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The 95th Annual Conference will be held at the Westin Ottawa from Wednesday, May 6th to Friday, May 8th, 2015. Pencil the dates in your agendas and make plans to travel to Ottawa for the conference.
This has been a banner year for the Harper government on the international trade file.
On September 26th, Prime Minister Harper and his European counterparts announced the completion of negotiations on the Canada-Europe Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). When the text of the agreement has been reviewed by lawyers and translated into 24 official languages, implementing legislation will be introduced in the Canadian and European Parliaments. It is projected that the Agreement could be implemented sometime in 2016.
From left to right: His Excellency Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council , Jim Laws, Executive Director Canadian Meat Council, The Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, and His Excellency José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission.
Canadian and EU officials are registering good progress on the elimination of technical barriers to bilateral trade in meat products. Member companies have been asked to inform the CMC immediately of any EU technical requirements that could prevent or limit Canadian meat exports to Europe.
For its part, the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement (CKFTA) was ratified by both the Canadian and Korean legislatures in time for a January 1, 2015 implementation date. This is very good news for the Canadian beef and pork sectors as it will allow them to begin the process of reclaiming their share of the important Korean market.
In the meantime, negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement continue to register slow but concrete advancement. Canadian negotiators have requested specific recommendations on beef and pork industry priorities. Responses to these requests are developed by interested members of the Beef, Veal and Lamb and the Pork Committees.
With respect to market access issues, the result is more mixed. Officials from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency are in active dialogue with their Ukrainian counterparts in an endeavour to increase the opportunity for meat exports to Ukraine.
China relisted 14 cold storage facilities that Canadian pork and beef establishments depended upon as a component part of their export logistics. This breakthrough should facilitate the resumption of meat products to the Chinese market that had been suspended from October 6 to December 8.
Egypt announced that it would initiate the testing of meat products to ensure the absence of growth hormone residue, beginning on January 1, 2015.
The Russian ban on the importation of pork from Canada has been in effect since August 7. This ban reflected political considerations that are unrelated to the meat industry. After only the United States, Japan and China, Russia was the fourth most important market for Canadian pork exports in 2013.
During the weeks that followed the ban, the CMC and member companies worked intensively with the government to implement a series of measures for facilitating export certificates with alternate destinations for the 411 containers of pork, valued at up to $75 million, which were in transit to Russia at the time of the announcement. The government also facilitated the export to other destinations of frozen pork products, valued at $65 million, which were intended for Russia but were still in Canada on August 7.
|Link to CTV News Interview on Russian ban|
Foreign workers provide vital contributions to meat processors in worker-deficit regions and have been instrumental in the planning of investments in new facilities or expanded production. On June 20, the government announced changes that: impose an application fee of $1,000 per position; severely restrict access to foreign workers; and, reduce work permits to one year. Today, a critical shortage of more than 1,000 butchers and meat cutters in processing plants is threatening the future sustainability of the Canadian livestock and meat sector.
Ten member companies created a coalition under the CMC umbrella to advocate with the federal and provincial governments and the media on behalf of the industry’s requirement for foreign workers. This initiative is supported actively by both producers, the United Food and Commercial Workers, provincial governments and local mayors.
In addition to a request that the primary agriculture exemption be extended to meat processors, the coalition has submitted recommendations related to: domestic recruitment; access to temporary foreign workers; the new “Express Entry” Program for “skilled” workers; and, the Provincial Nominee Program. Information provided to the governments includes detailed data on: cancelled or postponed investment; cessation of value-added activities; diversion of specialty meats/offal to rendering; forfeiture of export opportunities; decrease in livestock purchases; reduction in revenue for local municipalities; transfer of jobs outside Canada; and, inability to take advantage of new trade agreements.
Reaction by the federal government remains very far from responding to the needs of the industry. In this context, the Beef Value Chain Roundtable has declared that access to labour is the most serious threat facing the cattle and beef sector today and the Pork Value Chain Roundtable has asked producers to educate both the media and Members of Parliament on the implications of the inability to access labour.
The Canadian Meat Council is focusing efforts aimed at ensuring that members are actively engaged in, and participating in the regulatory modernization agenda consultations spearheaded by CFIA and Health Canada.
To date, we have provided the CFIA with input on the:
• Integrated Agency Inspection Model (July 1)
• New Regulatory Framework for Federal Food Inspection: Overview of Proposed Regulations; Foreign Food Safety Recognition; Incorporation by Reference and Use of Private Certification to Inform Regulatory Risk-Based Oversight (August 29)
• CFIA Guidance Documents Supporting Compliance with the Proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations; Compliance, Control and Enforcement Framework; Draft Compliance Promotion Strategy; Enhancing Risk Analysis: A more systematic and consistent approach (October 31)
We have also provided comments on feed hazard identification and preventive controls under CFIA’s Feed Renewal Process, and input on the Framework for Implementing and Maintaining the Arrangement between the CFIA and the USDA for the Recognition of Foreign Animal Disease Control and Eradication Zones which is being managed under the Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC). We also worked with a sub-group of the Technical Committee to provide comments on Health Canada’s Nutrition Labelling proposals.
The long awaited draft Safe Food for Canadians Regulations should be published in Part 1 of the Canada Gazette sometime in the first quarter of 2015 for industry comment. In addition, members can expect CFIA and Health Canada to continue to advance their regulatory modernization agendas in 2015 on issues as diverse and wide-ranging as labelling, transparency, irradiation, nutrition labelling, food additives, contaminants etc. through industry consultations, workshops and webinars.
In the meantime, CFIA is working with FSIS to complete the meat export certificate that will allow signatures by either CFIA veterinarians or inspectors. The work for the amended certificate should be completed by December 31, 2014 and is dependent on a review of the draft certificate by FSIS. CFIA will update the Meat Hygiene Manual of Procedures once FSIS has informed CFIA of its acceptance of the proposed amendments to the certificate.
It is also expected that FSIS will introduce flexibility in the application of its border testing policy on meat products imported from Canada. In the New Year, it should no longer be necessary for the operator to hold the product sampled by FSIS at the original establishment until acceptable test results are reported by FSIS. Provided that the product sampled by FSIS remains in the operators control, the operator will be given the option to process the product at the original establishment or another establishment as long as the product is not released into commerce until acceptable test results are reported by FSIS.
It is expected that CFIA’s food safety regulations will introduce a new measure to control Trichinella. In addition to freezing meat or testing every carcass, an acceptable control measure will also include meat derived from pigs originating on a farm certified as being at negligible risk for Trichinella.
In anticipation of this change, CMC’s pork committee is working with its stakeholders, the Canadian Pork Council and the Animal Nutrition Association of Canada, to develop a Trichinella free program for Canada in keeping with OIE-CODEX standards. Now that costs have been defined, the plan is to conduct a wildlife survey to provide essential information to help support compartmentalization of Canada for Trichinella.
• Antimicrobial Resistance
The developed world is recognizing the need to minimize the development of anti-microbial resistance.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is implementing a plan to phase out the use of important antimicrobials in food animals for food production purpose that are used to enhance growth or improve feed efficiency. The plan would also phase in veterinary oversight of the remaining appropriate therapeutic uses of such drugs. Health Canada also announced plans to phase out the use of antibiotics for growth promotion in livestock to minimize development of antimicrobial resistance. The Canadian Animal Health Institute member companies agreed to phase-out uses of medically important antibiotics for growth promotion and support increased veterinary oversight of medically important antibiotics used in animal and water feed.
Thanks to funding from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), through the Pork Value Chain Roundtable, the Canadian Meat Council and the Canadian Pork Council have held a workshop with key stakeholders (Animal Nutrition Association of Canada, Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, academia and AAFC) in October to develop a sector position and action plan to control antimicrobial resistance. During this workshop, the swine sector developed a position on dosage ranges and compatibilities, extra label drug use, active pharmaceutical ingredients, own use, increased veterinary oversight and growth promotion.
The Canadian Meat Council has taken a more active role in the activities of Codex this year. Suzanne Sabourin, Director, Legal and Regulatory Affairs, attended the 37th Session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission in Geneva, Switzerland from July 14 to 18 while Jorge Correa, Technical Director, attended the 46th Session of the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene (CCFH) in Lima, Peru from November 16-21.
The importance of the CODEX can’t be overstated. Standards set by its various committees provide key inputs to the development of the regulatory framework for federal food inspection within CFIA.
The Canadian Meat Council is now better positioned to monitor, coordinate or participate in the activities of the Codex Commission and its various committees, including the Codex Committee on Food Labelling (CCFL) and the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene (CCFH). In the case of the CCFL, the government supported the comments of the Canadian Meat Council on date marking and labelling of halal meat. In the case of the CCFH, the Canadian Meat Council supported the Canadian government’s risk assessment approach for a Trichinella free program which is aligned with the current production system in Canada and the initial guidelines for the control of nontyphoidal Salmonella spp. in beef and pork meat.