Monday, December 30, 2013

Independents gain tribunal status

The Ontario Association of Independent Poultry Processors has been granted status as an intervenor in the appeal the Association of Ontario Chicken Processors has filed against the Chicken Farmers of Ontario.

The appeal is scheduled for public hearings at the tribunal headquarters in Guelph on Jan. 22 and 24.

The chicken board has developed a policy to supply chicken to processors who need supplies to develop niche markets.

The Association of Ontario Chicken Processors has filed an appeal because it apparently believes the chicken will be taken out of its supplies.

An alternative would be to persuade the national agency to grant Ontario the right to increase chicken production, but so far the other provinces, led by Alberta, have been opposed to any increase for Ontario.

Alberta argues that Ontario ought to allow processors to compete for available chicken supplies.

Ontario stopped that years ago, deciding instead to divvy up supplies among processors based on their historic market shares.

The processors have traded their supplies among each other, often “renting” supply in return for money and sometimes buying a rival processor simply to gain its right to chickens.

That’s what happened earlier this year when Sargent Farms bought Chai Kosher Poultry of Toronto, effectively closing the Chai plant and denying people who want kosher chicken any supplies from Ontario farms. Since then some of their demand has been met by kosher chicken from a plant in Montreal, but at higher prices.

The Ontario chicken board asked the national agency for more chicken to meet the demand for kosher chicken, but has been turned down at national agency meetings in November and December.

Processors who want to buy chickens to meet the demand for kosher and Hong Kong dressed chicken were hoping to take advantage of the Ontario chicken board’s new policy to find chicken for processors who want to develop new markets. That’s the policy that the large-volume chicken processors are opposing with their appeal to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food Appeal Tribunal.

The Ontario Independent Poultry Processors Association is a strong supporter of the chicken board’s proposal to find chickens to develop niche markets.

The AOCP has consistently tried to stifle the association for small and independent processors. For example, at a hearing conducted by the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Council the AOCP successfully argued that the independents ought to be kept from sitting on a chicken-industry committee designed to develop policies that improve the Ontario chicken industry.

During that hearing, the AOCP said it was on the verge of finalizing a plan but now, more than a year later, there is still no sign of a plan for the industry.

Meanwhile there are court challenges filed by CAMI International Poultry Inc. of Welland to throw out the deal Ontario and Quebec marketing boards and dominant processors reached to stop trade in live chickens between the provinces and to change a federal import policy so the company can import live chickens from the U.S. when it’s not able to buy them in either Ontario or Quebec.

Only in Canada, and only under national supply management, could such ridiculous marketplace shenanigans take place.