Food and Farm roundup for Jan. 8

Fire at Puslinch stables
The fire chief of a self-proclaimed “horse community” near Cambridge called a fire that struck a horse barn Monday night killing more than 40 racehorses “absolutely devastating.” Chief Steven Goode said the massive blaze at Classy Lane Stables in Puslinch, south of Guelph, needed the combined efforts of 50 firefighters from the town and surrounding communities to be quelled. The fire started around 11:00 pm Monday evening, which saw frigid temperatures as low as -20 C. A neighbour reportedly noticed the fire and called it in. The barn’s owners, Barb Miller and her husband, were on vacation in Florida at the time but have since flown home to assess the damage. Goode described the fire as a “multimillion-dollar” blaze that was unprecedented in the township.
Among the standardbred animals lost in the fire were some owned by the country’s most respected trainers and owners, such as Ben Wallace and Brad Grant, who had raced for hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize winnings, mainly at the Mohawk, Woodbine and Flamboro Downs racetracks in southern Ontario.
Goode said the fire was first reported by a neighbour who spotted the blaze at the barn located about 20 kilometres south of Guelph.
The cause of the fire is still being investigated.
U.S. Congress repeals country of origin labelling (COOL) requirements for beef and pork products.
After a 2015 World Trade Organization ruling cleared the way for Canada and Mexico to impose over $1 billion in retaliatory tariffs on American products over the U.S.’s Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) policy on beef and pork, the U.S. government responded late last month by voting to repeal those requirements.
“Effective immediately, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is not enforcing the COOL requirements for muscle cut and ground beef and pork,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has said.
Canadian and Mexican meat producers had petitioned to the WTO that the American policies, which involved labelling packages in groceries stores with information on where animals had been born, raised, and slaughtered, were protectionist measures meant to support the American meat industry, in violation of international trade policies.
The repeal was included in an omnibus funding bill and signed by President Barack Obama on Dec. 18.
International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland called the news “a real vindication of the power and significance of the WTO dispute-resolution mechanism, which has secured a real win for Canada,” and said the decision would “have a real and immediate benefit to the Canadian economy.”
Asian Carp in Lake Erie
A new study into fish populations in Lake Erie shows that, if Asian carp are able to successfully breed there, the invasive species could become the lake’s most common fish. The study by universities and government agencies in the U.S. and Canada used computer models to project that Asian carp species could eventually make up about one-third of the total fish weight in Lake Erie, which has the most fish of the five Great Lakes. Such a fluctuation would reduce numbers of popular sport species like walleye and rainbow trout, along with prey species including gizzard shad and emerald shiners. Imported to the southern U.S. from Asia decades ago, bighead and silver carp have since migrated northward and become serious nuisances. They eat tiny plants and animals that other fish need. The research team plans to develop similar models on the potential effects Asian carp could have on Lakes Michigan, Huron and Ontario.