Thursday, August 7, 2014

Red bird chicken farmers set to cash in bigtime

The new policy for specialty-market red-feathered birds is going to make a few chicken farmers millionaires.

According to Sean McGivern of Progressive Farmers of Ontario, there is one farmer who has been illegally raising red-feathered chickens who figures the new board policy will benefit him to the tune of about $3 million worth of chicken quota.

The board has already decided that some existing producers of red-feathered birds will be favoured with quota so they can continue supplying one or two processors who have been serving a specialty market for Asian customers who want red-feathered birds and want the head and feet left on.

The Ontario board finally gained approval last month from the Chicken Farmers Agency of Canada for additional production rights for this venture.

It is starting with a enough allocation to these farmers and processors for two quota periods to take them to the end of this year. The chicks are supplied by Frey’s Hatchery at St. Jacobs.

I asked the board to comment on this story, but, as usual, there has been no response. I don't know what their media relations guy does.

The board and national agency intend to implement a more permanent arrangement after that.

McGivern is upset about what’s happening because, when he led a delegation to the chicken board asking the directors to increase the non-quota production limit from 300 to 2,000 birds a year, the board told him that it regulates all chicken produced in Ontario.

The board said there were no exceptions, but McGivern said it now turns out that the board has known all along that some red-feathered-bird producers were raising far more than 300 birds per year.

“We tried to go through the right channels” and the board turned down both the Progressive Farmers of Ontario and is fighting the same issue with Glenn Black, president of Small Flockers of Canada.

“We were told a chicken is a chicken,” McGivern said, meaning all breeds and processing techniques.

McGivern said “more people need to know about it,” meaning the board’s knowledge that its 300-bird limit was not being consistently enforced and that some producers are now in line for million-dollar windfall benefits.