Small Scale Food Processor Association
Site 43, C-53
Fanny Bay, BC V0R 1W0
(250) 335-3001


   

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sound bits

Internet Newsletter
Small Scale Food Processor Association (SSFPA)
Site 43, C-53, Fanny Bay, BC V0R 1W0
(250) 335-3001
November 2003


New Meat Inspection Regs are Coming

There is probably no more complex or controversial issue facing the Canadian food sector than the safety and inspection of meat. New regulations are being drawn up; whether you are a livestock producer or a meat processor in BC, they will affect you!

The inspection rules are intended to apply across the province, providing consistent standards for all slaughterhouses. The new system will require ante- and post-mortem inspection of all animals at the point of slaughter by a government inspector. Inspection costs are currently borne by government; however, shared payment of costs between government and plant operators is under review. Check out the draft regulations along with supporting manuals and guidelines.

If you are a stakeholder in the meat and poultry industry, your comments on these draft regulations are being solicited. They can be forwarded to the Ministry of Health Planning by writing directly to Kersteen Johnson, Executive Director, Health Protection Planning Division, 4th Floor, 1515 Blanshard Street, Victoria, British Colombia, V8W 3C8. Meetings to discuss your comments/questions can also be arranged should more formal discussions about the draft regulations be desirable.

Your comments are requested no later than Monday, December 1, 2003. SSFPA has been informed that the Ministry of Agriculture and Food wants BC's meat industry to remain viable and needs to know what processors require in the face of new regulations and consumer concerns. This could include modifications to the proposed regulations, training, and financing for capital improvements. But no one will know what you need unless you read the draft regulations and make your concerns known!


Report from the Food Processors Alliance of Canada (FPAC)

SSFPA's Coordinator, Frank Moreland, recently chaired the fifth annual meeting of FPAC. This organization fosters industry-wide communication leading to more effective action on behalf of food and beverage processing companies. It emphasizes that food processing contributes $64 billion worth of goods to the Canadian economy and 249,000 jobs to the Canadian economy (2001 figures) and must be given more recognition by government policy makers.

Frank notes that many of the same issues affect both small and large processors. Click here to read Frank's report, with its discussions on:

  • Voluntary GMO Labelling;
  • UPC Barcode Cost Sharing Project;
  • The US Bioterrorism Act;
  • Mandatory Nutritional Labelling; and
  • FPAC feedback on the Agricultural Policy Framework and a program called "Advancing Agriculture--Setting a New Course for Pathfinding."

A letter from FPAC's chair (Ted Johnston), recommending policy guidelines to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, can be found here.


Co-ops: An Alternative Business Model

The BC Co-operative Association is holding a one day seminar on November 21 in Abbotsford, BC, highlighting the advantages of the co-op model in the context of agri-business ventures. The targeted audience for the seminar are agricultural producers/processors associations, extension workers, lending agents and financial institutions, agricultural training institute personnel, community economic development workers, and others advising farmers and processors on new market options. The deadline for registration has been extended to November 14. For more information, click here and here.


SSFPA Business Planning for Shared Services & Membership Benefits

Would you like to share services with other small processors and buy packaging and other source materials in bulk? Would you like to join with others to develop a flexible marketing and distribution network? SSFPA is conducting a business planning project with these goals in mind. Support for this initiative comes from CEDTAP (Canadian Economic Development Technical Assistance Program) and VanCity Credit Union. A 17-member steering committee is providing both vision and practical advice as the project develops.

The SSFPA is also exploring the feasibility of membership benefits: medical and dental insurance, liability insurance, and more effective mentoring services. The Business Plan Development project is looking at how to combine business services with non-market services like the above insurance programs. For more information, see next month's "sound bits."


SSFPA Membership Extension & Board of Directors Contact List

SSFPA's Board of Directors has decided not to invoice members for dues until early in 2004 and to extend current memberships. The SSFPA is working very hard with limited resources to prepare a package of member benefits (see above) that will meet the needs that small-scale food processors around Western Canada have identified as critical to their future success. Once a package is fully prepared that the Board feels it can be proud to offer - and that will be feasible for it to administer - members of the SSFPA will be contacted about renewals and 2004 dues. To read the memo announcing this policy - and for a contact list of our Board of Directors - go to this page of our web site.


Cyber-Help For Farmers

This training program (sponsored by the BC Certified Organic Program) is a single three-hour session that familiarizes participants with computers and computer terminology. Both hardware and software aspects are explored with an emphasis on finding useful agricultural information online. Cost is $25.00 per person, and includes a take-home instructional CD. The instructor, Randi Paul, has been a farmer herself, and has extensive experience teaching computer skills.

Upcoming "cyber-help" workshops this month are in Duncan, Courtenay, Salt Spring Island, Summerland, and Creston. Click here to find dates, locations, and contact information for most of these events. For the Salt Spring Island session (November 14), call John Wilcox at 539-5942 .


Do You Have a Question about Nutritional Labelling? We Probably Have the Answer!

Must all pre-packaged foods carry a Nutrition Facts label? What laboratories should be used for product analysis? Can food manufacturers use databases to generate their Nutrition Facts information?

Lance Hill, our contact at Health Canada, has provided SSFPA with a document containing answers to these and many more questions on the new Nutritional Labelling regulations. There is far too much information to include it in "sound bits," but we've placed the document here and strongly encourage you to read the material and bookmark the page.

Quick Bits ... Quick Clicks

Health Canada's public consultation on the revision of the "Guidelines for the Safety Assessment of Novel Foods Derived from Plants and Microorganisms" concluded on September 30, 2003. Although deadline for public input has passed, you may still be able to submit comments by contacting Lance Hill at Health Canada, ASAP.

Food Safety Workshop: Vancouver, November 13. What are the common food hazards? What Canadian food regulations deal with food safety? Click on this link to find out about the workshop addressing these questions or call 1-800-333-3333. A draft agenda is also available.

Agro-Forestry Workshops: Farmers, ranchers, First Nations, and other land-holding stakeholders may find opportunities in this emerging sector. A series of workshops is being held in November in Vernon, Cranbrook, Abbotsford, and Prince George. Information and a registration form is available from the link.

Proposed Raw Meat Labelling. Health Canada is considering a regulation requiring all raw ground beef and poultry to carry a safe handlng label. The objective would be to improve food safety by providing consumers with a consistent message about steps they can take to reduce the risk of foodborne illness when handling and cooking these products. For more information, check the above link.

An Evening All About Apples, Victoria, BC: LifeCycles invites you to this event on Sunday, November 23 at Spinnaker's Brew Pub. $50/ticket for a gourmet five course dinner infused with local apples and stories from local farmers. For more information call Tara at (250) 383-5800.

Christmas Craft Fair, Victoria, BC: The season for giving will soon be upon us. One of SSFPA's members, Jana Wessel of Earth's Herbal Organic Tea & Herb Company, is organizing a weekly indoor craft fair at a location on Johnson Street during December. The cost for four Saturdays is $15/day, 11 am - 9 pm. There will be live festive music in the evenings and shoppers will be encouraged to linger and enjoy hot cider or tea. Sounds like a great opportunity. If you are interested in taking part, call Jana ASAP at (250) 250-884-5459.


Other Upcoming Events

The Ag Aware Calendar http://www.agaware.bc.ca/Events/list_events.asp. No reason for us to re-invent the wheel, when AgAware produces such a good calendar. Here you'll find an excellent listing of upcoming activities.


Join Our Newsletter Network

If you'd like a monthly e-mail update of sound bits, contact us and we'll put your name on our list serve. It's a quick and easy way to find out what's happening in the "small scale" food world.


SSFPA Reports, Sound Bites Newsletters, and the Living Inventory

SSFPA has carefully presented and archived all its reports and its "Sound Bites" newsletters. These documents cover pretty much everything that has been discovered, discussed, and accomplished in the last two years of organizing and establishing this organization. Explore our goals, our past, and our present by going to our Documents page. [Note: directing others to this web site is a good way to familiarize them with the general issues facing small scale agriculture and food processors.]

SSFPA members can also gain access to the Living Inventory via our web site. The Living Inventory is an interactive data base which serves as an electronic marketplace, enabling small processors and producers to buy and sell products, inputs, and services from one another. To learn more about SSFPA, contact Mary or Frank as noted below:

Small Scale Food Processor Association
"We're Big on Small"
(250) 335-3001 or (250) 380-1947
E-mail: memdev@ssfpa.net
Web site: http://www.ssfpa.net/DocsForms/DocsForms.htm

 

Related Links and List Serves

For information on sustainable food economies, community economic development, and other issues of concern to the small-scale food sector, we recommend these:

Agribusiness Accountability Initiative: This organization promotes collaborative responses to corporate power in the global food system. Its website offers a comprehensive overview of problems and solutions related to his issue.

Centre for Alternative Technology: The Centre is the UK's leading provider of environmental, sustainability and alternative technology and lifestyle publications. You can learn about ecological sewage treatment, building, architecture, alternative energy, organic gardening, composting, biofuels, green education, sustainable careers and energy conservation.

Farm Folk/City Folk: FarmFolk/CityFolk is a non-profit society, based in British Columbia, that wants one simple thing: for people to eat local, fresh, seasonal foods, grown using farming practices that contribute to the health of the planet.

International Association for Food Protection: Founded in 1911, this is a non-profit association of food safety professionals. Comprised of a diverse membership of over 3,000 Members from 50 nations, the IAFP is dedicated to the education and service of its members as well as industry personnel

Rangeland: An awesome collection of information on agriculture and food-sector business in Australia - with plenty of international information and links as well.

Organic Consumers Association: Look for articles on genetically modified food and fair trade issues along with general information about organic food production. If you'd like regular updates from OCA through its "Biodemocracy News," contact biodemocracy@lists.organicconsumers.org.