Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Cracks and dirts

A friend has provided me with a copy of the information whistleblower Norman Bourdeau has provided to a number of regulatory agencies, including the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission.

Among items not so far reported by anyone are:

- The Canadian Food Inspection Agency granted Gray the right to reduce wash-water temperatures from 40 to 32 degrees Celsius. An e-mail between Peter Westelaken and Scott Brookshaw indicates aerobic bacteria colony counts on three samples were 1.8 million, three million and 2.7 million: the target is less than 100,000.

- Bourdeau's allegation, backed by e-mail correspondence, that L.H. Gray and Son Ltd. "sold" worthless cracks and dirts culled from regular pickups at farms as "nest-run" program eggs to the Ontario Egg Board at $1.50per dozen. An e-mail from Scott Brookshaw, vice-president of operations, says "make sure production staff knows to keep up taking the dirty out of the pack as they are being sent Nest Run."

- Ian McKillop, past president of the Ontario Cattlemen's Association, and his brother, Alan, benefitted from Gray's practice of putting cracks and dirts into Grade A retail cartons. For example, a pickup of 7,200 dozen on Aug, 24, 2009, contained 105 dozen cracks and 22 dozen dirts, but Gray's report to the Egg Farmers of Ontario Marketing Board was that there were only 68 dozen cracks and no dirts. This discrepancy was worth $164.97on that pickup.

- The McKillop discrepancy is peanuts compared with one or two thousand dollars per pickup for some other farmers.

- The documents indicate that the better the eggs the farmers shipped, the lower the "discrepancies". For example, on a Nov. 11, 2009, shipment from Griffith Farms, the discrepancy on a pickup of 8,100 dozen was $1,114.84. On Dec. 15, 2009, Playford shipped 4,260 dozen and the discrepancy was only $30.97.

- Gray cheated the egg board on bird counts. On June 14, 2009, Ross Snyder e-mailed Scott Brookshaw that inspector Chris Vanderkooy was coming  to count birds in early September, and he asked whether he should "open the wall and let them go" so the excess birds in barn 31 could mingle "with older birds. Then we would go undetected."

I have also learned that the British Columbia Farm Industry Review Board has been informed about similar Gray grading practices at Golden Valley egg grading, which accounts for about 80 per cent of the B.C. market. Since egg farmers, including some directors on the B.C. egg marketing board, are in a co-operative that shares ownership of Golden Valley, I wonder how vigorous the B.C. authorities will be about cracking down.

If they take their cues from Geri Kamenz, chairman of the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission, they will stick their heads firmly in the sand.

Kamenz is refusing to conduct an inquiry on the grounds that Bourdeau's allegations are before the courts. Only a small fraction of the alleged wrongdoing is before the courts.  For example, the allegation that Gray sells culls to the board as "nest run" program eggs is certainly not before the courts and surely worthy of an investigation on behalf of egg farmers and the public.

For the record, Gray denies any wrongdoing. The allegations and Gray claims of innocence have yet to be tested in court.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Burnbrae and CFIA censor reports

On Feb. 21 I asked the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for the 2009-2010 inspection or audit reports for egg-grading and egg-procesing operations of Burnbrae Farms Mississauga.

Today, the first day of resumed Canada Post service, I received a stack of useless documents so heavily censored that virtually nothing remains. Only on a few of the reports have they allowed me to see that "product must meet grade claimed."

Incidentally, one of those reports is for eggs from L.H. Gray and Son Ltd.

Most of the censorship has been applied under Section 20 (1) (b) which says : "financial, commercial, scientific or technical information that is confidential information supplied to a government institution by a third party and is treated consistently in a confidential manner by the third party."

Some has been applied under Section 19 (1) which covers personal information.

So, dear Canadians, we are not allowed to see any shortcomings in Burnbrae's egg-grading and egg-processing operations at Mississauga.

And egg farmers can't know why some of the eggs at Burnbrae, the biggest egg-grading company in Canada, fail to meet the grade claimed.

This is why whistleblowers are so useful, and why Bill Gray is going to extraordinary lengths to keep whistleblower Norman Bourdeau from sharing information he took from L.H. Gray and Sons Ltd.

Wasted food could end hunger

Washington, D.C.- Roughly a third of food is wasted, according to new statistics from the United Nations’  Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). That’s about 1.3 billion tons per year.

In the developing world, over 40 percent of food losses occur after harvest-while being stored or transported, and during processing and packing.
In industrialized countries, more than 40 percent of losses occur as a result of retailers and consumers discarding unwanted but often perfectly edible food.

“At a time when the land, water, and energy resources necessary to feed a global population of 6.9 billion are increasingly limited-and when at least one billion people remain chronically hungry-food losses mean a waste of those resources and a failure of our food system to meet the needs of the poor,” says the Worldwatch Institute.

According to Tristram Stuart, a contributing author of Worldwatch's State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet report, some 150 million tons of grains are lost annually in low-income countries, six times the amount needed to meet the needs of all the hungry people in the developing world.
Meanwhile, industrialized countries waste some 222 million tons of perfectly good food annually, a quantity nearly equivalent to the 230 million tons that sub-Saharan Africa produces in a year.

Unlike farmers in many developing countries, however, agribusinesses in industrial countries have numerous tools at their disposal to prevent food from spoiling-including pasteurization and preservation facilities, drying equipment, climate-controlled storage units, transport infrastructure, and chemicals designed to expand shelf-life.

"All this may ironically have contributed to the cornucopian abundance that has fostered a culture in which staggering levels of 'deliberate' food waste are now accepted or even institutionalized," writes Stuart in his chapter, "Post-Harvest Losses: A Neglected Field."

"Throwing away cosmetically 'imperfect' produce on farms, discarding edible fish at sea, over-ordering stock for supermarkets, and purchasing or cooking too much food in the home, are all examples of profligate negligence toward food," he wrote.

 "Humanity is approaching -- and in some places exceeding -- the limits of potential farmland and water supplies that can be used for farming," says Worldwatch Institute Executive Director Robert Engelman.

"We're already facing food price spikes and the early impacts of human-caused climate change on food production. We can't afford to overlook simple, low-cost fixes to reduce food waste," he says.

The Worldwatch Institute has several suggestions: 

·Getting surpluses to those who need it. As mountains of food are thrown out every day in the cities of rich countries, some of the poorest citizens still struggle to figure out their next meal. The institute mentions several large food banks as one answer.
·Raising consumer awareness and reducing waste to landfills. Those who can easily afford to buy food - and throw it away - rarely consider how much they discard or find alternatives to sending unwanted food to the landfill. In 2010, however, San Francisco became the first city to pass legislation requiring all households to separate both recycling and compost from garbage. Nutrient-rich compost created by the municipal program is made available to farmers. The Love Food Hate Waste website in the United Kingdom has online recipes for using leftovers as well as tips and advice for reducing personal food waste.  

·Improving storage and processing for small-scale farmers in developing countries. In the absence of expensive, Western-style grain stores and processing facilities, smallholders can undertake a variety of measures to prevent damage to their harvests. In Pakistan, the United Nations helped farmers cut their storage losses by up to 70 percent by simply replacing jute bags and mud-wall storages with metal grain storage bins. Purdue University is helping communities in rural Niger store cow peas in hermetically-sealed plastic bags. Another innovative project uses solar energy to dry mangoes after harvest; each year, more than 100,000 tons of the fruit go bad before reaching the market in western Africa.   

Friday, June 24, 2011

Gray golf tournament

L.H. Gray and Son Ltd. and Gray Ridge Egg Farms have raised $10,000 for two ventures that support the Ontario Farm Animal Council (OFAC) and Agricultural Groups Concerned About Resources and the Environment  (AGCare).
The money was raised through Gray’s fifth annual customer appreciation golf tournament June 21 at St. Marys. The total is about double what organizers anticipated.

More than 160 people, most of them egg farmers or from businesses related to eggs, participated and donated.

The money will go into the newly-formed Farm Care Foundation and the Young Ambassador program begun in 2008 in honour of the late Jim Johnstone, egg farmer and founding chairman of OFAC.

Bill Gray, owner of Gray Ridge, said “we saw our golf tournament as being a
great opportunity to raise awareness and support for this valuable

“We're proud to be part of a program that helps to ensure
agriculture's voice is heard by Canadian consumers."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Another Grayridge blog

Melissa Snyder has posted another e-mail between Scott Brookshaw, vice-president of operations, and his boss and company owner Bill Gray of Grayridge Eggs Ltd.

Scott writes to Bill:  “When I met Harry (Pelissero, general manager of the Egg Farmers of Ontario marketing board) today he will give $1000 per week and tell me how to invoice the Egg Board.  Based on a 65000 pound load that gives 1.54 cents per pound.  The extra transportation cost is 1.5 cents per pound so the money we will get for breaking the 65000 pounds of egg white for drying will be a bonus.  We can start with a load next week.  Harry will only pay for one load as he is going to try and hide this.  Wants us to keep quiet.  Scott.”

Sure looks like collusion to do something improper, doesn't it?

Monday, June 20, 2011

False security

Canada's dairy and poultry marketing boards issued a news release hailing an agreement among farm leaders of 66 countries, basically opposing freer trade.

Canada's marketing board spokesmen said they oppose tariff reductions, which is no surprise, but they cloak that opposition in the claim that it's necessary for food security.


The greatest food security is enough money to buy food.

The second-greatest food security is to have free trade so, with enough money to buy food, it can be bought and brought from any corner of the world.

That, one might imagine, would be a policy that farmers would support. They would always be able to sell whatever they produce, if everybody had enough money to buy the food they want and need, and without trade barriers, good-quality food would always command a fair price.

Some will no doubt worry that the world's farmers might produce too much food, driving prices down below their cost of production.  I say let's worry about that when and if it happens; right now we have more than 800 million people without enough nutrition.

I much prefer a world where political leaders focus their attention on ensuring all people have enough money to buy the food they need to today's world where our political leaders are pressured by farmers into stale-mating the Doha Round of world trade negotiations which are, I remind you, intended to focus on agriculture and to redress the failures of the Uruguay Round to address the needs of the poorest people in the poorest nations.

Chicken barons ignore Northern Ontario

The Chicken Farmers of Ontario marketing board has no compassion or policy to allow a chicken industry to develop on Manitoulin Island or anywhere else across Northern Ontario.

This is an issue that is likely to end up before the Ontario Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeals Tribunal.

Max Burt, the son of a proven chicken farmer on Manitoulin Island, has been struggling to achieve legitimacy for his fully-integrated chicken business - raising, slaughtering and selling them fresh to local customers.

The chicken board refuses to accept the family claims about how many chickens it was producing when the marketing board gained power to control chicken production for the entire province and refuses to believe that the family did not know it needed to apply for quota.

Yet this same chicken board seemed to be ignorant of ongoing chicken production on Manitoulin Island. My guess is the board learned because processors in Southern Ontario, eager to retain their monopoly on sales to stores in Northern Ontario, drew the board's attention to Burt Farms.

In any case, the chicken board did learn about chicken production and processing at Burt Farm and moved to squelch the business.

Max Burt has invested an enormous amount of time and effort in developing a meat-processing plant that is government-approved and inspected to slaughter a variety of species, ranging from cattle to chickens. He has developed a loyal clientele eager to buy locally-produced products, including chicken, some of them raised to niche-market standards such as free range.

Burt has no intention of ever producing and processing enough chicken to begin marketing in Southern Ontario, but he would like to serve the local markets which he is convinced would expand if the people could buy locally-produced and fresh chicken instead of what's trucked hundreds of kilometres from the Toronto area.

But the chicken board stands in the way. It won't allow him to produce chicken unless and until he buys quota from one of its millionaire members in Southern Ontario. And if he does grow chicken without quota, the marketing board will throw him under the bus.

Burt has stated his case in hearings before the directors and staff of the chicken board. They refuse to bend. He has appealed their decisions. They refuse to bend. So now Burt is pondering an appeal to the tribunal.

It ought not to take Max Burt of Burt Farms that much time and effort.  The McGuinty government, which bestowed one of its Premier's Agri-Food Innovation Awards on Burt Farms in 2008, ought to intervene to set things right by ordering the chicken board to issue special quota for Northern Ontario.

It could, while it's at it, make this free quota and ban its sale out of Northern Ontario.

This is far from the first time this issue of chicken board injustice against Northern Ontario has been raised. In 1984, Elie Martel, NDP member for part of Northern Ontario, raised the issue in the Ontario legislature, noting that there is no chicken quota in all of Northern Ontario.

At that time, he said a young farmer who wanted to grow chicken would have to buy quota in Southern Ontario, produce at the same farm where that chicken quota was located for two years and only then would he qualify to apply to the marketing board for permission to move the quota to his farm in Northern Ontario.  For obvious reasons, nobody did that.

And so, Martel complained, "he cannot even produce legally for local consumers."

Yet between then and now, the chicken board "discovered" large-scale chicken-producing farms in Eastern Ontario, all of them without quota, merrily producing thousands of kilograms of chicken for processors in Quebec.

After much controversy, those farmers were granted special "interprovincial" quota, and later that was converted into regular Ontario chicken quota. Those farmers, who had no track record of chicken production before the marketing board gained supply management powers, have joined the millionaires' club. Meanwhile, the Burt family, which has a track record of chicken production, is frozen out.

The chicken board could create special quota for Northern Ontario and issue enough to Burt Farm to cover production for local customers.  And if it won't, the McGuinty government could and should intervene to make it happen.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Victims are no-shows at Pigeon King hearing

The prosecutor invited 917 people thought to be victims of Arlan Galbraith and his Pigeon King International business, but only 10 showed up and two phoned in.

One of those two, former salesman Bill Top, hung up because another salesman, Mark DeWitt, was at the meeting in Kitchener.

The sparse turnout considerably weakens the fraud case the prosecutors are making against Galbraith – that he was operating a Ponzi scheme to persuade people to invest in breeding-stock pigeons.

Police say about 1,000 people invested to fill contracts worth about $20 million. Many were from near Kitchener, but others were from across the United States and Western Canada, including a Hutterite colony in Alberta with a $1-million contract.

Some are not surprised at the low turnout.

One reason is that many who signed contracts are Mennonites who will not take another person to court. 

Another is that the majority of the losses are hypothetical – broken promises of future income from the sale of breeding-stock offspring to Pigeon King. The contracts stretched out years: the “victims” have not incurred feed and other expenses in production for future years.

A third reason is that some investors realized the business might not last, so when they built housing, they designed it to be useful for a number of purposes.

Whatever the reasons for failing to attend, assistant crown prosecutor Lynn Robinson conceded that her case is weakened by the lack of witnesses.

Three of the 12 involved in the meeting were former Pigeon King employees.

Top is relatively important because he left the company and began warning investors that the business would collapse.

I predict this whole case against Galbraith will collapse. Certainly many of the investors ought to have known that the demand for breeding stock would be limited, so in that sense, they are just as guilty as Galbraith of trying to get rich at the expense of clients.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

News briefs

In view of the postal strike, I have posted all my recent freelance items below:

Eadie named to Normal Farm Practices board.

Doug Eadie of Kincardine has been chosen by the provincial government for a three-year term on the Normal Farm Practices Review Board.
The position carries payment of $398 per day when they are at board meetings or serving on a review panel.
The board, according to a government website, has “the power to inquire into and resolve a dispute respecting an agricultural operation, including the determination of what constitutes a normal farm practice and to make the necessary inquiries and orders to ensure compliance with its decisions.”

British cheese recalled

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says Tree of Life of Surrey, British Columbia, has expanded its recall of King James brand Blue Stilton Cheese to all lots imported from the manufacturer in England.
The cheese might have listeria monocytogenes bacteria which would be a severe threat to unborn babies. There could be premature delivery, infection of the baby and even stillbirth, the agency warns.
So far no illnesses have been reported in Canada, although the cheese that is under recalls was distributed nationally.
The agency says elderly people and those with compromised immune systems are also at greater risk than the general population. Symptoms are high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness and nausea. There is nothing in the appearance or odour of contaminated cheese to alert consumers.

Westco wins vs. Maple Lodge

Westco and Olymel have won a court victory over Nadeau Poultry Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Maple Lodge Farms Ltd. of Norval, Ont., in the long-standing battle over chicken processing in New Brunswick.
The judges of the Federal Court of Appeal unanimously upheld a ruling by the Competition Bureau that denied Nadeau’s claim on chicken production in the province.
Westco is controlled by a Quebec-based investor who has won support from a clear majority of chicken producers. Even though their barns are close to the Nadeau plant, they have been shipping their birds to an Olymel plant in Quebec.
Olymel is a partner with Westco in a venture they now call Sunnymel.
They intend to build a processing plant in New Brunswick. Maple Lodge says there’s not enough room for both companies and calls the Sunnymel venture a failure of supply management.
Meanwhile, Maple Lodge has teamed with a farmers’ cooperative in New Brunswick to convert the former Larsen’s meat-packing facility for chicken slaughter. Maple Lodge has been trucking birds from Nova Scotia to its Nadeau plant in New Brunswick following a fire that destroyed Nova Scotia’s largest processing plant.
Nadeau has indicated it will probably seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Royal chicken sandwich event

Ottawa - Chicken Farmers of Canada (CFC) is launching a Royal Gala sandwich for its 19th annual Parliament Hill Great Canadian Chicken BBQ.
It is named in honour of the visit of William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
 The event will be in Major’s Park and sandwiches will be on sale from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. July 1
Fifty cents will be donated to the Ottawa Food Bank from each sale of a sandwich and salad for $4 or double pack, which consists of two chicken items, two drinks and two bags of chips, for $15.
The national agency for chicken farmers will also sponsor cooking demonstrations by the Executive Chef of the Centurion Conference and Event Center, which is a partner in hosting the barbecue.
Sprouts confirmed in German deaths

German officials have confirmed that sprouts from an organic farm were the source of E. coli 0104  that has killed 131 and sickened nearly 3,100 people.
That leaves Spanish farmers fuming because they lost markets for cucumbers, tomatoes and other fresh salad ingredients when German authorities urged the public to stop consuming them because they first, and wrongly, believed they were the source of the bacteria that produce the poisons that felled people.
There have been offers of compensation of about $100 million, but the Spanish farmers say they lost at least $350 million.
Sprouts were identified as a likely source, then cleared after 40 samples taken at the farm failed to turn up any E. coli 0104, then re-identified by tracing the bacteria in hospital patients to salads they ate, then to bean sprouts and then to the specific organic farm in Northern Germany.

Frozen food pioneer dies

Henry Class, a pioneer in Ontario’s frozen food industry, has died in Kitchener. He was 95.
He was Canadian president of Mrs. Smith’s Frozen Pies and president of the Ontario Frozen Food Industry Council in 1968 when plans were made to form the Canadian Frozen Food Association.
He served as chairman of the Cancer Society in the Iroquois District and was an avid swimmer, including 1934 champion at the Commonwealth Games and a Master Senior Swimmer and winner of many medals, including World Champion Master Swimmer.

FCC urges financing review

Farm Credit Canada is urging farmers to review their financing in light of a likely rise in interest rates next year.
Senior economist Jean-Philippe Gervais says many expect interest rates will increase by 1.75 per cent next year, ending 2012 at about 4.75 per cent.
One of the options the FCC mentions is splitting loans among two or more mortgages.
While that’s more complex to manage, it has the advantage of locking in interest rates for various lengths of time.


Egg price increase

Egg prices are going up by five cents a dozen on Monday.

The Egg Farmers of Ontario marketing board is taking the increase to cover high feed costs.

There will be no change in levies accompanying this price change.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Fire destroys Alberta egg business

Fire has destroyed Sparks Farms, one of Alberta's most significant egg businesses.

Before the fire
I hope it is pure coincidence that the day before, Melissa Snyder, who writes a blog under Hoosier in Canada, posted these e-mails from electronic files the whistleblower took from L.H. Gray & Son Ltd.
They are between owner Bill Gray and Scott Brookshaw, his vice-president of operations:

“Scott:  I was talking to Meb (Gilani, owner of Sparks Farms) & he re-grades the loose (eggs) from the U.S. into Canadian cartons.  If we require more than 2 loads per week, we could do the same.  I don’t like the inv. Levels at both plants.  Bill”
“Meb can’t legally do that unless you have a USDA symbol on the carton.  If we have a carton with a USDA symbol then we can do that.  Scott”
After the fire
“He said CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) will allow it this year only.  I assume he is re-grading in the off hours.  Bill”

The fire destroyed the family's egg-grading business which handles half of Alberta's eggs supplied by about 80 producers. The company plans to rebuild the egg-grading business as fast as possible.

It has about 50 employees.

Also destroyed in the fire were about 23,000 layers.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Gray's lawyers attack whistleblower Bourdeau

Two lawyers for L.H. Gray and Son Ltd. spent almost a full day in court here June 10 painting whistleblower Norman Bourdeau as a thief and liar who defied a court order to turn over electronic files he took from Gray.

Bourdeau’s lawyer countered that the court order was not detailed and specific enough to qualify as the basis for contempt of court.

Justice Peter Lauwers will be making a decision, likely before the end of the month, on whether Bourdeau is, indeed, in contempt of court and, if so, what penalty he will apply.

Lawyer Allison Webster, who charges Gray $350 an hour, called for two weeks to two months in prison and a fine of $30,000 to $40,000.

The judge made it clear that prison is highly unlikely and that he thinks she's way too high on amount of any fine, presuming he does find Bourdeau guilty of contempt of court.

Bourdeau’s lawyer, Rod Refcio, said neither a prison sentence nor a fine are warranted in this case because Bourdeau has since totally complied with the court order to turn over everything he has from Gray’s files. That happened on June 3.

Refcio argued that the court order did not specify that Bourdeau could not make copies of the materials he turned over to the court long ago, nor that he could not distribute the information. Dave Williams, another of Gray's lawyers who bills at the rate of $515 an hour, quietly laughed and laughed as Refcio presented his defence. 

Refcio argued, and Webster agreed, that the court order was not designed to prohibit Bourdeau from using the information in the electronic files, but to ensure the files would be under court protection. 

Bourdeau says Bill Gray, owner of the company, ordered him to destroy the files and that’s what prompted him to make and take copies and then try to get them into the hands of somebody who would pursue justice.

Webster argued that Bourdeau clearly knew, or should have known, that what he did by keeping copies and distributing the information in them was defiance of the court order.

Williams said little during the hearing, but set the stage for Webster to take over.

He did reveal that Gray didn't know what Bourdeau was doing until long after he had sent a petition to the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission and that he learned about it from Ontario egg board lawyer Geoff Spurr in January. 

Williams said Bourdeau “has been to pretty well every regulatory body in Canada that has anything to do with eggs.” 

The judge said Bourdeau is entitled to talk to those regulatory bodies. Williams conceded that but said Bourdeau breached the court order by providing them with information from the electronic files.

Gray’s lawyers zeroed in on “a disc with 250 e-mails” and “and egg-grading file,” but conceded that they don’t know whether that is the full extent of information they believe Bourdeau kept.

The information Williams and Webster cited is in court files in London which have been seen, and reported on, by journalists before Webster obtained a court order to seal the files. The e-mails indicate that Gray had his staff adjust egg-grading machinery to incorporate and pass off cracks as Grade A eggs, that he had frequent contact with competitor Burnbrae Farms and with Harry Pelissero, general manager of Egg Farmers of Ontario. Some of that e-mail traffic involved moves to thwart Svante Lind and his Best Choice Eggs.

Williams said Bourdeau’s allegations are that Gray defrauded customers on about 250 million eggs – i.e. cracks or undergrades marketed as Grade As - and said that is having serious economic consequences for Gray.

He referred to an affidavit by Scott Brookshaw, vice-president of operations for Gray, that farmers are threatening to quit supplying eggs to Gray if Bourdeau’s allegations prove true.

I have been told that Brookshaw said 35 producers representing half of Gray’s egg-grading volume have threatened to move their business and when I asked lawyer Donald Good, who represents Lind, if he can confirm that information, he said "to the best of my memory, it's in that ballpark."

Refcio said Bourdeau has felt intimidated by Gray and only wanted to ensure that the information gets into the hands of somebody who will pursue justice.

Refcio said that explains why Bourdeau prepared his petition and began to send it out after Gray’s lawyers hit Bourdeau with a $15-mlllion lawsuit last October.

That lawsuit, alleging Bourdeau defamed Gray and his business, is yet to be settled in court in London. Webster said it was filed after Gray learned that Bourdeau had spoken to an information technology company and to the auditor for the Egg Farmers of Ontario marketing board.

Refcio noted that Gray's lawyers filed motions against Bourdeau in courts in both London and Oshawa and called that "duplication", prompting the judge to challenge Webster and Williams to explain why.

Webster said the contempt motion was filed in Oshawa because that’s where the order to turn over the files was issued and the other motions were filed in London because that was the quickest way to muzzle Bourdeau.

The London cases have been settled “by consent” with a $500 fine to be paid to the court and $1,500 in legal costs to Gray’s lawyers.

The contempt motions are a side show to the main event which is lawsuits Svante Lind of Best Choice Eggs has filed against Gray, Burnbrae Farms Ltd. and the Ontario egg board.

One of the key issues there is whether information from the electronic files Bourdeau took from Gray can be used as evidence in Lind’s case and, if so, how much.

The lawyers are due back in court in Oshawa July 19. The first order of business then will be Good’s motion to combine Lind’s cases against Gray, Burnbrae and the egg board.

One of the lawyers said "this could drag out for five years."

I guess that's why they say justice delayed is justice denied. That, and I might add, the high costs involved, making it an uneven playing ground between them that has and them that don't.                                   

Nutri Oeuf replies

I do not know who gave you this information but Ontario Pride Eggs continues and will continue to collect all the eggs from small producers in Ontario. Our criteria for speciality eggs are different than the one of Best Choice.

At OPE, all eggs must respond to the allegations listed on our packaging (different than the one of Best Choice) and it is financially impossible to verify the methods of production and feeding of chickens for the 57 producers suppliers of Pullets Plus.
Analyse the level of Omega in one dozen eggs cost 250$ and we do that two times per year and some small producers produce only few cases per week.
We asked them to produce regular eggs and we are committed to pay them the producers prices set by the Ontario Board.
Have a good week-end  
Richard Decelles
Directeur Général / General Manager
Nutri-Oeuf inc.

Clarence Martin of Pullets Plus responds that he segregates eggs as to free range, caged birds, omega 3, etc., but OPE pays "a reduced price".

On the Omega 3 issue, Martin said his clients are feeding two per cent more flax than required to meet the Best Choice standard.

I'm beginning to wonder where honest, hard-working egg producers can find a decent grader.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Small egg producers left stranded

Ontario Pride Eggs has broken its word to continue buying from small-volume egg producers who were marketing to Best Choice Eggs.

That has left them scrounging for markets.

Among those who have been cut off is Pullets Plus, featured in an article here a couple of weeks ago.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Bourdeau settles one lawsuit

Norman Bourdeau has consented to a court order filed in London court recently to one of the charges that L.H. Gray and Sons Ltd. has filed against him, but the judge turned down a request for $31,133.32 from Gray’s lawyers.

Justice W. D. Jenkins of the Superior Court of Ontario wrote that Bourdeau's "accusations are serious and not frivolous" and that he "should not be prevented from pursuing them by the costs of this motion which was settled by consent."
He is leaving it up to the trial judge to establish costs when the central lawsuits are settled. 

The trial judge earlier awarded Gray's lawyers more than $82,000 when he threw out an Anton Piller motion by lawyer Donald Good of Ottawa. The Anton Piller motion is like a search warrant, seeking the electronic files Bourdeau took from Gray. The size of that award is under appeal.

The recent decision in London indicates there are about one million documents at issue. The trial judge has given the lawyers time to sort out which of those documents ought to be allowed into the lawsuits filed by Svante Lind of Best Choice Eggs against Gray, Burnbrae Farms Limited and the Ontario egg board.
Dave Williams
Allison Webster

Bourdeau says in his court filings that Gray is using court actions to try to intimidate and bankrupt him so he won't testify as a witness in Lind's lawsuits and won't continue to help law enforcement and government officials.

Gray's lawyers are running up bills at the rate of $515 per hour for Dave Williams and $350 per hour for Allison Webster.

The recent set of documents from the court in London indicate that Bourdeau sent a 170-page petition to the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission, seeking an inquiry, and then sent the same documents to the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council and the Egg Farmers of Canada national marketing agency.

None of them appear to be taking any action to get to the bottom of the allegations that Justice Jenkins describe as "serious and not frivolous."

Gray's lawyers call the allegations "false," but don't say which ones nor why. They do say that the information in the documents could do the company serious financial harm.

Bourdeau also shared information with 191 Ontario egg producers, explaining why he filed a "consent" to the court action Gray's lawyers filed against him. He was under court order to stop disseminating information.

Under cross examination, John Leitch, chief financial officer, and Scott Brookshaw, vice-president of operations, for L.H. Gray testified that the company has not lost any suppliers as a result of Bourdeau's information and allegations.

Although Gray says he has not engaged in any wrongdoing, Bourdeau alleges in court documents that he manipulated automatic egg-grading equipment so up to five per cent of the eggs that should be Grade A were cracks. That, he said, is worth about $25 to $30 million a year and he says it went on for years.

As a result of publicity about Bill Gray's e-mails, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has ordered its inspectors to stop giving companies advance notice of when they are coming.  The agency is responsible for ensuring the integrity of egg grading.

CFIA fines reports lack names

In one of the more useless things the Canadian Food Inspection Agency does, it has begun to post quarterly reports of the fines - it calls them "administrative penalties" - it has imposed on repeat offenders.

The reports fail to name the offenders in all cases except those applying to truckers.

In that exception, Nadeau Poultry Farm Limited of New Brunswick wins hands down - 20 fines totalling $52,000.

One of the surprises for me is the paucity of fines for meat packers - only five totalling $4,400. And that's assuming that all of the fines under the heading of Health of Animals Act were against meat packers; they could have been farmers, auction barns and a number of other people and companies dealing with livestock or poultry.

The reports posted for the first three quarters of fiscal 2010-11 indicate the CFIA collected $180,700 for 103 fines; there were 93 warnings issued.

So far the CFIA has failed to post the information for the final quarter of 2010-11 which ended March 31.  One can only hope the snivel servants were all too busy doing more productive work.

The quarterly reports will become far more useful when we, the taxpaying public, can know the identities of repeat offenders. One set that should be of particular interest is violators of feed standards and regulations because feed is the biggest single cost of production.