Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agrifood (AGRI)

This week the Committee finished its study of Growing Forward 2, continuing its focus on meeting consumer demand. 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.

Government members of the Committee seemed to be getting frustrated by what they viewed as off-topic witness reports. Pierre Lemieux asserted that the Humane Societyʼs witness was discussing topics unrelated to meeting consumer demands, despite the fact that she was talking directly to the growing demand for ethically produced agrifood products.

An interesting topic that came during both meetings was the practice of supply management that occurs in a number of agricultural industries. Representatives from the Canadian Restaurant and Food Services Association (CRFA) spoke out against the uncompetitive practices associated with supply managed products, specifically the premium rates for food inputs that food service industries have to pay in comparison to food processors. Conversely, reports from Food Secure Canada were urged the government to protect supply management since it helps buffer a local market for domestically produced agrifoods. Government and opposition members spoke out highly in favour of defending supply management, but ironically government members seemed quite pleased with ending supply management for grain and barley products with the end of the CWBʼs monopoly.

This was the second week that the Standing Committee heard about growing demand for locally produced food products, this week coming from Food Secure Canada. Their testimony related to the Peopleʼs Food Policy was very compelling, and mirrored very closely the Green Partyʼs agricultural policy. Links to their testimony and policy documents can be found here and here.