CAAR is sharing the following update from AAFC due to its impact on food chain supply issues across the country.

Following the severe flooding in B.C.’s lower mainland, AAFC is actively gathering information on the situation and the impacts to the sector and food supply chain. In an effort to keep industry informed on the situation and of key details and developments in order to better enable emergency planning within the supply chain, AAFC will send information and updates via this platform as they become available.  Below is the most recent information that AAFC has on the situation. Industry representatives are asked to share concerns or impacts via the, as was done throughout the pandemic, to ensure the department is kept informed of priorities areas of concern.

Industry is encouraged to regularly check for updates on road closures, conditions and updates.

This update was from a call on November 19.

AAFC noted that although the situation on the ground is far from over, the overall situation is improving with ongoing intensive repair and recovery efforts underway.

AAFC noted that roads continue to re-open. Even though the situation continues to evolve and some roads re-open and then have to close again due to mudslides or other issues, it is good news for the sector and supply chain.

AAFC indicated that as part of those roads re-opening, the B.C. Government is ensuring essential activities and industries are prioritized. The B.C. Government introduced two new orders under the Emergency Program Act on November 19, 2021 related to ensuring fuel (gas and diesel) is prioritized for essential vehicles and to put in place travel restrictions on roadways.

  • Those considered essential include commercial transport of goods; transporting essential supplies (including food, water and beverages); transporting livestock, agricultural or seafood products and supplies; and livestock producers returning to a farm to provide care for animals.
  • The BC MAFF is continuing to work with Abbotsford police on issuing permits that allow farmers to get through evacuation blocks.
  • To further support the sector, the BCMAFF has facilitated credential letters for private agricultural and farm-use vehicles and veterinarians supporting flood response to exempt them from the recent provincial order limiting vehicles to 30 litres per visit for fuel. An online application form launched on November 20, 2021 which all individuals and businesses were encouraged to use.

AAFC noted that with transportation routes reopening, and other actions by provincial and federal governments, there have been some improvements for the sector and supply chain since the last call.

  • Feed and water are flowing to livestock farms. With CP and CN rail lines anticipated to open shortly and ingredients starting to arrive at feed mills, the dairy sector is now being advised that they can return to normal feed ration.
  • With more relocated cows’ milk coming back on-stream, fluid milk market needs are being met, although still reduced from normal amounts. o The Canadian Armed Forces are on the ground and helping with the relocation of livestock.
  • Although transportation continues to be slower than usual, food supplies are reaching all communities, and deliveries are anticipated to continue and increase as transportation routes are stabilized/restored.
  • To facilitate transit through the U.S., significant work has been done by CBSA and CFIA over the last few days. The joint emergency protocols on this were sent via AAFC’s roundtable account on November 22, 2021 and reports have noted that about 25 domestic in-transit shipments have been made in the Okanagan crossing and 75 in the lower mainland.
  • On November 23, 2021 the CFIA’s information regarding labelling and packaging requirements was also shared via the Roundtable account. This applies for certain foods imported from the United States and sold at retail or to foodservice establishments in BC.

AAFC knows that livestock mortalities have and will continue to occur and that numbers are still being confirmed. As a result of these mortalities, carcass disposal will be a priority going forward. BC MAFF is coordinating transport and disposal of livestock carcasses and the ministry has developed a Carcass Disposal Plan. The Mortality Disposal Hotline is also active and taking calls from farmers needing assistance with disposal with calls prioritized and actioned as farms become safe to access. BCMAFF is asking that producers manage their mortalities within the barn structure until a disposal plan is in place to reduce biosecurity risk.

AAFC noted that late on November 19, 2021, BC MAFF requested an assessment toward a potential AgriRecovery initiative.  AAFC noted that they are already collaborating with the province toward establishing an AgriRecovery-based response for affected agricultural producers.

Lastly, AAFC noted that Environment and Climate Change Canada has issued an orange weather alert for coastal B.C. It forecasts another extremely wet weather pattern, starting on November 24, 2021 with a forecast of 500mm over 10 days for the coast and Vancouver Island. In addition, freezing levels will rise from 1000m to as high as 3000, which could lead to snow melt.

  • The Coquihalla Highway, Fraser Valley and Fraser Canyon are under weather warnings for 20-30cm of snow, and the City of Hope is expected to receive 30-50mm of rain until 24 Nov.
  • In addition, there is the potential for a third system to occur on 27 Nov, with weather models indicating above normal precipitation over northern BC, while most of the rest of the province will experience warmer than normal temperatures

Update on Food Labelling from CFIA

The CFIA provided an update on the targeted labelling flexibility notice that was announced on November 22, 2021 for B.C. CFIA noted that the notice indicates minimum label requirements to be met for “U.S. labelled” food. CFIA also noted that this flexibility does not provide exemptions for products that do not meet Canadian food safety requirements. CFIA noted that the scope of this notice is B.C. (in its entirety) and BC only, commodities or products that are at-risk of shortage, and only until the end of the calendar year, but can be extended if necessary.


Update from Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)

CBSA provided an update on the interim special measures for shipping through the U.S. noting that an amended joint communique with U.S. Customs and Border Protection was issued on November 22, 2021. CBSA noted that there have been some follow-up questions of clarification.
CBSA noted that the communique was targeted to carriers who do not normally travel through the U.S., as well as normal domestic shippers. All carriers are urged to consult the communique to facilitate crossing and and therefore reduce border delays. Further questions can be directed to the CBSA email account.


Update from Transport Canada

TC provided an update on the road, rail, marine and air travel situations in the lower mainland. TC also announced that a survey will be distributed shorty to select industry stakeholders to gather input on critical goods. Information gained from the survey will be used to triage product and transportation priorities as road and rail re-opens.


    • TC noted that they are holding daily conversations with CP and CN. TC noted that repairs to CP infrastructure are ahead of schedule and service has resumed, however trains are travelling very slowly (10mph) in order to test the repairs. This will remain effect until repairs are tested and confidence has been reached. CN lines are facing more complicated repairs. CN Service is expected to resume sometime November 24 or early November 25.
    • TC noted that both CN and CP have significant backlogs. Current estimates are approximately one week to clear the backlog. CN is also considering opening a low capacity line between Vancouver and Lillooet which has the capacity to handle 2 trains/day.


  • On ports, TC noted that congestion continues to grow in the B.C. ports as nothing is moving in the B.C. lower mainland, and more vessels continue to arrive. Anchorages are not yet full but are filling up. About 26 empty vessels are in port waiting for grain.
  • On the Fraser River, only essential vessels are currently permitted to operate. TC noted that water is receding however there is a lot of debris. Interim restrictions on the Fraser will stay in place for the foreseeable future. No critical marine fuel problems are currently being experienced or forecasted at this time.


  • TC noted that the Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) was cancelled on November 23, 2021 limiting aviation activity in the Sumas prairie area, therefore more air traffic is now allowed in that region. No current or anticipated shortage of rotary or fixed wing aircraft is being observed. The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) also has several aircraft in Abbotsford.
  • TC noted that the NOTAMS have been issued to air carriers for Vancouver, Kelowna and region requesting incoming aircraft to have on-board more fuel than necessary to mitigate potential shortages. TC noted that a critical supply chain working group has been established between TC and the BC government and other key agencies to facilitate distribution of critical supplies. TC has prepared a survey with a very short turnaround for industry regarding why certain products should be considered essential. TC will process the survey information and triage into categories (e.g. health, safety, etc) which will be fed out to supply chain partners in order to prioritize commodities into and out of the lower mainland.
Related articles