Thursday, January 30, 2014

Black threatens to sue chicken industry and governments

Glenn Black of Providence Bay, Ont., has threatened a lawsuit against the Ontario chicken marketing board, the national chicken marketing agency and federal and provincial governments.

He claims the way they have run marketing boards has gouged the public and hurt small-flock owners. Black runs a blog for Canadian Small Flockers which speaks for thousands of people who keep chickens for meat and egg production.

Black and the members of the organization have been seeking an increase from 300 to 2,500 birds that Ontario people can raise every year without having to buy quota which is the instrument the marketing boards use to restrict production so they can charge prices that are roughly three times as high as in the United States.

Quota for the minimum-scale farm the Ontario marketing board will allow costs about $1 million.

Black has outlined the case he will try to establish in court if the marketing boards and governments refuse to act on a long list of issues he has been raising.

In his claim for damages, he notes that the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission ruled last summer that the Ontario chicken marketing board has inflated prices by claiming it takes more feed than is actually required to raise chickens.

The commission ordered the marketing board to reduce its feed conversion ratio (the amount of feed required to grow a kilogram of chicken) by 16.3 per cent.

Black says he became aware of that inflation of costs and prices in March; the price rollback came in August.

He says the inflated prices lasted 10 years and calculates that increased costs for Canadians by $318.55 per person.

He also notes that even the current feed conversion ratio the Ontario chicken board is using (1.82 kilograms of feed per kilogram of bird weight) is 18 per cent more than the New Zealand chicken industry where the feed conversion ratio averages 1.38.

Black alleges that the federal and provincial government have failed in their duty to adequately supervise the Ontario chicken board and the national marketing agency and that the national agency and Ontario board have abused their powers and have violated the public’s constitutional rights.

Black is awaiting responses from the accused before deciding whether to pursue the lawsuit.