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Produce industry cultivates support on Parliament Hill

Representing the diversity of the Canadian produce industry and to strengthen the industry's voice with elected officials, the Canadian Horticultural Council and the Canadian Produce Marketing Association hosted industry representatives from across the produce supply chain during the 2012 Fresh Harvest Event.

Building on momentum from the 2011 initiative, participants engaged in a series of meetings to stimulate collaboration with select Members of Parliament from across the country. Discussions focused on food safety, financial risk mitigation and the effect of the produce industry on the health of Canadians. Members of Parliament were engaged and encouraged more frequent interaction with the produce industry in order to foster better understanding and improved cooperation.

"It is promising to see that our elected officials are genuinely interested in the issues we were able to bring to their attention," CPMA Chair Jim DiMenna said in a press release "We can look ahead at working together to support both government and industry mandates to improve the health of Canadians, and as we address other issues of interest."

The targeted meetings, which also included three separate consultations with Suzanne Vinet, deputy minister of agriculture and agri-food Canada; Cameron Prince, vice president of inspection modernization for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and at the U.S. Embassy with Jeff Weiss, associate administrator, Office of Information & Regulatory Affairs from the Office of Management and Budget at The White House, were conducted over several days in November. Fall Harvest Event discussions provided an opportunity to engage in open dialogue and nurture a better understanding among government officials, elected and otherwise, about the produce industry in Canada and its effect on the Canadian marketplace and the overall health of Canadians.

"The time spent with Government officials as part of this year's Fall Harvest Event allowed us to build on relationships forged last year and further emphasize our core issues and message," CHC President Murray Porteous said in the release. "It's clear that we're making headway and that our voices are being heard on behalf of our members and the entire produce industry in Canada."

Preparations are already underway to build on the momentum next year. "We're encouraged by the response we've received over the last two years," added Mr. DiMenna "We'll continue to build on that momentum on behalf of both Associations' members in 2013."