Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Black counters supply management boasting

This is a letter to the editor of the Daily News from Glenn Black of Providence Bay, Manitoulin Island. He is one of the few campaigners to have persuaded a marketing board to reform.

Dear Editor:

(Sheri) Cooper's article on May 18, 2017, Chicken farming a major industry, can help educate consumers, as well as mislead them by errors of omission.

There are about 1,400 commercial chicken farmers under Ontario's Supply Management (SM) system, and about 2,700 Canada-wide; who are only four per cent of all Canadian chicken farmers.
Cooper failed to mention there are about 16,000 small flock chicken farmers in Ontario, and 65,000 across Canada who are non-SM.

SM imposes a "chicken apartheid" system where the minority rules the roost by stripping away to rights and freedoms of the 96 per cent majority of Canadian chicken farmers.

Cooper didn’t mention that SM farms (dairy, chicken, turkey, eggs) are just eight per cent of all Canadian farms, but SM farmers are the best paid of all Canadian farmers, earning 21 per cent more than non-SM farmers.

SM was invented to protect the small independent family run chicken farms. However, under SM’s jaded eye from 1966-2016 (the full reign of SM for chicken), 88 per cent of Canada's chicken farms have disappeared.

SM sets wholesale prices, which indirectly cause Canadians to pay between 50-300 per cent more for chicken in Canada as compared to most other countries around the world.

SM tries to claim those higher prices ensure Canadians get high quality chicken. In reality, many tests over many years by Public Health Canada, CFIA, University of Guelph and others have proved that 30-80 per cent of chicken sold in Canadian grocery stores are seriously contaminated with bacteria such as E. coli, salmonella, Heidelberg, campylobacteria, listeria, etc. superbugs (resistant to one or more antibiotics) make up about 50 per cent of those bacteria. This contamination can kill you, or make you seriously ill.

Frankenstein chemicals and antibiotics fed to the chickens behind closed barn doors, or the injection of drugs into hatching eggs even before the chicken has hatched has caused or contributed to this bacterial epidemic.

Before SM, Canada had one of the best quality, most efficient chicken production systems in the world. Over the last 50 years of SM, we have become mediocre. For example, free trade New Zealand chicken farmers have a chicken feed conversion ratio (FCR) that is 25 per cent better than Canada’s average FCR.

Since FCR accounts for about 60 per cent of the total cost of producing chicken, fat dumb and happy under the monopolistic, no competition SM system has caused the Canadian chicken industry to require intensive care protection on a chronic basis; unable to survive in the real world. Contrast that with Canadian beef, pork, grains, vegetable, and all other non-SM farmers who can compete with the best in the world, and do so every day.

Cooper correctly claims Canada exports chicken. What he didn't tell consumers is that SM is seen as an unfair subsidy by most of our trading partners, and world trade rules therefore limit the amount of government subsidized chicken that Canada can export. Canada has only four per cent of the OECD market share for exported chicken.

If SM was removed, and we regained our pre-SM productivity, Canada’s chicken industry could grow by 500 per cent through exports.

Glenn Black, president

Small Flock Poultry Farmers of Canada