Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Ontario egg board wants more eggs

The Egg Farmers of Ontario marketing board is calling for a production increase to bring it up to its allowable limit under the national supply management program.

While it’s not calling it a quota increase, the practical result is the same as a 2.75 per cent quota increase.

Ontario is allowed to place 97 per cent of its allocation, measured in hens, under the national plan, but has not been hitting that 97 per cent target when birds are counted in February.

This increase is in addition to annual allocation increases from that national agency that have been averaging three per cent for the last seven years, said Bill Mitchell spokesman for the Ontario egg marketing board.

The Ontario board has been leasing these allocation increases to farmers rather than granting pro rata quota increases.

However, the new policy will be a pro rata increase, meaning that all producers, no matter how large or small their quota holdings, will get the same percentage.

Under the leasing program, the revenues flow into the egg marketing board coffers, resulting in less need for levies which are assessed on every dozen of Grade A eggs the farmer markets.

Even with the increases, Ontario has still been persistently short of eggs, especially in the weeks before Christmas and Easter, so extra imports are allowed from the United States.

Egg grading stations, such as L.H. Gray & Son Ltd. and Burnbrae Farms Ltd., which together account for about 90 per cent of Ontario eggs, usually apply for “supplementary import permits” so they can bring in U.S. eggs without facing the normal tariff of more than 250 per cent.

But the same importers have also been routinely reporting that they have too many eggs and so the national agency, Egg Farmers of Canada, has been covering the price gap between Canadian eggs and U.S. prices for processing-industry eggs, so the Ontario processors can compete with imports that supply companies such as bakeries, mayonnaise manufacturers and restaurant chains.

And the same processors are also owners in whole or in part of egg-processing companies.