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Cdn. ag groups participate in National Supply Chain Summit

Cdn. ag groups participate in National Supply Chain Summit

Pulse Canada and the Canadian Canola Growers Association were among the invited groups

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

The Canadian agriculture sector had a seat at the table Monday during the first National Supply Chain Summit.

The meeting, which included the federal ministers of transport (Omar Alghabra), agriculture (Marie-Claude Bibeau), innovation, science and industry (François-Philippe Champagne), trade (Mary Ng), labour (Seamus O’Regan) and employment (Carla Qualtrough), addressed challenges facing Canada’s supply chain in multiple sectors and identified potential solutions.

The Canadian Canola Growers Association (CCGA) was among the agriculture organizations to attend.

The summit included a larger discussion with ministers and groups, and separate smaller meetings with ministers and groups related to their mandates.

The CCGA’s message to Minister Bibeau highlighted how the ag industry’s success relies on investments today and tomorrow, said Dave Carey, the CCGA’s vice president of government and industry relations.

“Canola travels an average of 1,500km from farm gate to tide water to be in an export position,” he told Farms.com. “To feed that hungry world that wants our products, we need today’s infrastructure and increased infrastructure tomorrow.”

And, infrastructure investments cannot be tied to whichever political party is forming the government of the day.

Any solutions to supply chain issues must include opposition parties to ensure plans will proceed accordingly.

“If we’re talking 15-year infrastructure plans, we can’t change direction based on the federal government,” Carey said. “I suggested bringing in federal and provincial representation and include opposition parties, so we can get buy in from everyone, and it helps industry hold any party accountable because they would’ve been included in those conversations.”

Pulse Canada attended the summit as well.

Greg Cherewyk, the organization’s president, attended on its behalf.

The number of attendees and ministers alone sent a message of the importance of Canada’s supply chain, he said.

“We initially understood there would be five ministers involved and roughly 50 participants on the list,” he told Farms.com. “By the time we started there were six federal ministers, some provincial ministers and far more than 50 participants.”

Pulse Canada’s approach to the meeting included advocating for getting the right people in place for each individual supply chain.

“Every supply chain is unique and there’s not going to be a one size fits all solution,” Cherewyk told Farms.com. “In our industry alone, we move product a handful of ways and each of those individual supply chains have their own challenges. We need to create task forces that really engage all the players from those supply chains.”

And task forces are being created.

The Supply Chain Task Force will work with industry experts on recommendations for short- and long-term actions related to the supply chain. Transport Canada is also creating an online portal for stakeholders and businesses to provide opinions and suggestions.

Another topic of discussion during the summit was data.

Industry and government need to study data thoroughly to understand where the issues occur along the supply chain.

“We need to understand where the choke points are and where the vulnerabilities are so when we look for solutions, we can look at a full mix of solutions,” Cherewyk said. “Solutions can come in different ways, but we need to know what needs to be addressed.”

The National Supply Chain Summit is the first of additional planned discussions.

Regional and industry sessions will take place to continue dialogue.

The attending ministers held a news conference after Monday’s summit and thanked participants for their input.

“To those in our agriculture industry, I want to thank them to share their concerns, suggestions, and ambitions,” Minister Bibeau said. “I know there are no short-term fixes. Addressing the challenges facing the Canadian supply chain are diverse.”

Minister Bibeau's comments are at the 9:16 mark of the video.




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