Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Chicken appeal cancelled

The appeal the Ontario Association of Chicken Processors has filed against the Chicken Farmers of Ontario marketing board has been cancelled.

Neither the chicken processors or marketing board responded to e-mails inviting their comments on why the hearing has been cancelled.

John Slot of the Ontario Independent Poultry Processors Association, which was granted status for the public hearings, said it’s his understanding that the AOCP dropped its appeal.

That, he said, would leave the chicken board free to implement its policy of providing chicken to processors who develop new markets.

The chicken board had set up a process to apply for chicken and a number of processors had filed applications and expected they would be able to provide chicken to their customers.

They were left high and dry when the AOCP filed its appeal and the policy was put on the shelf, pending the outcome of the hearings before the Ontario Ministry Agriculture and Food Appeal Tribunal.

Slot said it’s not entirely clear what’s going to happen now and said his association has a meeting scheduled with the chicken board next week.

If the policy is not implemented now, he says his association might file its own appeal to get chicken for its members who are among the most aggressive in identifying and serving new markets.

Two of the most contentious markets, both of them large, are for kosher-standard slaughter and Hong Kong dressed (head and feet on) for the Asian market in the Toronto area.

Kosher birds were supplied by Chai Kosher Poultry of Toronto until it sold its chicken-supply quota to Sargent Farms, then applied for special market-development supplies from the chicken board, and CAMI International Poultry Inc. of Welland is seeking supplies to replace about two-thirds of its needs that it was buying from Quebec farmers until the Ontario and Quebec marketing boards banned inter-provincial trade in live birds.

The Ontario chicken board has asked the national agency for permission to grow more chickens in Ontario to meet the demand from these two substantial markets, but the other provinces have vetoed that request.

Alberta has said Ontario’s marketing board should simply regulate how many birds farmers grow and leave it to processors to compete for birds, not assign each processor a set percentage of available supplies.

However, the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission has made it clear that it will not tolerate a system in which processors bid premiums – i.e. prices higher than the marketing-board cost-of-production formula price.

The tribunal hearings were scheduled to begin Wednesday and continue Friday.