GFM Network News

The pandemic magnified labour issues in meat processing sectors, but it was a major problem long before the virus came to the U.S.

Meat industry triumphs over COVID-19

Prime Cuts with Steve Kay

The North American meat and poultry industry faced unprecedented challenges when the COVID-19 pandemic began to wreak havoc throughout the continent last spring. The many ways the industry tackled these challenges and returned to a semblance of normalcy in such a short time is one of the greatest stories in the long history of the […] Read more

File photo of a small greenhouse operation in Quebec. (ManonAllard/E+/Getty Images)

New pilot program for agri-food labour welcomed

Meat processors, greenhouse and mushroom growers, livestock producers get first crack at program

Ottawa -- Federal officials hope a new pilot program will help stabilize ongoing labour issues in certain sectors of the agri-food value chain, while also providing citizenship to some foreign workers. Critics, however, contend more support is needed. "This pilot will help to ensure that farmers and processors have the much-needed skills, experience and labour […] Read more

Recent online comments have unfairly targeted workers at meat-processing plants for the coronavirus outbreak.

Public education, without scapegoating, key to slowing COVID-19

As community leaders in Brooks and High River work to ensure people understand public health directives, they’re also trying to counter unwarranted condemnations

Note: This is the final instalment of a three-part series. Read the first article here. And the second article here. Alberta public health officials working desperately to curtail the spread of COVID-19 must find a way to reach the most vulnerable populations without encouraging racist undertones in online comment sections and the affected communities. Workers […] Read more

For the buy local movement to strengthen, the industry will need more small- and medium-sized processors

Worker safety starts at the plant, but it stops at home

As the communities of Brooks and High River deal with COVID-19 outbreaks, they’re finding that many people don't have the means to self-isolate within their own households

Note: This is the second of a three-part series. Read the first article here. On April 7, High River’s mayor, Craig Snodgrass, took a call from the manager of the Cargill plant, located north of the town, in Foothills County. The plant manager told him that there were six known cases of COVID-19 among the […] Read more

CME June 2020 lean hogs with 20-, 50- and 100-day moving averages. (Barchart)

U.S. livestock: Hogs pare gains as Trump plans order to keep meat plants open

Cattle up with wholesale beef prices

Chicago | Reuters -- U.S. lean hog futures hit a four-week peak on Tuesday on worries about tightening pork supplies as the coronavirus shutters meat processing plants, but the market pared gains on news that U.S. President Donald Trump plans to order such sites to stay open. June lean hog futures on the Chicago Mercantile […] Read more

(Shadowinternet/E+/Getty Images)

Pork sector’s calls for aid heard, not yet answered

Federal government says it's examining "all options"

Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau's office said late last week the government is working "around the clock" to respond to the pandemic's impact on farmers and agri-food businesses. But there was no commitment to the direct support Canadian pork industry officials say is now necessary to carry the sector through a crisis which has led […] Read more


JBS to buy U.S. meat processor Empire Packing

The U.S. arm of Brazilian meat packing giant JBS plans to expand its footprint in case-ready further processing with a deal for Memphis-based Empire Packing. Empire operates meat and poultry processing plants in its home town of Memphis as well as in Cincinatti, Denver, Olympia, Wash. and Mason, Ohio. It also makes the Ledbetter line […] Read more

File photo of a small greenhouse operation in Quebec. Greenhouse crop producers will be among the specific beneficiaries of a new federal pilot program for temporary foreign workers. (ManonAllard/E+/Getty Images)

Agriculture foreign workers get new path to residency

Updated, July 15 -- The federal government has announced a pilot program that will make it easier for farms and food companies to maintain workers they recruit from around the world. Ahmed Hussen, minister for immigration, refugees and citizenship, announced the program Friday at Maple Leaf Foods in Mississauga. Why it matters: There's a labour […] Read more


Premium Brands buys up Ontario meat processors

Specialty food firm Premium Brands' plans to build a "protein platform" in Ontario now include a pair of processors offering bacon, burgers, ribs, steaks and chicken. The Vancouver company announced Thursday it has bought Skilcor Food Products of Brampton, just over a week after closing a deal for Leadbetter Foods of Orillia. Financial terms of […] Read more