Monday, February 16, 2015

Chicken industry ignored the North

Chicken-industry people in Northern Ontario were miffed when the trio organizing consultations on industry growth policies ignored them.

That changed after a group travelled to Guelph where one of the consultation meetings was held. The Northerners outnumbered the locals eight to three, and so the trio scheduled a meeting in the North.

Max Burt and seven other chicken farmers “made it very plain about their dissatisfaction with the ignoring of half the province.,” writes Glenn Black on his blog, . 

 “Shortly after that, a 17th consultation meeting was scheduled for Northern Ontario,” he writes.

The trio is the Chicken Farmers of Ontario Marketing Board, the Association of Ontario Chicken Processors and the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission. Notably absent is the Ontario Independent Chicken Processors Association which has lobbied long and hard for access to more chicken so its membership can exploit opportunities in niche markets.

“The live meeting was held in Gore Bay with five participants with Brian Boyle, a former facilitator with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Murray Opsteen , a director of the chicken board and Brad Stephenson offering technical support,” writes Black.

In addition, there were internet-based satellite conferences tied in for six people at Bruce Mines, 10 at Dryden, six at Geraldton, six at Rainey River, 10 at Temiskaming, nine at Verner-Sudbury and some more at Thunder Bay “for a grand total of more than 55 participants,” Black writes.

“Some of the points made by Northern Ontario participants:

   Supply Management is ineffective.
   Major changes in the quota system and small flocker exemptions are needed; or removal of the quota system altogether.
   We need safe, locally produced, affordable chicken that responds to the local needs and customers
   Chicken factories are the source of the majority of disease outbreaks and resistant bacteria due to dysfunctional farming practices
   First Nations need an opportunity to participate
   Affordable chicken is a major issue, and getting worse every day
Abattoirs that are reasonably proximate to chicken farmers are needed.  Portable abattoirs are one possible solution.”

The group presented an outline of what they want:

   1. Evolve the allocation systems of both farmers and processors to improve the flexibility and responsiveness in capitalizing on growth opportunities in the chicken marketplace.
   Create value by serving the needs of growing and emerging markets.
   Encourage innovation, new business-building ideas.
   Serve the needs of existing markets, taking into consideration their size, importance, and historical investment.
   Develop a system that is predictable and stable that aligns the interests of key stakeholders in the chicken industry
Encourage quality, efficiency, and value creation.”

Burt and Black have both been spurned in the past when they asked for special treatment for small-flock owners and for Northern Ontario.