Sat, 14 March 2009
Canadian Beef Consolidated Further
Deconstructing Dinner examines the recent takeover of Canada's largest beef packing plant - Lakeside Packers, located in Brooks, Alberta. The plant maintains a capacity to process 4,700 head of cattle each day (that translates to a whopping 43% of all beef processed in Canada... from one facility!). The takeover leaves Alberta-based XL Foods with 51% control of Canadian beef and leaves just two companies controlling 83%.
In light of the recent and largest meat recall in Canadian history, we now know just how much of an impact that a tainted product from one company (Maple Leaf Foods) can have on Canada's food supply. The idea of any further consolidation in the meat packing sector, would, understandably, leave an already shaky Canadian public quite concerned.
To learn more about how this takeover might impact Canada's beef producers and the beef-eating public, we hear from the Compeititon Bureau's Denis Courriveau and the National Farmers Union's Fred Tait.
Backyard Chickens V (Farming in the City VII)
If the thought of two companies controlling 83% of Canadian beef produced from only five plants turns you off of industrial protein, there is of course the increasingly popular alternative of finding some protein in your backyard. While digging up insects may be an option, backyard chickens might be easier, and for Vancouver residents, much easier! On March 5, Vancouver's city council unanimously approved a change to the city's bylaw that has long prohibited backyard chickens. Vancouver is now preparing itself for a backyard chicken revolution.
We also hear from the familiar and entertaining Bucky Buckaw, as he responds to listener questions on whether chickens can be trained to do tricks!
Fred Tait - Manitoba Coordinator, National Farmers Union (NFU) (Rossendale, MB) - Fred and his wife have raised beef cattle all of their life on their farm in Rossendale, Manitoba (southwest of Portage la Prairie). The NFU "works toward the development of economic and social policies that will maintain the family farm as the primary food-producing unit in Canada". The National Farmers Union is the country's only voluntary, direct-membership national farm organization. Less than two weeks before Fred spoke to Deconstructing Dinner, he was in Ottawa speaking to the Standing Committee on Agriculture on the state of Canada's beef producers.
Denis Corriveau - Senior Competition Law Officer, Industry Canada - Competition Bureau - (Gatineau, QC) - The Competition Bureau is an independent agency that, according to their web site, "contributes to the prosperity of Canadians by protecting and promoting competitive markets and enabling informed consumer choice." Headed by the Commissioner of Competition, the Bureau is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the Competition Act, the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act, the Textile Labelling Act and the Precious Metals Marking Act. The basic operating assumption of the Competition Bureau is that competition is good for both business and consumers.
Jeff Nield - Operations Manager, FarmFolk/CityFolk (Vancouver, BC) - FarmFolk/CityFolk Society is a non-profit society that works with farm & city to cultivate a local, sustainable food system. They develop and operate projects that provide access to & protection of foodlands; that support local, small scale growers and producers; and that educate, communicate and celebrate with local food communities.
Bucky Buckaw - Host, Bucky Buckaw's Backyard Chicken Broadcast (Boise, ID) - Bucky Buckaw gives advice on raising backyard chickens as just one example of how a locally based economy can work. Through this segment, he informs listeners about the downside of factory farming and what kinds of toxic chemicals you can expect to find in the resultant livestock. He promotes organic gardening and composting, and supporting local farmers.