Thursday, June 21, 2012

Government censors chicken industry plan

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs says it will censor almost everything in a report prepared by a committee it appointed to prepare a plan for the chicken industry.

The Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission appointed the Chicken Industry Advisory Committee last year, took on the chairmanship of the committee and put some of its own members on the committee along with appointees from the Association of Ontario Chicken Processors and the Chicken Farmers of Ontario marketing board.

The advisory committee is supposed to develop a strategic plan to enhance the competitive future of the Ontario chicken industry.

One of its more immediate tasks has been developing a policy surrounding an upcoming ban on trading live chickens with Quebec.

As part of that policy, one of the most successful plants at developing niche markets – CAMI International Poultry Inc. – has been denied access to Ontario chickens to replace about 700,000 birds per quota period it has been buying from Quebec producers.

All other Ontario processors have had their losses from Quebec replaced by Ontario-grown chickens.

In a letter to me today, assistant deputy minister Karen Chan indicates she intends to censor everything but some parts of the cover page and some parts of two diagrams. The "third parties" have 30 days to appeal that proposal. They are the chicken board and the AOCP, so you could blow me down with a feather if they appeal.

Corinne Johnston Hallahan, who handled the file, said in a telephone interview that the report “is not our document” and therefore release does not fall under provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.

I countered that the committee was appointed by the government, is chaired by a commission member and was not the brain-child of either the chicken board or the Association of Ontario Chicken Processors.

Of course, any of you out there who has access to a copy could stuff it in a plain brown envelope and send it to me at 16-50 Bryan Court, Kitchener, N2A 4N4.