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Agriculture, fish, water, small business at y2k hearings Thursday

Jeff Atkinson with the Canadian Federation of Agriculture will be
presenting to Industry Canada tomorrow (Thursday) in Ottawa. These hearings
are extremely important. We will be discussing these hearings when we meet
again next Tuesday, May 18, 5:30pm, Centretown Community Health Centre, 420
Cooper St.

Anyone can walk in anytime and view the proceeedings as a "witness." Few do
because there is usually no publicity for Parliamentary Hearings, and they
happen during the day. This time, it will be part of a day jam-packed with
interesting presentations on the Retail sector, municipalities, water and
waste, mining, fishing etc. Full info at http://y2k.inode.org, the very
first two links.

HOW TO GET THERE IF YOU'RE IN OTTAWA: Go to the Centre Block ground floor
entrance on Parliament Hill and tell security, "I'm here as a witness to
view the y2k hearings by Industry Canada, room 253-D." They will sign you
in and direct you.

Jeff is available for speaking engagements on y2k. The CFA has no official
position on y2k. However, Jeff personally opposes stockpiling: 

"Thanks for the notice about the Centretown meetings. I'm a resident of
Centretown and share some of your Y2K concerns... however I think you may
be jumping the gun if you are already talking about stockpiling food.
"I'm also the Communications Coordinator for the Canadian Federation of
Agriculture and have been working closely with Agriculture and Agri-Food
Canada over the past number of months on the whole issue of Y2K and its
impact on the food production, distribution, and retail industry.
"What you might want to do, first, is ensure that Centretown residents'
homes and businesses are on their way to being Y2K compliant. The best way
for all of us to be collectively prepared for this problem is to reduce the
level of Y2K risk in that little part of the world for which we are
"Following this, Centretown residents need to know the risk of disruption
that are associated with essential municipal services such as telephones,
electricity, water, fire, ambulance and other emergency services. This
information is available through the RMOC.
"As for the food supply, I can tell you that the risk posed by Y2K is
minimal. The greatest risk to the food supply (for Centretown residents)
are those Y2K problems which threaten the ability of food to get into and
be properly stored in the local grocery stores... those being the essential
municipal services.
"Rather than having people fill their basements with potatoes, I think
Centretown residents would be better served by putting pressure in their
local politicians and local governments to ensure that these disruptions do
not occur. Only when it is obvious that the food supply is at risk should
people be encouraged to spend their hard-earned dollars on the stockpiling
of food (and act which in itself poses the greatest threat to the local
food supply... especially for the poor)."

We are distributing a flier (also on our website) which encourages
reasonable stockpiling of food. We still have doubts that the food supply
is immune to y2k disruptions. We abide by the Precautionary Principle:
"When an activity raises threats of harm to the environment or human
health, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and
effect relationships are not fully established scientifically." (From
Wingspread Consensus Statement on the Precautionary Principle,

Here is Jeff's first testimony to Industry Canada last November at

Finally, below is Industry Canada's summary of Jeff's testimony last

>>From the Thirteenth Report (Interim) Standing Committee on Industry.  
>The committee reports and recommends, but does not direct.  That is 
>for the govenment to decide.

>Agriculture and Mining Sectors 

>The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA), which represents 
>through its members over 200,000 Canadian farm families from coast to 
>coast, explained that this industry only started its Year 2000 
>efforts in early 1998. The CFA's booklet on the Year 2000 problem and 
>farmers has been prepared and distributed and the CFA has a Web site 
>on the issue. The Committee was informed that, in general, the 
>processing industries are well on their way but farms tend not to be 
>prepared. As with many sectors, embedded chips are found throughout 
>in such equipment as milking machines, feeding systems, and 
>environmental controls. The farm sector needs information that is 
>farm-specific as well as greater access to expertise.  
>The CFA mentioned the "Rural Factor" as one of the unfortunate 
>realities of living and operating a business in rural and remote 
>areas. For example, failures of power or of pumps at the local gas 
>station or disruptions in telephone services, will last longer than 
>similar events in more heavily populated areas. Similarly, 
>replacement equipment will take longer to deliver and it will 
>probably require outside expertise for installation and later repair. 
>A part of one of the CFA's recommendations would allow farmers 100% 
>immediate write-off for emergency power generators needed as part of 
>their Year 2000 contingency planning. The Committee has already sent 
>a letter to the Minister of Finance in support of this request 
>(Appendix B is a copy of the letter). The Committee has  
>concerns that farmers may not have sufficient time and expertise to 
>become Year 2000 ready. 

Best wishes,

Terry Cottam, y2k-ottawa@inode.org, (613) 236-6433
* Centretown Contact, y2k Regional Preparedness Group
* Ottawa-Carleton Community Preparedness website: http://y2k.inode.org
* Subscribe to preparedness discussion, y2k-news, y2k-events (info on website)

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