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

4:45 p.m.

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

Andrew Gordanier

In the short term, yes, but it would depend on the level of expansion that we experience as we move forward.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Larry Miller

You're out of time, Alex.

4:45 p.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Thank you.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Larry Miller

Mr. Lemieux, you have five minutes.

June 6th, 2012 / 4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Thank you, Chair.

Thank you to our witnesses for being here today. I think it's important that the value chain round tables have a voice in this study of supply chain management, particularly as we're focusing on the red meat sector at the beginning.

The government feels that value chain round tables are big contributors to the industry, and they work very well with government as well, so you're filling an important role.

I'm glad to hear—I think Travis was saying—that there is growth in the value chain round tables. I think that's a good thing.

When we started this study, before we moved into the red meat sector, we sort of did an overview, and now we're focusing on the red meat sector. The value chain is quite long, of course, and it branches at many different places. What I'd like to know is—and maybe I'll just start on the beef side, because we did go to see a slaughterhouse in Guelph—where does the value chain round table see it can have the most impact in the value chain itself?

It starts at the farm. It works its way through feedlots. It gets into the slaughterhouse. Of course it can branch there. You can get products being sent straight to retailers, which people see perhaps on grocery store shelves. It can go to butchers. It can go to restaurants. It can go to further food processing. How far along that chain do you actually look, when you're looking at ways that you can bring value to the value chain?

I'll start with the beef side, and then maybe I'll ask the same question of pork, and then of sheep.

4:45 p.m.

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

Travis Toews

That's a very good question. I'll give a really short answer and then a little longer one.

Ultimately the beef value chain round table has a lot of value at any and every point in the value chain, right from the genetics industry in the cattle industry right through to the retail side, where the consumer is buying a product, or even the food service side.

One thing I think has been particularly noteworthy with the value chains is the realization that for us to function competitively as any one part of the industry, we're dependent on the whole industry being incredibly competitive. So the beef value chain round table has been a venue where we can collectively consider each individual sector's competitive challenges, take a look at those challenges, take a look at what the solutions might be, and not in isolation of the other sectors. Because as you know, very often solutions developed by one sector will have unintended consequences in another. So it's been a great venue to look at those issues collectively and then to move forward with an action plan.

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Right. Okay, thank you.

Is there someone who'd like to answer over on the pork side?

4:50 p.m.

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

Florian Possberg

The real value we, as producers, see is that we didn't often have the opportunity to sit down at the same table with the major processors and other partners in the value chain and the federal government, quite frankly, and the people from CFIA. So it's been a great opportunity to exchange ideas.

One of the things that Mr. Toews mentioned is right on. We actually started talking about emergency preparedness, and one of the examples was that if we had a hoof-and-mouth disease outbreak, quite frankly all hell would break loose. The packers' response was that they would probably lay off their workers and go home, because they would have issues selling the meat. For the producers, not having a place to slaughter our animals seemed like the exact opposite of what was needed in the event of such a tragedy happening. So the opportunity to actually sit down in a forum like this and actually understand the mindset of other partners in the chain and understand what their actions would be under certain circumstances was really quite valuable. So we can work those things out if we know where the issues are, and we can attack them.

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Good.

Is there someone from the sheep side?

4:50 p.m.

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

Andrew Gordanier

I would say that just having the whole value chain at the same table is a huge one for the sheep industry. It's not really something we've done before, or if we have attempted it before, we haven't done a very good job of it. We really do have everyone from the value chain there.

For the sheep industry right now, or specifically for lamb meat, we have a situation in which the primary producer is getting paid very high prices for the primary product, and that's causing negative margins along the rest of the value chain. We see expansion of production being very helpful with that.

I mentioned before, but I think it's worth mentioning again, that the creation of this expansion working group out of the sheep value chain round table is something that's absolutely necessary. Having the whole value chain as part of that discussion will make it meaningful for everyone.

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

From testimony we have heard here on other matters, and from what you are saying, the impression I think we all have around the table is that the different players in the value chain want success at all the different levels, and that it's a cooperative approach. That's one of the things I have noted when it comes to food safety.

CFIA wants to work with you and not against you. You want to work CFIA and not against CFIA. You want to work with processors and not against processors. The idea is to have all the players win as much as possible, as you increase the value of what you are offering the consumer. I think that's what I was hearing in your answer as well, that it's a cooperative movement, and that when you have players from all the different levels of the value chain working together on solutions, it then fosters that spirit of cooperation.

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Larry Miller

Thank you.

I think that was just a statement and not a question.

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

It was, yes.

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Larry Miller

Okay, thank you.

Ms. Raynault, back to you for five minutes.

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Francine Raynault Joliette, QC

My question is for the Sheep Value Round Table representatives.

Unless I am mistaken, we produce about 40% of what is consumed.

What kind of advertising do you do to encourage people to pursue this type of production? Do you need help? Why is this type of production so rare, and why are we unable to supply 80% of lamb, for instance? What can the government do to help you increase flock size, thereby ensuring our own food security in this field?