Kevin Smith – Reflections on the first five months

I am pleased to have been selected as the new Vice-President of Operations for the Fruit and Vegetable Dispute Resolution Corporation. I have big shoes to fill moving into the position as Fred Webber takes his retirement and Luc Mougeot becomes President and CEO. The warm welcomes received so far are much appreciated!

Prior to joining the DRC, I occupied various positions with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Prior to joining the CFIA I worked in the private sector within the meat, dairy, and confectionary industries.

The CFIA is a regulator with a broad mandate. Within the food business line, the CFIA mandate includes food safety, consumer protection, and trade and commerce. While I was originally heavily involved with food safety, my career path at CFIA increasingly steered me towards consumer protection and trade and commerce.

I was fortunate to have worked with the DRC as the CFIA liaison officer to the DRC Board of Directors. I had become familiar with the culture of DRC and found it to be extremely open and professional with a profound passion for contributing to the wellbeing of the fruit and vegetable sector. It is an organization that I grew to admire and respect.

Changing jobs and organizations means joining a new team and learning about the business in detail. Upon joining the DRC, I was impressed with the scope of activities that the DRC undertakes with the fresh fruit and vegetable sector. While the core business of the DRC is dispute resolution, questions are also received on a variety of other subjects including food safety, tariffs, and products stuck at the border. The DRC works closely with members, allied associations, and governments to provide its expertise to benefit the industry. All of this makes a DRC membership a valuable investment. The DRC takes its mission seriously and I quickly became involved in compliance related activities to ensure that our bylaws and operating rules remain respected. At the DRC I found a dedicated respectful environment that values the contributions of everyone.

I will continue to work collaboratively building on my past experiences. The DRC will continue to work on a variety of issues including grade requirements, Destination Inspection Service, and on standards with the international community. We are embarking on the development of a renewed strategic plan and I am excited about developing new opportunities for the DRC.

As the pandemic runs its course, and face-to-face opportunities increase, I will be engaging to learn more about the fruit and vegetable industry to best serve our membership, and accelerate our growth as a respected international dispute resolution body.

I am proud to be a member of the DRC and look forward to serving the fruit and vegetable industry and meeting many of you.