the ideas, the challenges. It was mentioned earlier that everyone else in the value chain is making money except me. So that was a real eye-opener, I think, because that's something we share at the sheep value chain round table as well.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Prince George—Peace River, BC

I just wanted to specifically ask Mr. Toews one question about herd insurance or price insurance.

We talked about it before; Alberta already has a model. You know I'm your neighbour and we look over the fence, and some of our farmers wish we had it over there. What is your membership asking for in terms of that? Are they asking for a specific kind of insurance? You talked a bit about it before, but can you just talk to that again?

4:10 p.m.

Past-President, Canadian Cattlemen's Association, Beef Value Chain Roundtable

Travis Toews

Sure. The Canadian Cattlemen's Association would really like to see a cattle price insurance program made available across the country, and thereby ensure that all regions have a competitive playing field, in other words, have the same risk management tools as those in other provinces. In Alberta, the cattle price insurance program has had a lot of interest, this spring particularly, and there have been real opportunities to manage price risk through it. So that's our position. We'd like to see it taken nationally.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Prince George—Peace River, BC

Okay.

Is that good, Larry?

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Larry Miller

You have a little bit of time.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Possberg, can you answer a similar question?

4:10 p.m.

Member, Board of Directors, Canadian Pork Council, Pork Value Chain Roundtable

Florian Possberg

In terms of risk management?