Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Laplante battle with chicken board continues

The long-running battle between Robert Laplante and his Laplante Poultry Farm business continues at the appeals tribunal.

The Chicken Farmers of Ontario and the Association of Ontario Chicken Processors are fighting Laplante on several fronts, judging by a tribunal decision recently revealed in a posting on the internet.
Laplante wants to process chicken produced by Francophone quota holders in Eastern Ontario. They are currently marketed to Quebec processors.

The Association of Ontario Chicken Processors (AOCP) made a deal with Laplante on May 11, 2012, granting him 156,449 kilograms of chicken for processing. The chicken board endorsed that deal and makes sure Laplante gets the birds specified.

After that deal was made, the AOCP and the chicken board made a deal with their Quebec counterparts to stop trade in live chickens between Ontario and Quebec.

That prompted Laplante to file an appeal with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Appeal Tribunal, seeking more chicken for his processing plant.

The hearing began last September, but was adjourned when both the chicken board and the AOCP refused to produce documents Laplante requested.

And then the chicken board and the AOCP said this case ought not to be settled by the tribunal because the deal the AOCP and Laplante made in 2012 calls for disputes to be settled by arbitration.

The AOCP told the tribunal, during a pre-hearing conference earlier this month, that it intends to file for arbitration.

The tribunal decision is that the appeal should go ahead, provided that arbitration has not begun by March 12.

According to the tribunal website, two hearing dates have now been set to continue dealing with the issues.

On April 8 to 11, the hearing will deal with Laplante’s request for documents from the chicken board and the AOCP.

The tribunal has scheduled the main appeal to be heard April 28 to May 1 in Cobourg.
In that main case, Laplante is seeking either a base plant supply quota of 1,082,650 or special status as a French-language processing plant to handle chicken from special status French-language chicken producers.

The French-language producers have won a long court battle to be able to market their birds to Quebec processors. That court decision forced Ontario to yield some market share to Quebec, undermining the deal to ban inter-provincial trade in live birds.