The Ontario chicken industry generates more than $2.7 billion worth of economic activity, according to a study the marketing board commissioned.
Goodness knows the Chicken Farmers of Ontario marketing board could use some favourable publicity.
Henry Zantingh, chairman of Chicken Farmers of Ontario, says it is one of the most significant drivers of the agriculture industry in Ontario.
Chicken farmers spent $342 million on feed in 2012, accounting for nearly a quarter of the sales volume of the province’s feed manufacturers.
Supplying this feed accounted for 19 per cent of all soybeans crushed in Ontario, and required 14,000 truckloads of corn to be delivered to the feed manufacturers — that’s 54 trucks on each workday of the year, the board says in a posting on its website today.
Chicken farmers and primary processors also support chick hatcheries, energy suppliers, general equipment suppliers and many employers across Ontario’s business sectors.
Federal, provincial and municipal governments collected almost $400 million directly from chicken farmers in 2012.
The Gross Domestic Product of the Ontario chicken industry is estimated at $1.4 billion.
“We can see across the province there is great economic value in chicken farming,” said Zantingh.
“But we are more than just dollars and cents. With more than 1,000 farmers and 18 primary processors located in more than 200 communities from Windsor to Ottawa, the growing and processing of chicken supports local businesses with their purchases, boosting local organizations and charities and actively building a strong rural Ontario for the benefit of the entire province.”
There are, of course, some flaws in the logic presented by the board. One is that those high feed figures arise from inflated prices.
Another is that there is a persistent shortage of chickens in Ontario, leaving significant niche markets without any Ontario-grown birds - eg. kosher and Hong Kong dressed birds.
Another is that the cost of quota is so high that chicken farming has become an exclusive club for millionaires and multi-millionaires. Almost nobody but children who inherit chicken farms and quota can break into the business.
Yet another is that the chicken board won't offer any concessions so people and geographic areas on the margins can produce chicken for local markets - eg. Northern Ontario and small-flock owners.