Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food (AGRI)

This week the committee continued its study of Growing Forward 2. It continued its focus on marketing and trade of agricultural products on Monday February 13th, and switched to a study on meeting consumer demand on Wednesday February 15th. The previous program, Growing Forward 1, comes to an end in March 2013 and the committee has been seeking witnesses to report on the effectiveness of the previous program, as well as where improvements could be made for the second. 

Witness testimony this week came from public servants, a number of private, and quasi-public organizations. Much of the focus of these groups was on food safety and food inspection processes. Bob Kingston from the Agriculture Union made waves on Wednesday when he told the Committee it had received false information from public servants with regard to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. In a normally amicable Committee some tension was present as a result of this testimony and in the Conservative MPsʼ tact in questioning the witnesses. 

Discussion was generated about buffering local food processing and localized markets. Witnesses called for Growing Forward 2 to invest in food processing infrastructure as well as significant investment to local small-to-mid-sized farms and tax incentives for transition to organic agriculture.

The Committee briefly undertook its activities ʻin cameraʼ on Monday to deal with future business and to accept a Subcommittee motion noted below:

Your Subcommittee met on Thursday, February 9, 2012, to consider the business of the Committee and agreed to make the following recommendations:

  1.  That, at the completion of the hearings on growing forward 2, the Committee commence a study of the food supply chain, which would be divided into a number of components.
  2. That the Committee consider the following topics for an eventual study: food standards (food origin, food content, food safety, biosafety, etc.) and red tape reduction at the farm level.