Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Splitting egg quotas

An egg farmer phoned to say some quota holders are splitting their operations so they can qualify to rent more quota from the Egg Farmers of Ontario marketing board.

This is an old issue, one that traces to history in the Chicken Farmers of Ontario marketing board.

There the directors and a few quota holders in the know learned that the board would be distributing free quota to reflect increasing consumer demand, and that the distribution would be the same volume of quota for every quota holder, both large and small.

So they split their quota into separate holdings before the distribution was to take place. For example, some would be located on another farm for a son or daughter.

The chicken board stopped that practice when it realized this would end up balkanizing production into less efficient and economical small operations.

You'd think the egg board could have taken a lesson from this. And that the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission, which supervises all of Ontario's marketing boards, would have rung a gentle alarm bell.

Apparently not.

In the recent past, the quota increases for Ontario, meaning the amount available for rent, have run about 2,500 units per year. This coming year there are rumours it could be 3,500.

For a family that splits its quota two or three ways, that amounts to a significant windfall.

Meanwhile, with this distribution of growth production rights and the new quota exchange in place, it's darn difficult for an outsider to buy into the chicken production business in Ontario.

It's another example of supply management creating a system in which a tiny group of Canadian millionaires are able to establish a multi-generations dynasty.