Monday, September 1, 2014

Chicken board still lacks policy

The Chicken Farmers of Ontario marketing board still has no new or amended policy governing specialty markets long after its lawyer, Geoff Spurr, promised to have one soon.

That’s what Spurr told the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Tribunal during  a hearing into an appeal filed by small-scale independent processors.

The processors, represented by John Slot, were complaining that more than a year after the board adopted a specialty-markets policy, nothing is in place.

The tribunal adjourned the appeal in July pending action by the chicken board to either withdraw or amend the existing policy.

Elizabeth Francisco specialist in legal and regulatory affairs and secretary to the chicken board, has confirmed there is no new or amended policy in place in answer to e-mail from Sean McGivern of Progressive Farmers of Ontario.

Here’s what she e-mailed McGivern:

“ . . . there were some discussions with existing farmers about growing Silkies and Frey's Special Dual Purpose as these are eligible breeds under the CFC (Chicken Farmers of Canada) policy.

“In essence, the policy under development is required to align Ontario with the national program that results in Ontario being eligible to receive specialty breeds specific supply from CFC. 

“There have been no discussions about the policy and any comments made about any aspect of the imminent policy are speculative.

“Based on the forgoing, I revert back to my letter dated August 20, 2014 whereby I respectfully suggest that you defer your request for a hearing at this juncture as it may be too premature to hold a hearing until a policy is enacted.”

McGivern said in a telephone conversation that at least one farmer raising these specialty breeds thinks he may end up with $3 million worth of chicken quota.

Meanwhile, small-volume processors who want chicken supplies so they can develop niche markets remain frozen out.

Justice delayed is justice denied. A policy left on the chicken board shelf is useless.