Wednesday, December 28, 2011

U.S. egg imports continue

An informed source in the Ontario egg-grading business says Canadian egg graders have imported about 50 loads of U.S. eggs on supplementary import permits since Nov. 1.

A couple of supermarket chains sold the eggs on special - $1.88 at Wal-Mart, three dozen for $5 at Metro stores.

I fully expect there will be another record volume of surplus eggs dumped into the market in January, all to be moved to processing at the expense of egg farmers.

An informed source says one of Ontario's biggest grading stations had plenty of Ontario eggs this year - so many that the company had trouble keeping up with grading and was cautioned by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to do a better job of ensuring that Grade A cartons contain fresh eggs.

I wonder if the same CFIA staff cautioned L.H. Gray and Sons Ltd. to refrain from putting cracks into Grade A cartons.  So far the CFIA has said nary a word about court documents alleging that L.H. Gray and Sons Ltd. included about five per cent cracks in its retail-ready cartons of Grade A eggs. Whistleblower Norman Bourdeau estimates that bloated Gray's profits by $15 million or more per year for 10 years or more.

Gray's lawyers contend the company did nothing wrong. Either a judge will decide or there will be an out-of-court settlement that is highly unlikely to include any admissions of guilt.

Pelissero gift for graders

Harry Pelissero, general manager of the Egg Farmers of Ontario marketing board, is proposing changes to the definition of “Ontario eggs” that qualify for advertising and promotion subsidies under the province’s Foodland Ontario program.

The proposal is to allow up to 10 per cent of the eggs marketed under that logo to be “sourced from outside of Ontario.”

The proposal is outlined in a Dec. 6 letter to those who grade eggs and offers an opportunity to provide feedback.

The egg board offices are closed between Christmas and New Year, so no officials could be reached immediately for comment on who might have asked for the change or whether the board of directors and egg farmers were consulted.

Ontario’s main commercial egg-grading companies, such as Best Choice Eggs before it was sold this year, Burnbrae Farms Ltd. and Gray Ridge Egg Farms, have been importers of U.S. eggs whenever the national egg marketing agency – Egg Farmers of Canada – has been unable to find enough Canadian-produced eggs to meet market demand.
There have been increasing volumes of imported eggs, brought in under supplementary import permits granted by the federal government, in recent years.  Eggs imported under the supplementary import permits escape the high tariff designed to protect Canadian egg producers from lower-priced competition.

Until now, the Foodland Ontario promotion campaign has required that eggs sold under its logo be laid on Ontario farms.

Now Pelissero's proposal is to change that to allow up to 10 per cent of fresh Ontario eggs to be “sourced outside of Ontario”.

The change could be a significant benefit to egg-grading stations which would be able to put imported eggs into standard retail-ready packages rather than having to keep imported eggs separate and packaged in different retail-ready cartons.

It might, however, undermine consumer confidence in the Foodland Ontario logo and support for supply management.

Pigeon King court delays

Arlan Galbraith, the self-styled Pigeon King, is probably months away from a trial to deal with a charge of fraud and several of violating bankruptcy law.

The charges came up again in Ontario Provincial Court in Kitchener today and the issues were put over to Jan. 18.

Judging by comments by Galbraith’s lawyer, Paul Williams, there will be another adjournment on Jan. 18 because he said he is still consulting with Galbraith on some issues and there are more pre-trial meetings to be held between him and the crown attorney.

Waterloo Region Police laid charges against Galbraith after more than a year of investigations and interviews with investors who bought breeding birds either from Galbraith directly or later from his Pigeon King International Inc. company.

Some, such as officials in Iowa, have described Galbraith’s business as a Ponzi scheme, meaning that the system pays only as long as new investors can be found and eventually that supply dries up.

Galbraith sold breeding pairs with a promise, or contracts, to buy back offspring at prices far above meat value.

Eventually the market for breeding stock would be saturated and the pigeons would need to be sold as meat birds, but so far that is a small market.

Galbraith told investors he had plans to build a plant to slaughter and process pigeons, but construction never began.

Meanwhile, he persuaded thousands of people to invest in pigeons, starting in Ontario and spreading west as far as Alberta and south into Pennsylvania, Ohio and Iowa. Old Order Mennonites were a significant percentage of the investors.

Officials in Iowa made him stop on the basis that they felt the business was a Ponzi scheme.
Galbraith put Pigeon King International Inc. into voluntary bankruptcy, stranding his contract clients with no market for their birds.

Later some of those who invested directly with Galbraith, before he incorporated Pigeon King, pushed him into personal bankruptcy.

Galbraith ran the business out of an office in Waterloo, but now has returned to his former home territory near Cochrane in Northern Ontario.

The bankruptcies took two of his homes, one in Waterloo and the other Sacred Dove Ranch near Cochrane.

Sunday, December 25, 2011


I am getting a little long in the tooth, so please be patient with my Christmas memories - as a child on a farm near Petersburg where my Dad was an outstanding breeder of Yorkshire pigs and Holstein cattle.

I recall that at Christmas, we made sure all of the stalls were extra clean, there was extra bedding and the hay was the best second-cut crop in the mow.

I also recall that my school-teacher Mom knew how to build excitement and anticipation. Presents under the tree had to wait to be opened. First came barn chores, then a special breakfast, then a thorough cleanup that dragged on for ages and ages. And finally the family would gather by the tree to open presents.

My parents also emphasized why we celebrate Christmas.  My understanding and attitudes have matured and transformed a number of times since then. I am thankful for the peace and contentment God has granted- truly a rich blessing.

I pray that you, too, may discover who God is, your situation in relation to Him, and humble yourself to accept His Christmas gift.

And may you be blessed with peace and contentment throughout the New Year. May it be the best you have ever experienced, and the least of many more to follow!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Maple Lodge loses court case

Maple Lodge Farms Ltd. has reached the end of the road in its legal challenges in New Brunswick.

The Supreme Court of Canada has refused the company’s application for a judicial review of its complaints aimed at securing a supply of chickens for its Nadeau Poultry Ltd. plant in New Brunswick.

The court also ruled that Maple Lodge must shoulder court costs.

Meanwhile construction continues on a rival plant being built by Sunnymel, a partnership between Westco Ltd. and Olymel of Quebec.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Two U.S. poultry deals

I went shopping for a Christmas turkey today. The best deal I could find was $1.99 a pound in a Sobey's store that advertised utlility-grade birds for 99 cents a pound, but had nary one of them on display.

I should have picked up a turkey for 74 cents a pound when we were in a supermarket in the United States.

But my grousing is nothing compared with the way Ontarions are short-changed by supply management for the turkey and chicken industries.

Our processing sector is consolidating, resulting in the loss of hundreds of jobs as plants are closed.

Meanwhile, just across the U.S. border, processors are building new plants and hiring more staff. And, one can assume, farmers are selling more birds.

There is no natural advantage over Ontario for the poultry industries in Ohio and Indianna. They are tilling similar land in a similar climate. They are buying the same genetic chickens and turkeys as Ontario farmers. 

Their feed mills are no more competitive than ours; we have, in fact, one of the most competitive feed sectors in all of Canada within the confines of the Waterloo Region.

We have a slight competitive currency advantage at the current value of the Canadian dollar.

The big difference - and it is overwhelming - is supply management, its central control that stifles innovations, its higher prices and costs of doing business and the brakes that puts on consumer purchasing.

In Ohio, Park Farms has told 250 workers at its Park Poultry chicken-processing plant in North-east Ohio that they will be laid off Feb. 17, but they can apply to get their jobs back with the new owner, whose identity has not been revealed.

In next-door Indianna, family-owned Farbest Foods Inc. has announced plans to build a $69-million, 220,000-square-foot turkey processing plant on a 100-acre site near Vincennes.

The company contracts with about 170 farmers to raise about 10 million birds per year.
It’s current plant is double-shifted and at capacity.

The new plant will start with 350 employees and when it double-shifts, it expects to have 600 workers there.

Here in Ontario, the turkey industry has been stagnant for at least 10 years, hardly growing any more birds despite a major population increase. 

Ontario's natural competitive advantages over other provinces remains stifled because of the dysfunctional politics of supply management.

Nor dare politicians raise so much as a whisper of criticism. The supply-management sector spends millions, and is extremely aggressive, in ensuring politicians remain 110 per cent committed to every jot and tittle of supply management.

Central command and control of economies never works over the long term, and it's not working for Canada's dairy and poultry sectors. All that remains is to see when and how it collapses.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

DeWolde dead at 67

Swine breeder Henry (Hedrik) DeWolde died Tuesday, Dec. 20. He was 67.

He established Bra-Ma-Rod Farm at Ashburn.

He also rescued Ontario Swine Improvement Inc. from bankruptcy several years after the federal and provincial governments privatized their genetic improvement programs.

He changed roles from elected president to general manager and implemented radical changes to save money, yet to continue offering key services to hog producers, including artificial insemination while it was the only entity offering the service in Ontario.

He moved the business out of a test station between New Dundee and New Hamburg and established it in new facilities near Innerkip.

He helped settle raging controversies over the agency’s future and envisioned a future of “target hogs” tailored to specific markets, such as supermarket brand-name pork of specific qualities.

When he retired from the hog business, he bought and ran Shelter Valley Mobile Home Park near Picton.

His son, Rod, has followed him in hog breeding and as a director of Ontario Swine Improvement Inc.

Henry went to the New Orleans area as a disaster-response volunteer after Hurricane Katrina devastated the area and soon ended up managing the relief efforts for that agency.

He was a member of Bethany Christian Reformed Church where funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Dec. 23.

Donations to Christian Reformed World Relief Committee are welcomed as expressions of sympathy.

He is survived by his wife, Wilma, sons Mark, Rod and Brad and daughter Becky.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Canada vs. Ethiopia

Remember the images of starving people in Ethiopia?

Remember that there have been recent news reports that the same is about to happen this winter?

And recall that many leading economists and political analysts have said that opening up trade for poor nations is far more valuable than all of the international aid spending put together.

Then ask our Canadian politicians why they are making life difficult for Ethiopia's request to join the World Trade Organization so it can realize the benefits of improved market access.

Fortune magazine, in a report on current World Trade negotiations, highlights the Ethiopian application and says "as was the case in 2008, the second working party meeting saw the usual suspects – the US, the EU, and Canada – challenging Ethiopia’s negotiators on issues such as pricing policies, import regulations, customs procedures, export restrictions, stare enterprises, and technical barriers to TRIPS, an overly employed term for 
trade, intellectual property, and services.

"But, the toughest demand comes on the issue of opening the financial and telecom sectors to foreign competition, a matter yet to be negotiated," says Fortune magazine.

It is shameful that Canada's Conservative ruling party and the leaders of the United States, Europe and Japan failed to agree to implement a deal that has already been worked out in Geneva to help the world's Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

Another deal that should be easy to achieve and implement is disciplines on international food aid. Canada and most other countries - the U.S. is the notable exception - long ago adopted voluntary disciplines. Bringing those terms into the World Trade Organization would make them enforceable.

The political leaders of the wealthy nations claim they can't implement these agreements to benefit the poorest people of the world until there is agreement on an overall deal.

What that really means is that they are holding out for a deal that will enable their bankers and financial-services companies to move in on markets in these poor countries, and a deal to enforce patent rights for powerful companies, such as the pharmaceutical and internet giants.

Their argument about requiring an overall deal is nonsense.

At the same meeting, they boasted that they are close to deal to knock down barriers so foreign companies can bid on government contracts. If they can move ahead on that single issue, then they can move on the deal to benefits the poorest people in the poorest nations of the world.

It's time for Canadians to insist that its negotiating team work to implement the spirit of this round of world trade negotiations, which is to benefit the developing nations. Canadians need to realize that our negotiators, and those for the U.S., Europe and Japan, are responsible for the impasse because they are insisting on terms that will improve opportunities for our banks and are insisting on protecting every last detail of our sky-high trade barriers for dairy and poultry farmers.

IBM handles Chinese food safety

International Business Machines (IBM) has landed a contract to develop a food-safety traceability system for a Chinese supermarket chain.

It has also won another contract to develop a system for pork producers, packers and retailers in one part of the country.

Here in North America, we expect governments and industry organizations to develop the systems.

China also depended on government officials, but learned from bitter experience that those systems failed.  Western nations have, of course, been quick to jump on the Chinese failures, hoping, no doubt, to stem the inroads the Chinese have made into their markets.

There is far less transparency about North American failures, especially the failures of government inspectors. Maybe we should hire IBM.

Monday, December 19, 2011

No Quebec chicken decision – yet

The Régis that regulates marketing boards in Quebec has not yet issued its decision on a controversial deal between Quebec and Ontario chicken marketing boards to stop inter-provincial trade of live birds.
The Quebec marketing board and processors had until the end of November to either reach unanimous agreement on the proposal or to return the issue to the Régis for its decision.

All but a few small-scale processors in Quebec favour the deal.

The situation is similar in Ontario where the marketing board and the Association of Ontario Chicken Processors are poised to introduce regulations designed to end inter-provincial trade and assign Ontario-grown chickens to Ontario processors.

There is an association representing smaller-scale Ontario processors which has complained that its concerns may get trampled by the agreement.

There is also  the question of whether the agreement can withstand a court challenge on the basis that the provincial premiers and the prime minister have signed agreements to reduce and eventually eliminate inter-provincial trade barriers.

Egg dispute still unsettled

The dispute between Egg Farmers of Canada and the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council remains unsettled.
The two met for a third time recently, but were unable to reach an agreement on contracting terms for the diversion of eggs from the “table” to the “processing” market.

Egg Farmers of Canada is concerned by an increase in the volume of eggs that grading stations have declared surplus to table-market demand, especially in the weeks immediately after the Christmas and Easter seasons.

It hasn't helped matters that the two biggest Canadian graders - L.H. Gray and Sons Ltd. and Burnbrae Farms Ltd. - have used supplementary import permits to bring in U.S. eggs before the two festive seasons.

Two years ago some of those U.S. eggs owned by Gray ended up in unrefrigerated storage north of Guelph and were condemned by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. They eventually went for processing, apparently at the expense of Canadian egg producers who pay a levy on all egg marketings to underwrite the price differential between table-market and processing-market eggs.

Last year there were so many surplus eggs that there was a two-week backlog for processing in January.

The situation this year remains to be determined.

There were reports that at the end of November that Gray had so many Ontario eggs that the company couldn't keep up with grading and was warned by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency that it was holding table-market eggs too long.

That would seem to indicate there would be no need for supplementary imports from the United States.

Second Quebec cheese recall

For the second time in less than a week, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has expanded recalls of Quebec-made cheeses and revealed that at least one person fell sick after eating the products.

The first case involved Clic-brand cheeses and butters. The second involves the Bio-Life and Marie Kadé brands. In both cases, the company identifications given out by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency are numbered companies.

The second case is 3903052 Canada Inc. of Boisbriand, Que.

It’s not clear why the Canadian government isn’t revealing the company names more familiar to the  public. It is, in fact, Fromagerie Marie Kadé.

In both cases, the recalls are because the dairy products are possibly contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Consumer sickened by lysteria in cheese

Officials are finally admitting that one consumer of Clic-brand cheese or butter was sickened with listeriosis, according to Dr. Doug Powell of Kansas State University.

Powell is highly critical of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for burying the information deep in a news release announcing an expansion of a recall that began Nov. 11.

When it issued the original news, the CFIA said nobody was sick.

Now Garfield Balsom of the CFIA has told that  “during a review of the company’s voluntary recall it was discovered that several products had been missed.

“The manufacturer has ceased production at its facilities and the CFIA (is) working with them to make sure other products manufactured by the company are safe to consume.”

Powell wonders, on his Barfblog website, “did the one identified individual get sick from consuming Clic products that were previously recalled?

Cheeses bearing establishment number 1874, and any Best Before dates up to and including those listed below, are affected by the new recall:
Clic Moujadalé 300 – 400 g None 11 MAR 2012
Clic Riviera 300 – 400 g None 11 FEB 2012
Clic Tressé 300 – 400 g None 11 NOV 2012
Clic Vachekaval 300 – 400 g None 11 MAR 2012

The following dairy products bear establishment number 1874. These products have a four digit lot code. If the last 2 digits of the lot code are 45 or lower, e.g. xx-45, xx-44, etc, they are affected by this alert:
Brand Product Size UPC
Clic Desi Butter Ghee 454 g (1 lbs) None
Clic Desi Butter Ghee 907 g (2 lbs) None
The CFIA says these products have been distributed in Quebec and Ontario “but may also have been distributed to other provinces.”

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sunnymel hiring 250

 A day after Maple Lodge said it’s laying off a quarter of its Nadeau Poultry Ltd. employees in New Brunswick, there is a news report that rival Sunnymel will hire 250 for its new plant.
Sunnymel’s plant, which is under construction now, is slated to begin processing chickens next fall, eventually reaching capacity of 450,000 birds a week.
Sunnymel is a joint venture of Groupe Westco Inc. and Olymel of Quebec. Westco has lured most of the chicken producers in New Brunswick into its fold and that has left Nadeau without supplies.
Nadeau has pleaded with the New Brunswick government to order the chicken producers to supply its plant, but the politicians are refusing to intervene in what they describe as business competition.
Meanwhile, Maple Lodge has a joint venture with Nova Scotia chicken producers and is building a new plant there. While it’s awaiting completion, Nova Scotia birds are processed at the Nadeau plant.

And while the partners await completion of the Sunnymel plant, Westco chickens are being slaughtered in Olymel plants in Quebec.

This is far from the only long-distance chicken hauling because of competition for processing-plant supplies.
Birds are being trucked to and from Quebec from the Niagara Peninsula area. Marketing boards in the two provinces have a deal to stop that inter-provincial flow of chickens, but they have not yet gained provincial government approvals to implement their deal.


Schlegel chosen for CAHC award

Clare Schlegel of Shakespeare, Ont., has been chosen by the Canadian Animal Health Coalition (CAHC) as this year’s winner of the Carl Block Award.

The award is in remembrance of Carl Block, first chairman of the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency, director of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and inaugural chairman of the Canadian Animal Health Coalition. He was also president of the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association.

Schlegel was chosen for his dedication to the hog industry.

He served as president of the Canadian Pork Council, as chairman of the Ontario Pork producers marketing board and co-chair in 1996 of the National Farmed Animal Health Stategy development process.

The next year he was co-chair of a task force which led to the formation of the Canadian Swine Health Board. He served as chairman of the Canadian Pork Council’s working group on traceability. 

He said, after visiting many countries, that “animal health is either the number one reason for success on a farm or the number one limiting factor.”

He began farming in 1979 and developed a highly-successful business that includes broiler chickens, grain handling and trucking. He participates with several farmers in an integrated hog-production business.

Schlegel served as Canadian Pork Council director to the CAHC from 2003-2008, including several years as chairman.

He experienced the devastating effects of circovirus and recognized the need for quick disease response systems. 

When he was president of the Canadian Pork Council from 2004-2008, he was a key leader in the West Hawk Lake Zoning Initiative, guiding efforts to help industry and government more effectively deal with this disease. 

“The CAHC would like to congratulate Clare and through this award we recognize his diligent efforts on behalf of the Canadian Animal Health system,” said Dr. Jim Fairles, current chairman of the CAHC.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ontario chicken farmers face cuts

Ontario’s chicken quota holders will need to trim production by 2.1 per cent for the quota period that runs from March 25 to May 19.

Meanwhile, Quebec producers will be allowed to increase production by 0.6 per cent.

Nationally, the total allocation for quota period A-110 is down by 0.7 per cent.

Ontario’s total allocation – a combination of regular and market-development quota, adjusted for year-earlier over-production or under-production, is 53,371,825 kilograms. Quebec’s is 44,526,304 and the national total is 162,788,803.

I find this all rather strange, given testimony during a public hearing by the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission this fall. 

Henry Zantingh, vice-chairman of the Chicken Farmers of Ontario marketing board, said Ontario has consistently failed to get enough allocation from the national agency to meet market demand.

And he indicated that newfound harmonious relationships with the province's dominant chicken processors at a newly-formed Chicken Industry Advisory Committee would rectify this injustice.

According to his testimony, and that of Reg Cliche, chairman of the Association of Ontario Chicken Processors, they were on the brink of completing a new strategic plan to guide the Ontario chicken industry into a glorious future.

But the allocation figures for A-110 indicate it's more of the same old, same old.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

More Maple Lodge layoffs

Hard on the heels of the news that Maple Lodge will close the Beamsville plant it bought from Grand River Poultry, laying off about 100 employees, the company announced it is cutting more than 60 workers from its staff of 250 at Nadeau Poultry in New Brunswick.

The New Brunswick layoffs should come as no surprise since Sunnymel, a joint venture backed by Westco and Olymel, has captured most of the chicken production in the province. For now, the birds are being shipped to Olymel plants in Quebec, but construction is underway on a new plant in New Brunswick.

True to form, Maple Lodge blamed the layoffs on the failure of the New Brunswick government to order farmers to sell their birds to its Nadeau Poultry Ltd. plant. The politicians dabbled with that idea, but eventually backed off to let farmers sell their birds as they wish.

It's ironic that Bob and Jack May, who founded Maple Lodge and were dead-set against supply management for the chicken industry, now whine and complain that there isn't enough supply management to suit them.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Hurricane Isabel

My wife, Barb, and I have just returned from two weeks in North Carolina where we participated in a survey team of 12 people looking to find any households that will need help to recover from Hurricane Isabel which devastated the area in late August.

The area we surveyed is near Aurora, on the south bank, and Belhaven, on the north shore, of Pamlico Sound. The hurricane drove water up the sound, flooding the area. Many homes had water two feet deep, destroying drywall to that level, flooring, furniture, appliances and heating/air-conditioning units.

Sustained winds topping 100 miles per hour ripped off rooves and toppled trees on homes.

There are many poor people in this area, some without insurance on their homes and many with medical challenges. Roughly a quarter to a third of the people are poor because medical bills have taken all of their savings.

The federal government provides assistance, but it is rarely enough to replace all of the necessities that have been lost.

We visited about 4,000 households and found about 200 in dire straits. The information we collected has been turned over to the local Long-Term Recovery Organization so the people there can begin to tap all available resources to meet the needs of the people.

We are blessed beyond our reckoning to live in Canada.

Incidentally, the main employer in Aurora is Potash Corp., digging out marine fossil remains over a huge area of many square miles. Those who have jobs with this Canadian company are faring much, much better than others in the community.

Maple Lodge lays off Beamsville staff

Maple Lodge Farms Ltd. is closing the chicken-processing plant at Beamsville that it bought from Grand River Foods Inc.

The deal closed this month and then about 100 employees at Beamsville learned they have lost their jobs.

The chickens will be processed at Maple Lodge’s high-volume plant at Norval, which is next door to Mississauga.

Maple Lodge is second only to Maple Leaf Foods Inc. in chicken-processing volume in Ontario and this deal to purchase Grand River’s volume may put it on top.

Grand River said it will use the money – they don’t say how much – to continue expanding its further-processing operations at Cambridge and perhaps to buy other companies in the further-processing business.

Maple Lodge is partnering with a farmer-owned co-operative to build a new chicken-processing plant in Nova Scotia. The fate of its plant, Nadeau Poultry, in New Brunswick remains uncertain since rival Sunnymel began construction of a plant nearby that will be large enough to handle all of New Brunswick’s chicken production.

Maple Lodge has tried, but failed, to persuade the New Brunswick government to intervene to ensure continued chicken supplies for its plant there.

Another deal that’s in the works, but not yet implemented, would stop inter-provincial movement of chicken between Ontario and Quebec. That would involve major changes in which farmers will be supplying which chicken-processing plants in each of the provinces.

Lowbank appeal delayed

The appeal that Lowbank Farms Ltd. filed against the Chicken Farmers of Ontario marketing board has been delayed into next year.

No date has yet been set by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal Tribunal. The public hearing was originally scheduled for Dec. 13 in Guelph.

Harry Fennema, owner of Lowbank Farms, filed the appeal to gain relief from marketing board controls that make it difficult for him to match production with processing capacity at a plant run by his brother, John.

They set up the farm and processing plant to run as an integrated operation, but marketing board policies result in times when there are either too many birds being produced, or not enough.

When there are too many, the marketing board has directed the extras to Maple Leaf Foods Ltd., but that hasn’t been practical for Maple Leaf because the volume is too small.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Geneva beckons

Dairy and poultry farmers are about to spend a small fortune sending leaders to Geneva where they intend to lobby whoever will listen in an attempt to preserve Canada's trade barriers during World Trade Organization negotiations..

I think this is a huge waste of money.

There is no other country involved in the negotiations that has any interest in preserving Canada's high tariffs. They are, in fact, annoyed or downright angry about Canada's absolute refusal to budge on supply management.

The presence of our supply management leaders at Geneva serves only to raise the profile of our stubborn defiance of all that the talks are aimed at accomplishing. Canadian farmers would be better advised to keep everybody at home, and our heads down, so the others won't notice that Canada is so totally out of step.

Carolynne Griffiths, the lame-duck chair of the Ontario egg board, has written a letter to all of egg and pullet quota holders, justifying her trip to Geneva on the basis two old wives' tales - that 90 per cent of success is simply showing up and that those who show up make the rules.

In this case, showing up will not bring success. And our dairy and poultry industry leaders will not be making any rules in these trade talks.

Griffiths says every country has sensitive sectors that it is trying to protect, and therefore Canada's dairy and poultry sectors are far from alone at the negotiations. Yes, Carolynne. However, no other country is trying to protect a system as unique as Canadian supply management. Second, every country knows that the negotiations underway aim to cut protectionism across the board. The last time, all protections were converted into tariffs. This time, the negotiations are to lower tariffs.

If Griffiths wants to strike a meaningful blow for the preservation of supply management for the Ontario egg industry, she could aggressively investigate allegations of cheating by Burnbrae and Gray Ridge.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

NFU elects Ann Slater

Ontario voters elected Ann Slater to head the Ontario branch of the National Farmers Union.

What remains to be seen is whether and when the national organization will honour that election result by appointing her Ontario co-ordinator.

That's one of many features of NFU politics and practices that seem to be giving the Ontario Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeals Tribunal pause in issuing a decision on whether to renew accreditation so the NFU can continue to collect membership dues under the province's mandatory program.

In fact, the tribunal has yet to issue a re-accreditation decision for any of the three general farm organizations - the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario and the National Farmers Union.

The original public hearings were held back in June. The NFU situation was opened up to additional public hearings in the fall after several executive members who resigned reported insider information to the tribunal.

So, can anybody tell me how the three organizations can continue to collect dues if their re-accreditation has not been granted?

MF Global debacle

MF Global is in bankruptcy, and the trustees are still looking for more than $1 billion they have so far been unable to find.

Farmers hope it's not money they invested in hedging strategies.

MF Global's hedging services were popular among farmers in the United States, but they've been waiting for more than a month to hear whether their money has been lost.

Some have recovered about 20 per cent, but don't know the fate of the rest of their money.

One intermediary service for farmers has about $40 million placed as hedges with MF Global.

In theory, these hedging investments ought to be safe and secure, but it seems possible that MF Global scammed their money. The company's executives are being grilled now by Senators in the Agriculture Committee.

It seems that regulation in the U.S. was lacking for more than just banks and Wall Street firms.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Chicken prices declining

Chicken prices have peaked and are heading down.

Producer prices in period A-108, which runs from Dec. 4 to Jan 28, are 5.4 cents lower than those of period A-107 in most provinces.

On average, the Canadian live price in A-108 is 20 cents higher than in the corresponding weeks of the previous year.

The Ontario live price for A-108 is $1.635/Kg.

The national supply management program has brought stocks into decline. 

They were down by 6.5 per cent on Nov. 1 from a year ago – 32.5 million kilograms compared with 35.5 last year – and down by 2.3 million kilograms from Oct. 1.

Production during October was down by 2.2 per cent and year to date by 0.6 per cent. Ontario production was down by 1.3 per cent this October and in Quebec by 2.2 per cent.

Production cuts have been greater in the U.S. than in Canada, and sets for hatching continue to decline there.

Year-to-date production is down by 1.2 per cent in Ontario and by 2.2 per cent in Quebec.

Year-to-date production totals 863 million kilograms.

Imports are up by 6.7 per cent to 140.4 million kilograms, an increase of 8.9 million from this point last year.