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Eighteenth meeting of the Horticulture Value Chain Roundtable: Record of Decision

December 19 to 20, 2016 – Ottawa, Ontario

Opening remarks

  • Christiane Deslauriers, Government Co-Chair, and Keith Kuhl, Industry Co-Chair welcomed participants and reviewed changes to the membership since the last meeting. It was noted that Luce Daigneault, one of the two industry co-chairs, could not attend the meeting.
  • In terms of participants, Ryan Koeslag of Mushrooms Canada had been invited to participate as a youth representative on the Horticulture Value Chain Roundtable (HVCRT) in support of the youth engagement strategy. Bill Stensson resigned as a member of the roundtable and as a member of the Water Task Force.
  • Christiane provided an update on Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) priorities relating to a number of federal initiatives of particular interest to the HVCRT, such as support to the food processing sector, trade, and research and innovation; development of a national food policy; and contributions to cross-governmental initiatives on climate change and clean technology.

Horizontal cross-roundtable update

  • Brief updates were provided on the activities related to the work of the various All-Chairs Value Chain Roundtable (VCRT) subcommittees, including the Agri-Subcommittee on Food Safety (ASFS), the Business Data Working Group, and the Regulatory Sub-Committee (RSC).
  • Of particular interest for the HVCRT was the work of the ASFS. Heather Gayle from CanadaGAP Program provided an update on the ASFS, and expressed the view that the ASFS has been a leader on safe food program. She also informed the HVCRT that the United States (U.S.) and Canada governments have signed an agreement to recognize each country's food safety protocols. The agreement will be continuously updated to reflect updates in the programs.

Next Policy Framework consultation

  • Andrea Johnston, Director General, Sector Development and Analysis Directorate, AAFC, provided an update on the development of the Next Policy Framework (NPF), and sought feedback from industry stakeholders on the six priorities identified in the July 2016 Calgary Statement. A summary of HVCRT discussions is provided in Annex C.

Research and innovation

  • Sylvie Jenni, Manager of the Science Partnerships Division, Science and Technology Branch, AAFC, presented information in relation to AAFC science support for the horticulture sector. There was discussion of the work of the Roundtable's Access to Research and Innovation Working Group including its recommendations towards future science programming. The discussion can be summarized as follows:
    • Industry members affirmed the value and importance of continued research programs, noting particular considerations for horticulture. As many horticulture organizations and businesses are small to medium-sized, industry members would like to see a funding split of 75 percent government and 25 percent industry.
    • Members also supported long-term stable funding; streamlined financial reporting; opportunities to maintain or grow existing research capacity; and funding for knowledge transfer. HVCRT members see opportunity for horticulture as a solution-provider for climate change, and noted that climate change and sustainable production practices should be recognized and included as eligible areas for research. Collaboration on research activities between industry, academia and government researchers was identified as critical.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency consultations

  • Brian Double, Manager of the Strategic Initiatives Division of Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA) Plant Health, and Biosecurity Directorate, made a presentation on CFIA's proposed new Plant and Animal Health regulations. Patricia McAllister, National Manager of the Horticulture Section, did a presentation on the Agency Transformation Agenda including new proposed user fees. Industry members were asked to consider what they needed to do to be ready for the anticipated changes. Industry members recognized the need to be engaged in consultations and the communication of CFIA's plans to ensure readiness.
  • Industry acknowledged CFIA's work on biosecurity. Most horticultural commodities now have a biosecurity plan, but more needs to be done to disseminate related information and tools to producers. Industry members were also appreciative of CFIA's electronic service delivery system, with most indicating that they have food safety programs in place and are prepared for CFIA's changes in this area.

Climate change / environment

  • Alexandre Lefebvre, Director of Environment Policy at AAFC, presented the Government's priorities to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions with respect to climate change and the environment. It was explained that Canada has a target. Each province will develop and implement its own approaches, and that action to meet the objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions will be expected of all sectors. There was extensive discussion on the impact of carbon pricing/tax policy/cap-and-trade measures on the sector, energy was said to be the most expensive input in greenhouse production; additional taxes on natural gas could raise heating costs for greenhouses by 30 percent. There is worry that this could drive producers to move to lower cost centres in the U.S.
  • There was subsequent discussion of the Roundtable's Sustainability Working Group's (SWG) potential role in responding to this issue on behalf of the sector. It was highlighted that the mandate of the SWG may have been too large to allow it to be able to function effectively and deliver concrete results. It was suggested that the SWG should focus on current and emerging issues where it can have an impact through information sharing, planning and co-ordination. Long-term efforts should be led and managed by the national associations.
  • The current chair of the SWG, Brian Gilroy, stepped down and Andrew Morse will take on his role. The new chair will also follow-up on the Sustainability/Climate Change Sub-Committee that has been created by the All Chairs Forum to ensure HVCRT input and coordination of the activities between the two groups.

Pest Management Regulatory Agency reviews

  • Scott Kirby, Director General of the Environment Assessment Directorate of Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), provided an update on recent review decisions on certain neonicotinoid pesticides. In response to questions, Mr. Kirby affirmed that PMRA actions were based on evidence from multiple data sets and respected sources. He noted that AAFC's multi-stakeholder forum to be held on December 21 would provide an opportunity for industry to bring forward information to help refine risk mitigation measures (for example, exempting greenhouses if it can be demonstrated that there is no effluent). Mr. Kirby also explained that it is anticipated that U.S. regulators would likely come to the same scientific conclusions in their evaluation of neonicotinoids. However, unlike Canada, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is required to undertake an economic cost-benefit analysis prior to the publication of the interim review decision, which is different from the PMRA decision process, which focuses solely on environmental and human health impacts and not economic factors. Therefore, while the scientific findings of the risk assessments may be similar, the risk mitigation decision may be different between the EPA and PMRA. Concerns were expressed by industry regarding the environmental, cost and trade considerations of alternatives if neonicotinoids were discontinued.

Public trust

  • Kim McConnell (from AdFarm) delivered a presentation suggesting actions for value chains to undertake to build public trust, and was seeking HVCRT financial support for a proposed governance structure (a Steering Committee or "Hub") that would provide infrastructure and leadership across value chains for action on public trust. A number of questions were raised regarding the proposed "Hub" and the HVCRT declined formal support at this time. Brian Gilroy will participate in the upcoming meeting in Toronto on February 9, 2017 and will report back to the HVCRT.

Key issues / forward planning

  • Co-chairs led a discussion of emerging and priority issues for Roundtable action identified in pre-consultations with members. These were categorized as follows:
    • Energy and Environment (including green infrastructure)
    • Interprovincial trade and export
    • Federal-Provincial Issues (Business Risk Management (BRM)/crop production insurance, carbon pricing)
    • PMRA product registration/Access to pest control products.
  • While other issues, including labour, public trust, and particular environmental initiatives remain of high importance to the sector, it was agreed that the Roundtable should focus on two issues for immediate action. Andrew Morse of Flowers Canada agreed to champion work on the carbon pricing issue, while Rebecca Lee of Canadian Horticultural Council (CHC) agreed to lead work on issues related to product registration and access to pest control products. The Ornamental Working Group will consider green infrastructure opportunities.
  • In addition, it was agreed that there needs to be an underlying strategy for communicating the work of the HVCRT including common messages, and wider distribution of Roundtable products. Both the Canadian Horticulture Council and the Canadian Ornamental Horticulture Alliance agreed to have their respective communications specialists review the HVCRT website to identify how to maximize its usage; and to communicate with their members to draw attention to it as a resource. Further, the group agreed that closer cooperation between the HVCRT and national associations could help leverage other networks, and results from HVCRT work.

Other business

  • Gaps in HVCRT membership were discussed. An updated list of current members will be circulated. Members were invited to bring the names of potential new members to the attention of the Co-Chairs for consideration, through the Roundtable Secretariat.
  • The next HVCRT meeting is tentatively planned for mid-to late-November 2017.

Annex A: Action items and recommendations

Meeting / Item Number Action Items Responsibility Next Steps / Timelines
18-1 Next Policy Framework: HVCRT members to seek opportunities to advance common messages on Business Risk Management and research programs discussed at the HVCRT meeting. All organizations Ongoing
18-2 Communications/Information sharing: Identify strategies and options for HVCRT Knowledge Transfer to ensure VCRT reports are widely available and products and recommendations are utilized and leveraged; and that the sector is widely engaged at an early stage in other initiatives discussed at the VCRT. Victor Santacruz / Industry Engagement Division (IED) / CHC / COHA April 2017
18-3 Communications/Information sharing: Post the Report of the Access to Innovation Research Working Group on the HVCRT- FTP site, along with background information gathered on research funding models in other jurisdictions. Also to post on FTP site, other reports and links on the HVCRT discussed at this meeting, including the Labour Working Group Report, and the link to Canadian Food Inspection Agency's consultations IED Done
18-4 Research: Access to Innovation and Research Working Group to discuss cluster funding models. Hans Buchler March 2017
18-5 Environment: A plan will be developed for Roundtable action on the potential impacts on the sector of carbon pricing. Andrew Morse June 2017
18-6 Environment: The Sustainability Working Group will review its workplan; and assess the benefits of joining the Working Group on Sustainability and Climate Change of the All Chairs Forum. Andrew Morse June 2017
18-7 Pest Control Products: A plan will be developed for Roundtable action on access to pest control products. Rebecca Lee June 2017
18-8 Ornamentals: The Ornamentals Working Group will proceed with a renewal process of its membership and agenda. Andrew Kuyvenhoven June 2017
18-9 Public Trust: Brian Gilroy will attend the Public Trust "Hub" meeting in Toronto and gather more information on questions raised by Roundtable members. Brian Gilroy On-going

Annex B: Participants

Co-chairs

  • Keith Kuhl – Industry Co-Chair; Southern Manitoba Potato Company Ltd./Canadian Horticultural Council (CHC)
  • Christiane Deslauriers – Federal Co-Chair; Director General – Science and Technology Branch (STB), Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC)

Industry

  • Andy Kuyvenhoven – Kuyvenhoven Greenhouses Inc./Canadian Ornamental Horticulture Alliance (COHA)
  • Brian Gilroy – Ontario Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association
  • Hans Buchler – BC Wine Grape Council
  • Bill Stensson – COHA/Sheridan Nurseries
  • Andrew Morse – Flowers Canada
  • André Plante – Association des producteurs maraîchers du Québec/Conseil québécois de l’horticulture
  • Rebecca Lee – CHC
  • Pierre Petelle – Croplife Canada
  • Victor Santacruz – Canadian Nursery Landscape Association
  • Alison Roberson – Ontario Fruit and Vegetables Association

Industry observers

  • Michel Touchette – COHA

Youth representative

  • Ryan Koeslag – Mushrooms Canada (by phone)

Academia/research

  • Jim Brandle – Vineland Research & Innovation Centre

Provincial governments

  • Laurie Adrien – Ontario Ministry of Agriculture – Food and Rural Affairs
  • Judy Grant – Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture (by phone)
  • Robert C.J. Spencer – Alberta Agriculture and Forestry

Federal government

  • Sylvie Jenni – STB, AAFC
  • Shelly Binch – Employment and Social Development Canada, Sector Council Program Division (by phone)

Guest speakers

  • Andrea Johnston – Sector Development and Analysis Directorate, AAFC
  • Brian Double – CFIA
  • Patricia McAllister – CFIA
  • Kim McConnell – Consultant, AdFarm (by phone)
  • Alexandre Lefebvre – Environment Policy Division, AAFC
  • Scott Kirby – PMRA
  • Heather Gale – CanadaGap Program

Federal observers

  • Della Johnston – AAFC, Science and Technology Branch
  • Leslie Farmer – AAFC, Pest Management Centre
  • Farid Makki – AAFC (by phone)
  • Patricia Tolton – AAFC, Ontario Regional Office (by phone)
  • Stephanie Mitchell – CFIA, Strategic Partnerships Division (Outreach & Engagement) (by phone)
  • Jennifer Desroches – AAFC, Program Branch (by phone)
  • Dustin Remillard – AAFC, Midwestern Regional Office (by phone)
  • Jill Jensen – AAFC, Strategic Policy Branch – Enviroment Policy Division
  • Jane Morisset – AAFC, Market Access Secretariat (by phone)
  • Stéphane Audet – AAFC (by phone)

Federal support

  • Sheila Jones – AAFC
  • Maxine Grier – AAFC
  • Gayle Smith – AAFC
  • Stephen Page – AAFC
  • Ron Gerold – AAFC
  • Violette Jacques – AAFC
  • Claudine Routhier – AAFC
  • Regina Palamar – AAFC

Annex C: Next Policy Framework – Horticulture industry input

Markets and Trade

  • Food Safety Regulations should be simplified to ease product marketing.
  • More consistency should be applied in regulations application between inspectors, and from one product to the other, to level the playing field in market development activities.
  • Technical issues should be addressed including:
    • Demand for issuance of electronic phytosanitary certificates and a variety of other phytosanitary issues.
    • Harmonization of Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) and registration/re-evaluation of crop protection products. The difference in how Canada handles MRL’s compared to the U.S. puts Canadian producers at a disadvantage. The Canada-United States Regulatory Cooperation Council has to be successful in ensuring harmonization of the regulations between the Pest Management Regulatory Agency and the U.S. Environmental Policy Agency.
    • MRLs affecting ginseng trade directly into China.
    • Interprovincial trade barriers.
  • Labour remains a key issue. Unless, the sector goes to more substantive automation to ensure competitiveness and productivity; measures must be taken to improve access to labour. In this respect, review of Temporary Foreign Workers Program continues to be a high priority.
  • A marketing strategy should be developed to help promoting the sector contribution to the environment through its carbon retention capacity. However, research is needed to validate this claim.
  • Horticulture development should be promoted in public common spaces to support healthier environment.

Science, Research and Innovation

  • Industry strongly supported continued research programs. Long-term stable funding, streamlined financial reporting, new research capacity, funding for knowledge transfer and research into sustainable production practices to support climate change were all identified as priorities. Members also noted the importance of collaboration on research activities between industry, academia and government researchers.
  • Programs should allow cost-share of up to 75 percent.
  • Cluster programs should be accessible at the regional level since crops and issues vary across the country.
  • Various funding models for programs should be considered taking into account differences in sector organizational and financial capacity.
  • Public research on pesticides should remain, there are many markets to cover and issues to address that the industry cannot support alone.
  • Ensure that adaptation to climate change, changing consumer preferences and sustainability production practices, which are key research priority areas for the horticulture industry, are adequately funded.
  • Innovation (Agri-Innovation Program) and research (Cluster Program) should be kept separated as funding sources. Funding should be allocated to projects that can demonstrate measurable benefits through innovation.
  • Program Branch should ensure that programs are rolled out early (Spring 2017) to allow for activities to begin in April 2018.

Business Risk Management

  • BRM/crop production insurance remains a priority for the horticulture industry, goals and priorities should be better defined. For example, under the AgriStability program, changes that were made under Growing Forward 2 (GF2) which reduced the reference margin have resulted in many producers dropping out of AgriStability. Program criteria should be reviewed to match the sector needs.
  • AAFC programs often do not reflect that higher-tech modern production processes used in some sectors such as greenhouses are larger businesses with more capital and revenue; some program caps are set well below what they should be.
  • Producers who aggressively identify and address risk factors become ineligible for government programs such as Agri Stability and Crop Insurance.  These producers are demonstrating good sustainability practises and are generally leaders in agriculture.  Government should look to use producers as models to encourage others to identify risks and find solutions.

Environmental Sustainability and Climate Change

  • In response to the federal and provincial governments’ climate change priority, program eligibility should include initiatives, from both horticulture and ornamental sectors, related to reducing GHG emissions, increasing efficiencies, life cycle assessment, etc.
  • There is a need to develop tools to adequately measure carbon release from the agricultural sector.
  • Green infrastructure programming should be included in the NPF. The ornamental industry is implementing a campaign to inform the public about their contribution to sustainability and funding should be accessible to prove this claim.
  • Consultations should be conducted on carbon pricing with the horticulture sector to assess potential impact on markets and exports.
  • Carbon pricing revenue should be reinvested in the agriculture sector to support projects at 100 percent that will aim to reduce carbon output and encourage sustainable and best management practices.
  • Carbon pricing should be established at national level as opposed to provincial level, to allow for more consistency (harmonization) in terms of application and tax levels.
  • Consumers expect environmentally responsible practices from the industry, consequently, industry welcomes support from government to help them adapt to environmental issues such as water and waste water management and other related issues such as energy usage and improved/reduced packaging.
  • NPF should support the development of a certification to assess farm sustainability
  • Environment regulations need to be science-based.

Value-Added Agriculture and Agri-Food Processing

  • Automation needs to be developed to reduce the need for foreign labour.
  • Service-oriented businesses such as landscaping, and retail centers such as garden centers such be recognized as admissible constituents of agriculture with access to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada programs.

Public Trust

  • Regulations are a common factor across all agricultural sectors, therefore consumers need to fully trust the regulation system and be educated on food production regulations and practices in order to build consumers/public trust.
  • Communication is key to build trust and to promote environment benefits of the horticulture and ornamental sector, funding should be allocated to cover communication activities.
  • While the Roundtables are expected to continue to lead, national organizations are expected to contribute financially to allow a coordinator to be hired to address public trust collectively. It is difficult for the industry to determine its path forward if it doesn’t know its present location in terms of food safety and sustainability. It is suggested that funding be provided to carry out these assessments.

Other issues

  • Young farmers need support to be integrated into the agriculture sector; as it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to enter into the agriculture business.
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