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Third tentative deal reached in B.C. port strike

Third tentative deal reached in B.C. port strike

The Canada Industrial Relations Board helped negotiate the terms

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

More than 7,000 striking dock workers in B.C. could return to work soon after their union and employer association reached a third tentative agreement.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada and the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association issued a joint statement on July 30 signaling they’ve reached common ground.

The parties “have concluded a negotiated collective agreement today with the assistance of the Canada Industrial Relations Board,” the statement says. “The Parties are recommending ratification of the collective agreement to the union’s membership and member employers respectively.”

Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan used his authority to bring in the Canada Industrial Relations Board.

This board works with federally regulated sectors to ensure “harmonious industrial relations.”

Failure to reach a tentative agreement would’ve seen the board impose a new deal on the parties or impose final binding arbitration to bring the strike to an end.

Since the initial strike started on Canada Day, multiple ag industry groups have raised concerns about how the disruption is affecting the sector.

Nineteen organizations, for example, penned a letter to the prime minister on July 11 explaining that “loss of export sales will have a significant and negative impact effect on our farm families and those employed throughout our supply chain.”

And once the strike does end, it’s unlikely ag products will receive special attention.

Other goods will be handled first, leaving agriculture with further delays, said Ian Chitwood, vice-chair of Alberta Canola.

“The bulk commodities and intermodal transport gets first priority,” he told following the union’s first rejection. “They’re going to try to fix those backlogs first for the manufacturers and retailers. If a ship has to wait it’s going to be a grain ship.”

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The Investment Opportunities of Industrial Hemp

Video: The Investment Opportunities of Industrial Hemp

The fledgling U.S. hemp industry is decades behind countries like Canada, France and China, but according to impact investor and this week’s podcast guest, Pierre Berard, it could flourish into a $2.2 billion industry by 2030 and create thousands of jobs.

To reach its potential, what the hemp industry needs most right now, Berard said, is capital investment.

Last month, Berard published a report titled “Seeing the U.S. Industrial Hemp Opportunity — A Pioneering Venture for Investors and Corporations Driven by Environmental, Social and Financial Concerns” in which he lays out the case for investment.

It’s as if Berard, with this report, is waving a giant flag, trying to attract the eyes of investors, saying, “Look over here. Look at all this opportunity.”

Berard likens the burgeoning American hemp industry to a developing country.

“There is no capital. People don’t want to finance. This is too risky. And I was like, OK, this sounds like something for me,” he said.

As an impact investor who manages funds specializing in agro-processing companies, Berard now has his sights set on the U.S. hemp industry, which he believes has great economic value as well as social and environmental benefits.

He spent many years developing investment in the agriculture infrastructure of developing countries in Latin America and Africa, and said the hemp industry feels similar.

“It is very nascent and it is a very fragmented sector. You have pioneers and trailblazers inventing or reinventing the field after 80 years of prohibition,” he said. “So I feel very familiar with this context.”

On this week’s hemp podcast, Berard talks about the report and the opportunities available to investors in the feed, fiber and food sectors of the hemp industry.

Building an industry around an agricultural commodity takes time, he said. According to the report, “The soybean industry took about 50 years to become firmly established, from the first USDA imports in 1898 to the U.S. being the top worldwide producer in the 1950s.”

Berard has a plan to accelerate the growth of the hemp industry and sees a four-pillar approach to attract investment.

First, he said, the foundation of the industry is the relationship between farmers and processors at the local level.

Second, he said the industry needs what he calls a “federating body” that will represent it, foster markets and innovations, and reduce risk for its members and investors.

The third pillar is “collaboration with corporations that aim to secure or diversify their supply chains with sustainable products and enhance their ESG credentials. This will be key to funding the industry and creating markets,” he said.

The fourth pillar is investment. Lots of it. Over $1.6 billion over seven years. This money will come from government, corporations, individual investors, and philanthropic donors.

The 75-page report goes into detail about the hemp industry, its environmental and social impact, and the opportunities available to investors.

Read the report here: Seeing the U.S. Industrial Hemp Opportunity

Also on this episode, we check in with hemp and bison farmer Herb Grove from Brush Mountain Bison in Centre County, PA, where he grew 50 acres of hemp grain. We’ll hear about harvest and dry down and crushing the seed for oil and cake.