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


   

 


 
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Internet Newsletter
Small Scale Food Processor Association (SSFPA)
Site 43, C-53, Fanny Bay, BC V0R 1W0
(250) 335-3001
May-June 2004


SSFPA News

  • Western Grocer promotion. Our deadline to provide Western Grocer with our members' contact and product information is mid July, and we are now looking at being in the pre-Christmas issue. More information will be available on this as we begin our membership drive, plus see the item below entitled, "Don't Pass Up This Marketing Opportunity." To read the kind of article that appears in Western Grocer, click here.
  • Membership Drive. A representative from SSFPA will be contacting members to present this year's members benefit package and the process for paying annual membership fees. If you are not a member of SSFPA, make sure you read the next issue of sound bits for a description of the benefits package and the membership forms for you to join. For more information, contact frank@ssfpa.net.

  • Shared Services Co-operative Business Plan. The SSFPA Board of Directors is completing the approval process for a co-operative that will benefit small-scale food entrepreneurs. If you would like a copy of the Executive Summary once it is approved, send an e-mail with the words "exec summary" in the subject line to frank@ssfpa.net.
  • Shared Services Co-operative Pilot Project on the Vancouver Islands. The SSFPA Co-operative Development Initiative (CDI) pilot project is working in partnership with the Electronic Commerce Council of Canada (ECCC) to develop a bar code sharing system. This could be directly tied to regionally branding value-added food products. Elements of the pilot project on the Vancouver Islands can also be delivered to all SSFPA members depending on the strength and willingness of existing regional organizations positioned to partner with these strategies the SSFPA is developing. For more information contact frank@ssfpa.net.
  • Food Safety Committee Model. For a model of the type of Food Safety Committee currently being looked at by SSFPA, check out the article in Au Courant newsletter (from the Food and Consumer Product Manufacturers of Canada) entitled, "Ontario Government Introduces HACCP Advantage Program." [Note: there's more relevant news from that issue which you'll find in the "bar code" item below.]

 

 

Investment Ag Foundation: "We're Here to Help You....."

...get innovative ideas off the ground for the benefit of business and the industry as a whole." The Investment Agriculture Foundation (IAF) of BC is a non-profit organization that invests federal and provincial funds to help the agri-food sector adjust to change. Ag has also formed the BC Food and Beverage Processor's Council, of which SSFPA is a member. It also sponsors the Food and Beverage Processing Industry Initiative, a $1.5 million fund for implementing industry goals and strategies. The types of activities which may be funded through the Initiative include research and development, training and education, technology development and transfer, market development, communications, and environmental enhancement. Cost sharing between the governments and industry - on a 50/50 basis - is a key principle of the Futures Fund. Find out more about the Initiative here.

News for Albertans

A good summary of what's going on in your province can be found at the monthly newsletter of the Alberta Food Processors Association.


Eating Up the Earth: How Sustainable Food Systems Shrink Our Ecological Footprint.

Everything we do leaves an impact, an "ecological footprint." This policy statement from the Redefining Progress organization identifies strategies for shrinking the size of our footprint, with an emphasis on food production: "The food sector provides a golden opportunity to reduce our ecological deficit through sustainable consuption and production, regionalism, and steady-state economics." Read more here.


Update on Monsanto-Schmeiser Case: Round One to Monsanto.

Last month, sound bits carried an item about Percy Schmeiser, who was visiting Powell River, BC. Schmeiser is the Saskatchewan organic grain farmer who has been locked in battle with mega-food/chemical giant, Monsanto over gene patents. (Monsanto accused the farmer of patent infringement because some its product, genetically engineered seeds, had taken root on Schmeiser's land.)

On May 21, The Supreme Court of Canada narrowly decided in favour of Monsanto. The 5-4 ruling allows biotech corporations monopoly control over seeds, plants, and their proency on the basis that they consist of cells containing patented genes - either intentionally or as a result of GMO (genetically modified organism) contamination. The political battle regarding patents on life forms will continue, as Parliament will undoubtedly be called upon to clarify the law.

Meanwhile, the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate's Organic Agriculture Protection Fund is supporting legal action by certified organic farmers seeking compensation for damages caused by GMO canola contamination. Click here to find out more.


A Model for Action: US Department of Agriculture Backs Down

Stung by a nationwide backlash by the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) members and the entire US organic community, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced May 26 that it would rescind controversial policies that would have undermined organic standards and violated federal law requiring public input. In April, the USDA announced that it would no longer monitor organic labels on non-food products, and added that pesticides, animal drugs, growth hormones, antibiotics, and tainted fishmeal would be allowed on organic farms. In response, the OCA launched a media campaign to pressure the USDA into reversing its controversial directives.

A landslide of faxes, emails and phone calls hit the USDA; meanwhile other consumer groups joined the fray, the Organic Trade Association rallied industry support, and a class action lawsuit was prepared. The USDA capitulated on May 26, when it became clear that 30 million organic consumers in the US were not going to accept the agency's practices.


Council of Canadians' Elections Discussion Forum

The writ has been dropped, the candidates are on the campaign trail, and the Council of Canadians wants to get people talking. Online and interactive, the Council's new Federal Elections Discussion Forum is a place to discuss issues that affect Canadians. Whether or not our politicians put these priorities on the agenda, the Council is encouraging citizens to ask their candidates about such issues as genetically engineered foods, factory farming, and corporate lawsuits under NAFTA's Chapter 11. The forum is divided into four main sections:

  • On the Campaign Trail" is designed for people to discuss timely and emerging election issues;
  • "The Canada You Want" is divided into categories based on the Council's core campaigns;
  • "The Parties" provides a space for people to chat about the various political parties, and how they are faring during the campaign; and
  • "Talking to Politicians" is divided according to province, and is designed to allow people to record statements that candidates are making at all-candidates meetings, on people's doorsteps, and in the media.

Grassroots Comments on Bird Flu Economic Impact

This is an important "food security" issue that affects us all! Does the factory farming of chickens provide fertile ground for a crisis? Does factory farming of all of our other food do the same? Is it time to re-localize our food systems?

Make your voice heard! This is not just a Fraser Valley problem!

Western Economic Diversification is funding three Fraser Valley Community Futures Development Corporations to collect quotes and present these concerns about the bird flu economic impact to WD.

Heidi Trautman is working at the Sto:lo Community Futures and would like to hear concerns from First Nations and Organic stakeholders. Do you eat organic? You are a stakeholder. This is how we can get the grassroots social and ecological concerns heard, to help balance the factory farm profit concerns that usually are heard above all else.

Please phone Heidi at 604-858-0009 or e-mail at trautman@dowco.com.


Did You Know.....

In BC, only 20% of our food is produced at home. Eighty percent of our food is imported. We believe that if this ratio is reversed, we will reclaim our food systems, create many jobs throughout the "value chain," and revitalize communities. Who are we?

  • Farmers who wish to increase farm income, save our farms and communities.
  • Urban dwellers who love food and wish to create jobs for ourselves.
  • Most of us are women!

Learn more about this "out of the box" analysis from this presentation given by SSFPA representatives Frank Moreland and Sandra Mark at the conference, "Building Sustainable Food Systems in Southeastern BC," held in March, 2004. This forum was hosted by Growing Green, a collaborative project of West Coast Environmental Law, Farm Folk/City Folk, and the Liu Institute for Global Issues. The Growing Green project has just wrapped up and has many reports available on its web site that are of interest to small-scale agri-entrepreneurs.

It Doesn't Have to Be This Way! (A Comparison)

Can you imagine why Quebec adds value to 85% of their produce, and BC adds value to 15%? One explanation is that Quebec has the advantage of a strong "social economy." The SSFPA recently joined the Canadian Community Economic Development Network (CCED-NET). The business plan of the SSFPA contains language and strategies to describe the "social enterprise" the SSFPA is creating as a "shared services co-operative" pilot project on Vancouver Island in 2004-05.

To understand more about the "social economy" and "social enterprise," read this press release from CCED-NET. You might also want to check out this excerpt from the government of Canada's last budget speech and hold it accountable for the improvements needed!

Bar Code News for Retail Importers: Will You Be Ready for 2005?

Quoting the latest issue of Au Courant, the newsletter of the Food and Consumer Product Manufacturers of Canada: "Currently products coming into the U.S and Canada that are identified with data structures other than the 12-digits U.P.C. cannot be stored in North American company databases. However, in the year 2005 a change is coming that will open up a whole new era of global supply chain efficiency. In 2005 the 13-digit trade items making their way around the world will be recognizable by almost 1,000,000 companies in over 100 countries.... Canada and the United States are the only countries still continuing with the 12-digit U.P.C. symbol. Retailers who import foreign goods and cannot handle a 13-digit bar code must re-tag them – a costly labour-intensive process fraught with the possibilities for error." For more information, go to the latest issue of Au Courant at the FCPMC web site.


First Nations Nutrition and Health Conference

This conference will be held on June 17 and 18 at the Squamish Nation Recreation Centre in North Vancouver. Click here for details on the program and for registration information. The focus of the conference is to assist in the "development of novel ways and means to reclaim the health of the people of the First Nations." This is the only independent forum of its kind in Canada. The FNNGC relies solely on volunteer help and does not rely on financial support from governments, corporations, foundations, or aboriginal organization.


Revised Guide to Food Labelling and Advertising

The Guide to Food Labelling and Advertising (the Guide) has been extensively revised to reflect amendments to the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR) relating to: mandatory nutrition labelling on prepackaged foods, changes to criteria for nutrient content claims, and conditions and criteria for diet-related health claims.

The revised Guide, called 2003 Guide to Food Labelling and Advertising (the 2003 Guide), is intended to be a reference document for the food industry, government, health professionals, and consumers that describes sometimes complex regulatory requirements and policies in plain language. The regulations mainly proceed from the Food and Drugs Act, the Food and Drug Regulations, and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and Regulations. The Guide is also an important inspection tool for use by CFIA staff.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency requests your comments on the new Guide which can be submitted until December 31, 2004.


A "sound bits" Evaluation

We're still contemplating the future of sound bits, the on-line publication you are reading right now. In order for us to plan its future, we encourage our readers to complete an on-line evaluation form and submit it to us. The evaluation is simple and quick, and will help us to determine whether sound bits can become self-supporting, through subscription sales and/or advertising. Click here for the form.


Anti-GM Foods Movement Picks up Steam in UK

Although noted for his commitment to the US-led war in Iraq, Tony Blair's support for corporate food policies is less known in this side of the world. His apparent willingness to allow the planting of genetically modified crops is attracting increasing opposition in a nation where only 14% of the public supports this kind of food. Read about the British reaction from the "Green Gloves" movement. [Note: the Green Gloves web site informs us that, "Only 4 countries worldwide grow 99% of all GM crops: the US, Canada, Argentina and China."]


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. Meanwhile, you can find the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's publication of the labelling rules (both current and transitional) on this page of the CFIA's web sites.


Quick Bits ... Quick Clicks

The Agri-Food Trade Service web site is Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's electronic service providing international trade and market information for Canadian agri-food exporters. Check it out for market information, export news and analysis, and much more.

The BC Food Protection Association's web site is worth a visit. The BCFPA's most recent newsletter, The Grapevine, is available here.

Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating is undergoing a review. The targeted date for completion of the update is March 2006. Go to the link to find out what changes are proposed so far.

Beyond Organic. Organic food is good for us, but an orange that's good for us costs as much to transport as one stoked with pesticides. Shopping locally and buying in-season produce are essential to the "beyond organic" philosophy. Read the article at the link.

CEDTAP (Community Economic Development Technical Assistance Program). These are the great people who helped SSFPA get started and are still investing in our cause. Windmills on the Toronto waterfront, fish processing in Saskatchewan, immigrant women sewing conference bags in Edmonton - learn more about the innovative projects CEDTAP supports all across Canada by visiting its web site.

Small Farm Canada. Learn about Canada's "other farms" in this new national publication. The editors point out that: "More than 1/2 of Canada's 246,000 agricultural operations are small farms. Yet you wouldn't know it by reading the mainstream farm press. All they talk about are tariffs, subsidies and the latest performance statistics of big tractors." Contact Wendy Henderson, Advertising Manager, for more information.

Research into the Economics of Local Food Systems. Check out the following list of research tips here. Thanks to Bonita Hutcheson for compiling this information and to the Toronto Food Council for passing it on to us. Also see the fact sheet of the International Society for Ecology and Culture in our "links" section below.


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.


Don't Pass up This Marketing Opportunity!

Do you want your name and products in a directory delivered to every grocery store in Western Canada?

The SSFPA has the opportunity to include a profile of the SSFPA in the Western Grocer magazine and to also include all processor members' contact and product information.

If you are an SSFPA member, you can take advantage of this opportunity by first reviewing and correcting your information on the Living Inventory, our interactive database. You gain access to the Living Inventory on our web site at https://www.ssfpa.net. Remember, you control the information there; so make sure addresses, contact names and numbers, and product information are all accurate to take advantage of this marketing tool.

If you forget your password, the Living Inventory will e-mail it to you at the e-mail address you had when you first activated your account. To do this, go to https://www.ssfpa.net/InfoRetrieval/InfoRetrieval1.php.

If you are not a member of SSFPA, you can join online at https://www.ssfpa.net/Registration/Registration1.php.

 

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) 973-6952
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.

Alberta Food Processors Association: AFPA and SSFPA have exchanged supporter memberships to be able to work with transparency to eventually help large and small processors in both provinces. AFPA has a great web site with both industry and consumer information galore. Check out its monthly newsletter here.

BC Co-operative Association: Co-ops have been vital to Canada's food sector for at least a hundred years. One of six autonomous regions affiliated with the Canadian Co-operative Association, the BCCA focuses on the promotion of co-operative enterprise and the provision of support services to members and the broader co-op sector in BC.

Community Economic Development Technical Assistance Program. CEDTAP is one of the most innovative and helpful economic development programs in Canada. The "Resources and Links" section of its web site is, in itself, a prime source of information for anyone involved in grassroots programs.

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.

Growing Green. A two-year, collaborative project of West Coast Environmental Law, Farm Folk/City Folk, and the Liu Institute for Global Issues, Growing Green has recently wrapped up its operations. Its web site has reports of interest to small-scale agri-entrepreneurs.

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.

The International Society for Ecology and Culture (ISEC). A non-profit organization concerned with the protection of both biological and cultural diversity, ISEC's emphasis is "on education for action: moving beyond single issues to look at the more fundamental influences that shape our lives." Students and researchers should check out its fact sheet at: http://www.isec.org.uk/factsheet.html#61.

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.

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

Toronto Food Policy Council: This organization operates as a sub-committee of the Toronto Board of Health and focuses on "a food system that fosters equitable food access, nutrition, community development, and environmental health." Regular updates are available by e-mailing tfpc@toronto.ca.


Small Scale Food Processor Association wishes to thank the following for their support!

 

The Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC assisted SSFPA by partially funding the "Field to Table" workshops in 2002-03.

CEDTAP generously supported the initial development of our shared services business plan with VanCity Credit Union. VanCity Credit Union also has provided key core assistance, helping us to leverage other funds, to improve our data management systems and our web site, and to assist our board of directors' strategic planning activities.

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