Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Farmers and Small Businesses Will Be Buried By Loosening of Regulations

When Galen Weston got himself into hot water for criticizing small farmers for spreading contamination, Sylvain Charlebois, a Guelph professor was quick to come in and do damage control. Weston, owner of Loblaw, the largest food retailer in Canada,  made the remark before a group of 600 food industry executives at the Canadian Food Summit in Toronto.  He said: 
“Farmers’ markets are great … One day they’re going to kill some people, though,” he said, quickly adding: “I’m just saying that to be dramatic, though.” 
Who knows who the execs were, as details don't seem to matter in reporting anymore, but anyway.  No doubt, they were like minded Used to be that balanced reporting would have added that fact, and maybe included a quote from a wounded party that might shed light on the further implications of what is going on.  But since that's not happening, it must be another coverup.  Anyway, Weston was quick to notice the gaff and apologized, but apparently, even more smoothing of perceptions was needed along with some pushing of the upcoming legislation that will threaten farmers and small entrepreneurs in the same way as all the government's deregulation policies.  Part of the one for one idiotic strategy, the softening of regulations, which ones, pick and choose, silliness will make a mockery of real business enterprises.  You may be sure that it will work well for some, and badly for others.

What's going on in the Food and Drug Industry?
TorontoCanada's food and consumer products manufacturers welcome the initiatives recommended today by the Red Tape Reduction Commission as they will spur industry growth, improve Canada's outdated regulatory system and ultimately help bring more innovative products to Canadian homes.
Food & Consumer Products of Canada (FCPC) is pleased that many of its key recommendations are included in the report concerning increased transparency; addressing the many regulatory delays manufacturers face when bringing new, innovative products to market; more proactive communication with business; improved efficiencies to move goods over the border; and greater reliance on electronic services.

FCPC specifically recommended that the government publicly report on how long it's taken to move products through the regulatory system and is pleased that the Commission included this in their final report.
 FCPC is encouraged with the government's commitment to the "One-for-One" initiative and is calling on the Federal government to move swiftly on the recommendations announced today.
So food industry executives will be engaging in trade deregulation with the US and internationally while busting the milk marketing board at home to do to the dairy farmers what they did with the wheat board.  No more monopoly.

Farmers feel threatened by Weston's slight against farmer's markets.
The fact that Weston and Loblaws play the middle man between farmers and processors and the consumer does not give them the right to use scare tactics against those who choose to go the direct route.
Farmers markets give consumers the ability to not only purchase the freshest possible foods, far, far fresher than any corporate giant can ever offer, but it also provides a real face and location behind those products rather than the paper trail which is only possible with the giants.
Also, the middle man’s profit is wiped out.
Farmers selling at these markets are putting their face and reputation behind each and every sale, either at the market or at the farm door.
They are the ones who picked or harvested the fruits and vegetables that very morning, at the peak of freshness and when field ripened, not green and allowed to ripen in transport.
They themselves make the products they sell in their own kitchens, the very same ones as their families eat and they offer to guests, plus they are usually chemical and preservative free.
They see the very plants and animals which provide the produce they sell, know their history and their health and would no more sell a potentially dangerous item than feed it to their family or friends.
Have a question? They are more than eager to help.
Loblaws does not have the righteous handle on food safety, nor does any food agency. The number of food recalls which are announced in the media are proof of that as are the sicknesses or deaths which often precede the recalls.
To infer that they do is highly irresponsible… or a case of a food giant looking to add another $700 million to its sales sheet.
 What all this amounts to is a preliminary to absolution of the milk, dairy, eggs, turkey marketing boards in Canada because of a $1.00 discrepancy with the U.S.

Montreal economist William Watson recently compared the average retail price of four litres of milk and found the average price in U.S. cities so far this year was $3.85 (in Canadian dollars). In comparison, according to Statistics Canada, four litres of milk in Canada will set a consumer back between $4.50 (in Regina) and $6.79 (in Charlottetown). All other cities surveyed are within that range. (Statistics Canada does not provide a cross-country average.)
The Fraser Institute, a Conservative think tank, further demonizes farmers as greedy cartels.
Canada’s cartel-like supply management boards should be abolished and for the same reason other cartels are already illegal: they cement an undesirable nexus between politics and money; they promote crony capitalism, lock out competition and in the case of supply management boards, collude to raise prices on an essential human need: food. 
 That is the background to the remarks made by Weston because, indeed, one of the purposes of the conference was to strategize and prepare for the new trade deals in the future.  Charlebois conceded:

For industry, particularly for smaller enterprises trying to develop new markets both domestically and globally, the role of the Canadian food safety regulatory regime has become somewhat of an impediment to innovation and successful commercialization. The overall regulatory and policy framework within which the Canadian food industry operates itself interferes with our ability to effectively support industry in innovation, marketing and commercialization. Most Canadians wouldn’t know how difficult it really is to start a business in the food industry, mostly as a result of the array of food safety policies.
 So basically, the one for one scheme will mean big business will trade a one for one.  Food safety and successful commercialization.  Big agribusiness.  Small farmers swallowed by big agribusiness.  One for one.

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