Saturday, September 13, 2014

Chicken board's policy flawed

The Chicken Farmers of Ontario marketing board has exposed its own incompetence in rolling out its new specialty-breeds policy.

First, it apparently suddenly found a producer who was raising 60,000 to 70,000 Silkies without quota.

Second, Frey's Hatchery of St. Jacobs is revealed as the supplier of the two breeds allowed under the policy. If the board knows Frey's is the supplier, how come it doesn't know about Frey's customers growing the birds without quota?

Third, this new policy is unbelievably bureaucratic. Growers need not only Ontario board approval, but also separate approval from the national agency, Chicken Farmers of Canada.

Fourth, the policy is aimed at "developing" a new market for the Asian population, mainly in and around Toronto, that wants birds with heads and feet left on. CAMI International Poultry Inc. was doing a remarkable job of developing and serving that market, no thanks to marketing boards, when it was shut down by a ban on inter-provincial trade in live chicken.

How Ontario and Quebec could raise that new trade barrier without violating the Agreement on Internal Trade signed by all provincial premiers remains an open question. When ownership of CAMI changed, a court challenge on that precise issue died. Convenient for the marketing boards, but certainly not for Asians who were CAMI customers.

Fifth, there is still no word from the Ontario chicken board about how and when it's going to meet the demand for kosher chicken. It received five applications when it issued a call for proposals, but has yet to announce whether any or all of those applications is acceptable.

There are those who still believe that supply management is a good idea, but the way it's being bungled by Ontario's chicken board is a disgrace.