Lawrence MacAulay, Canadian Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (right), participated in a cooking demonstration led by Chef Michael Smith at an event to raise awareness of issues important to Canada’s fruit and vegetable industry. (Photo courtesy Canadian Horticultural Council)

Industry leaders from the Canadian Produce Marketing Association and the Canadian Horticultural Council met with parliamentarians and civil servants Nov. 7-8 in Ottawa.

With NAFTA renegotiations still ongoing, the industry representatives stressed the importance of free and fair trade agreements, and also advocated for government support of increased produce consumption through a new food policy for Canada, according to a news release.

CPMA and CHC also discussed labor issues and the need for financial protection for produce sellers, according to the release.

“The fresh fruit and vegetable industry plays a significant role in supporting Canada’s goals to provide safe, affordable and accessible product year-round. The produce supply chain had an estimated economic impact of $15.7 billion in real GDP and supported 181,566 jobs in 2016, all the while encouraging healthy eating habits,” CPMA chairman Rick Alcocer said in the release.

“The federal government needs to assume a leadership role in offering accessible fruit and vegetable options to all Canadians, from coast to coast to coast,” Alvin Keenan, CHC president said in the release.

Following the meetings, the produce industry groups hosted a reception featuring Half Your Plate ambassador chef Michael Smith, including a cooking demonstration by Smith with Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Lawrence MacAulay.

Discussions take place between Canadian parliamentarians and produce industry representatives.
Produce growers and industry representatives from all over Canada participate in a workshop to prepare for meetings with over 50 parliamentarians. (Photo courtesy Canadian Horticultural Council)