Each year the Canadian Produce Marketing Association and the Canadian Horticultural Council (CHC) host an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to raise awareness of the produce industry. There were coordinated meetings with MPs over the course of two-day period.
“Fall Harvest was very well attended again this year. Canadian produce growers, retailers and distributors met with 50 parliamentarians to discuss trade and health policy issues, as well as financial protection and labour," said Rebecca Lee, CHC's executive director. "Our reception on Tuesday evening with Chef Michael Smith was also a great success. Minister MacAulay took part in a cooking demonstration in which he crafted his own signature salad, with Chef Michael’s help."
The four key issues that were discussed include:
1. Renegotiation of NAFTA
Background: With most produce trade already tariff-free, barriers to trade within the sector are principally non-tariff and require support from the federal government to address.
Action: Ensure that, when negotiating trade agreements, the trading partner’s sanitary and phytosanitary requirements are science-based and not used as a cover for protectionism. Support produce industry needs when existing trade agreements, including NAFTA, are renegotiated.
2. Creation of a National Food Policy
Background: Canada is the only G7 country without a national fruit and vegetable nutrition policy—the European Union, United Kingdom, United States, and Japan have all instituted programs to improve nutrition and promote fruit and vegetable consumption.
Action: Stakeholders are asking the government to adopt a plan that would increase fruit and vegetable consumption.
3. Labour issues
Background: The labour gap in 2014 for horticulture commodities was 35,700. The SAWP and TFWP enabled farmers to successfully fill this labour gap. The labour gap in Canadian horticulture is expected to increase to 46,500 by 2025. Over half (53%) of the work required on Canadian farms is seasonal.
Action: Implement a Trusted Employers Program to help streamline and standardize the LMIA application process, as per the HUMA Committee report. Employers should not have to re-submit all their paperwork with every application. Rather, they would simply note what has changed and resubmit. Recognize the success and importance of the SAWP and ensure that Canadian horticultural producers continue to have access to it as a standalone program.
4. Financial protection for produce sellers
Background: Current rules severely limit the ability for produce growers and sellers to collect payment in the event their buyer declares bankruptcy. While products like electronics can be reclaimed, highly perishable produce is lost. This costs Canadian and U.S. firms operating in Canada an average of $19 M per year.
Action: Establish a limited statutory deemed trust that protects produce growers and sellers during bankruptcy in Canada.
Source: Fall Harvest 2017 document prepared by the Canadian Produce Marketing Association and the Canadian Horticultural Council.