Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Egg board investigation continues

The investigator appointed to look into governance at the Egg Farmers of Ontario marketing board has asked for more time to complete a report that was due this month.

In a brief interim report, the investigator says the Ministry of Finance reviewed the egg board’s finances and found no fault.

But the investigator said he wants more time to check out allegations, filed with the Strathroy police, that there has been fraud at L.H. Gray and Sons Ltd. related to egg grading.

The report says egg grading is under the jurisdiction of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency so the egg board has little involvement.

Ot also says egg grading will have little impact on revenues for the egg marketing board, but will influence returns for individual producers.

The egg board's revenues are based on a levy charged only on Grade A eggs and there are allegations filed with the commission that eggs that do not qualify are being classified Grade A.

That would inflate revenues for egg farmers and would be selling something to customers that is not up to the standards claimed on the packaging.

The investigator says he will be watching the ongoing civil lawsuit between Svante Lind’s Best Choice Eggs and the egg board, L.H. Gray and Son Ltd. and Burnbrae Farms Ltd.

Lind claims that the three conspired to drive him out of business and that part of that conspiracy involved fraudulent egg grading.

The interim report indicates the lawsuit is in early stages. In fact it has been going on for years and has yet to reach a point where the litigants know how much of a trove of electronic information from Gray’s business will be allowed as evidence in the case.

The report notes that there is a higher percentage of Ontario eggs going “nest run” directly to processors.

Ontario not only directs eggs from older flocks directly to processors but also runs an “eggs-for-processing” program under which flocks are exclusively producing for the processing market at a reduced price.