Be prepared for visits from WorkSafe BC
Be prepared for visits from WorkSafe BC
June 12, 2013

In the last year, WorkSafeBC has significantly increased enforcement within agriculture and employers with high payrolls, claim counts, injury rates, base rates and hazard rating should expect to see an officer at some point if they have not already.

In the last year, WorkSafeBC has significantly increased enforcement within agriculture and employers with high payrolls, claim counts, injury rates, base rates and hazard rating should expect to see an officer at some point if they have not already.

Officers will focus their efforts on identifying whether employers have formal and informal health and safety programs, Joint Health and Safety Committees if required, confined space identification and entry programs, lock out and working alone procedures, safe work procedures and first aid assessments.
WorkSafeBC officers will conduct inspections of workplaces to determine if there are any health and safety related violations.  If a violation of the Workers Compensation Act (WCA) or Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (OHSR) is observed, the officer will ordinarily write orders requiring the recipient of the order to remedy the violation.  The recipient/party receiving the order must comply within the period of time stipulated in the order.
Click here for more information 

Complete a quick due diligence checklist to help you determine if you are on your way to complying with the OHSR.  Any unchecked items could result in orders or administrative penalties if a WorkSafeBC officer were to visit your workplace(s).  Note: Completing all the items in the checklist does not mean you are in compliance with all the requirements in the WCA or OHSR.  The checklist serves as a guidance document to help you determine if you are in compliance with general requirements found in the WCA and OHSR
Complete the Due Diligence Checklist here

Committed to creating a safer work environment for BC's agriculture industry, FARSHA has Regional Safety Consultants and Health and Safety Specialists throughout the province to deliver on-site health and safety training, resources and advice and to help employers:
-          Implement site specific health and safety programs.
-          Comply with orders. 

To see a full list of health and safety related training, decals, posters, brochures and booklets FARSHA offers, visit our webpage's resource section or contact the office toll free at 1-877-533-1789.

Welcome Minister Pimm
Welcome Minister Pimm
June 12, 2013

On Friday June 7, MLA for Peace River North, Pat Pimm was announced as the Minister of Agriculture.  BCAC Executive Director Reg Ens, BC Greenhouse Growers Association's Linda Delli Santi and BC Cattlemen's Association's Kevin Boon were on hand to officially greet our new minister. 

On Friday June 7, MLA for Peace River North, Pat Pimm was announced as the Minister of Agriculture.  BCAC Executive Director Reg Ens, BC Greenhouse Growers Association's Linda Delli Santi and BC Cattlemen's Association's Kevin Boon were on hand to officially greet our new minister. 

On June 10, BCAC sent the following letter of congratulations to Minister Pimm, which included our top four industry priorities.

The following information about the appointment is taken from the official release from the Government of BC:

The Minister of Agriculture will be Pat Pimm. He will:

Ensure B.C. takes advantage of new market opportunities in Asia. 
 Work to break down interprovincial barriers to create new opportunities in Canada to market B.C. wine.
Work to ensure that British Columbians buy local B.C. agri-food products.

PAT PIMM

NOMINEE FOR MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE

Pat Pimm was re-elected to represent the riding of Peace River North in 2013.  He previously served as Parliamentary Secretary for the Northeast and has served as chair of the Northern Caucus and two Select Standing Committees: Aboriginal Affairs and Finance and Government Services. Pimm has also served as a member of Treasury Board.  A lifelong resident of the Peace River region, Pimm served 12 years as councillor for the City of Fort St. John from 1993 to 2005. With 25 years experience in the oil and gas industry, he was co-chair of the BC Oil and Gas Conference in 2002 and 2005, bringing together industry stakeholders to identify further strategies and opportunities for economic development in British Columbia’s northeast region. He has also served on a variety of other local community boards and committees.

Read more at  http://www2.news.gov.bc.ca/news_releases_2009-2013/2013PREM0063-000941.htm

 

Guide to Developing a BC Agriculture Employee Handbook now available
Guide to Developing a BC Agriculture Employee Handbook now available
June 10, 2013

Need to improve communication amongst managers and employees on your farm?

Need help explaining the responsibilities and benefits of working on a farm?

The Guide to Developing a BC Agriculture Employee Handbook is for you!  

You will create a farm specific handbook in a seven easy steps,using tools such as fillable check list of topics and practical examples that can be edited for your farm.

Need to improve communication amongst managers and employees on your farm?

Need help explaining the responsibilities and benefits of working on a farm?

The Guide to Developing a BC Agriculture Employee Handbook is for you!  

You will create a farm specific handbook in a seven easy steps,using tools such as fillable check list of topics and practical examples that can be edited for your farm.

This guide is relevant to a wide range of organizational structures, size of operations and number of employees.   It is also easily applicable to different kinds of operations, such as livestock, dairy or horticulture.

The Guide to Developing a BC Agriculture Employee Handbook (Fall 2012) is now available on the BC Ministry of Agriculture Website at http://www.agf.gov.bc.ca/busmgmt/labour_mgmt.htm

For more information and/or to request a hard copy of this guide, contact:

Jennifer Curtis P. Ag.
Farm Business Development & Industry Specialist
B.C. Ministry of Agriculture 1767 Angus Campbell Road Abbotsford B.C. V3G 2M3
Phone (604) 556-3083 Toll Free 1-888-221-7141
Jennifer.Curtis@gov.bc.ca

Visit us at www.smartfarmbc.ca

 

CFA May Activities
CFA May Activities
June 10, 2013

Canadian Federation of Agriculture has been active on several files in May, including farm partnership income reporting, Seeds Act Regulations, food safety as well as an important farmland investment study.  

Canadian Federation of Agriculture has been active on several files in May, including farm partnership income reporting, Seeds Act Regulations, food safety as well as an important farmland investment study.  

T5013 Reporting Requirements

CFA has convened a June 3rd stakeholder session with tax practitioners from across Canada and representatives of the Canada Revenue Agency to discuss 2011 changes made to farm partnership reporting that have resulted in unnecessary administrative burden and posed difficult reporting deadlines on many low-risk farm partnerships. CRA has committed to exploring a farm partnership exemption or other means to address these concerns, with the June 3rd stakeholder session serving as a chance to hone in on root issues and address the complete scope of stakeholders concerns. 

Seeds Regulations

CFIA has proposed amendments to the Seeds Act Regulations that would move oilseed soybean and forage species (alfalfa, bird's foot trefoil, bromegrasses, canarygrass, alsike clover, red clover, sweet clover, white clover, fescues (forage type), lupin, orchardgrass, ryegrasses, timothy, wheat grasses, and wild ryes) from Part I to Part III of Schedule III to the Regulations.

Crops placed in Part III can be introduced without pre-registration testing (field trials and sometimes laboratory testing) or merit testing so there is less oversight from an independent recommendation committee before the introduction of species. This means varieties could reach the market sooner and with less registration cost if companies feel there would be a market for them. This also increases the risk on producers that the varieties made available to them will not meet the merits under which they are sold. 

 In 2012, CFA passed a resolution from KAP requesting that the CFIA should not change the process for the introduction of new varieties of forage species into Canada. Forages are different from most field crops as the development of seeds receives fewer resources and there are also less farmer funded pre-registration trials. Therefore the forage industry relies more on the pre-registration testing/merit testing undertaken by seed companies than other field crops. Placement into Part III would potentially reduce the amount of pre-registration testing of forage species. 

 The CFA has developed the following key messages on this issue:

Forages are a unique case and should have some oversight, particularly the widely used species: alfalfa, red clover, timothy (forage  type), orchardgrass, meadow bromegrass and smooth bromegrass.

Reduced public and private funding has resulted in decreasing test sites for forage species. This results in national forage registrations based on regional trials and the increased farmer reliance on post-registration trials to assess the viability of the forage species; largely conducted by local soil and crop associations and extension services.

The CFA recommends that major forage species should be placed in Part II as this will require companies to still do pre-registration testing and help maintain some of the existing forage trial sites.

A transition of major forage species to Part III could occur once:

Seed developers, government and farmers work together to develop an adequately resourced long term and stable system to ensure regional pre and/or post registration trials on performance and yield occurs for major forage species. 

Food Safety

At the 2013 AGM, CFA members passed a resolution calling for the CFIA to receive sufficient resources to inspect meat destined for both domestic and export markets. The announcement on May 17 by Minster Ritz provides an outline of how CFIA will improve their inspection of meat processing plants.  The new requirements will come into effect July 2, 2013 and include some of the following:

Federally-registered plants will be mandated to develop a protocol outlining how they will review and respond to trends in their E. coli O157:H7 test results and provide a quicker response if a high risk pattern of positive results is detected. 

Plants that process into ground beef or beef patties will need to conduct additional testing for bacteria and develop protocols to ensure the safety of their product if testing indicates above acceptable levels.

All mechanically tenderize beef cuts must have labels indicting it has been tenderized and cooking instructions must be included for consumers.

The CFIA will increase its sampling and testing frequency during summer months when E. coli O157:H7 is commonly observed at a higher frequency.

The CFIA will also increase the number of overall samples taken per year per plant based on the risk associated with the size of the plant, the plants record and the product being produced. 

The CFA will continue to work with government on food safety issues as they roll out these initiatives as part of their "Safe Food for Canadians Action Plan" beginning with the June 4th Food Safety Regulatory Forum.

Bill C-60 - House, Senate & CFA Comments 

 

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance completed its study of Bill C-60 (An Act to implement certain provisions of the Budget tabled in Parliament on March 21, 2013) without any amendments. The Bill includes changes to the temporary foreign workers program that permit government to review and revoke work permits and to charge cost-recovery fees for the program in sectors other than agriculture;  changes to the General Preferential Tariff (GPT) treatment; and investments in Genome Canada and the Nature Conservancy of Canada. CFA President Ron Bonnett served as witness at Committee, citing concerns with anticipated changes to the temporary foreign workers program, as well as support for the research investments and the changes to the GPT. 

This Bill is now being studied by the Senate Standing Committee on National Finance, where the CFA has again been invited to speak in a session at 2 pm on June 5th.

 

BCAC Responds to PICS white paper on climate change
BCAC Responds to PICS white paper on climate change
May 30, 2013

 Media Release

Abbotsford, BC

 Media Release

Abbotsford, BC

The BC Agriculture Council welcomes the release of the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions’ white paper called Strengthening BC’s Agriculture Sector in the Face of Climate Change.

The following response statement is from the Chair of the BC Agriculture Council, Rhonda Driediger: 

This report highlights a lot of the concerns of the agriculture industry in BC.  As farmers we are in the business of adapting, but conditions are changing more rapidly now, at a time when both the federal and provincial government have scaled back their roles in agricultural research, extension and funding. The agriculture industry is burdened with not only additional risks and responsibilities, but also with an overwhelming number of new regulations and standards that government is implementing.  As this report has identified, the policy makers do not always fully understand the unintended consequences on farmers and ranchers in BC.  We need to take steps to strengthen our sector in view of climate change, with better communication linkages between the policy makers and farmers.

The BC Agriculture Council (BCAC) is the province’s umbrella farm organization. We are a council of commodity groups and, through our members, represent 14,000 of the 20,000 B.C. farm families who, in turn, generate 96 percent of the farm gate receipts in British Columbia. Agriculture is the third largest resource sector in the province.

-30-

To view the Media Release from the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions:

http://pics.uvic.ca/news/news-releases

­­

For more information about the BC Agriculture Council, please contact:

Cheryl Davie, Manager, Policy & Communications

BC Agriculture Council

604-854-4454

communications@bcac.bc.ca

 

 

 

BCAC responds to cuts at AAFC
BCAC responds to cuts at AAFC
May 10, 2013

The BC Agriculture Council is concerned about the how cuts at Agriculture and Agri-food Canada (AAFC) will affect industry’s ability to respond efficiently and effectively to research priorities.  

The BC Agriculture Council is concerned about the how cuts at Agriculture and Agri-food Canada (AAFC) will affect industry’s ability to respond efficiently and effectively to research priorities.  

On May 9, 2013, approximately 700 AAFC scientists, research directors, engineers and technology specialists received “workforce adjustment notices” and it has been estimated that 400 positions may be fully eliminated.  While BCAC was aware of potential cuts, there has been no clarity around plans or expressed commitment to public research, use of closed facilities, or succession planning for retired agricultural research scientists.

The union representing the employees said the notices were given to 144 commerce officers, 79 scientists, 76 IT specialists, 29 engineers, 14 biologists, 5 research managers and 3 procurement officers.  The bulk of the cuts are in the Ottawa region (154) with 22 in British Columbia.

“We’ve not been able to confirm the details for BC, but believe that the grassland research centre in Kamloops will be closed, the poultry research centre in Agassiz will be closed or moved and at least two soil scientist positions in Agassiz will be eliminated” stated Reg Ens, Executive Director at the BC Agriculture Council.  “We are worried about losing important long term research that is being done in these locations.”

BCAC, through our national counterpart, CFA have been calling for a long-term vision – a food and farm strategy for the agriculture and agri-food sector - to ensure policies aren’t created that undermine the long-term interests of the sector. Promoting the Canadian Brand – at home and abroad – is a key objective in the industry-led National Food Strategy. 

The following is the official response from our federal counterpart, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture:

·        The federal government has played an essential role in past research, with the goal of supporting Canadian agriculture producers so they can remain competitive. However, over the past several years, we have seen many research facilities closures and the elimination of scientist and research support positions at AAFC.  The ongoing cuts – including those announced yesterday – continue to raise concerns in the agriculture community.

·        On May 9th, AAFC issued “workforce adjustment notices” to approximately 700 employees -  primarily scientists, research directors, engineers and technology specialists in the Science and Technology, and Market and Industry Services branches.  It has been estimated that 400 positions may be fully eliminated.  

·        The union representing the employees said the notices were given to 144 commerce officers, 79 scientists, 76 IT specialists, 29 engineers, 14 biologists, 5 research managers and 3 procurement officers.  The bulk of the cuts are in the Ottawa region (154) but also throughout the country: Saskatchewan (49), Manitoba (33), Quebec(26), British Columbia (22), Alberta (21), Ontario (19), Nova Scotia (13), New Brunswick (8), PEI (3), Newfoundland (2).

·        The Market Information Services branch is responsible for providing publications like the annual Overview of Canadian agriculture, farm income forecasts, medium term outlooks, and other income/financial data books that are important for the sector to develop financial-related policy. The regional offices of the branch also provide a single window access to AAFC programs and services for farmers.  In addition, the branch provides trade statistics, take part in trade shows, and are also responsible for many export assistance activities as the Agri-food Trade Services are under this branch.

·        It is unclear how the proposed staffing cuts will impact the important services of this branch or if farmers will see reduction in program delivery services. Clarity is needed around how staff reductions in the Science and Technology Branch will impact the research capacity of AAFC in Ottawa and across the country and whether AAFC will continue to have the staff to respond efficiently and effectively to industry driven research priorities.

·        We were aware of potential cuts in light of the Budget, but there has been no clarity around plans or expressed commitment to public research, use of closed facilities, or succession planning for retired agricultural research scientists.

·        These cuts and the lack of clarity undermine recommendations from the agricultural community. Industry has been calling for targeted public funding dollars spent on primary and applied agricultural research. It has also been calling for a long-term plan and commitment to research – as a necessary part in ensuring an innovative, sustainable sector. It is unclear how these continued cuts will further the agenda of innovation set forth by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada – noting the strong interrelation between sustained innovation and public funded research. The agriculture sector has consistently asked that public funded research dollars be increased and better targeted to help ensure Canadian Agriculture and the Canadian Brand remains innovative, ahead of the curve and a leader in international markets.

·        Promoting the Canadian Brand – at home and abroad – is a key objective in the industry-led National Food Strategy. This is a great example of why industry has been calling for a long-term vision – a food and farm strategy for the agriculture and agri-food sector - to ensure policies aren’t created that undermine the long-term interests of the sector.

Specific asks relating to Research:

 o   Allow external resources to use AAFC infrastructures and laboratories through partnerships with research firms

o   Grant financial support and equipment to local organizations that may want to may want to use research sites targeted for closure

o   Maintain research positions of primary importance to the agriculture sector to ensure long term research work is not lost. 

o   Recognize the industry’s capacity for investing in research by setting reasonable percentages for the industry contributions to research and development programs

 

o   Facilitate access to research and development tax credits for business