Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Hatching egg appeal

Double J Poultry Ltd. has filed an appeal over a new policy the Ontario Broiler Hatching Egg and Chick Commission has implemented to try to reduce the surplus quota for pullets.

The commission has been trying for years to seek a better balance between quota for pullets and quota for hatching-egg operations which use the pullets to lay the eggs that supply hatcheries that, in turn, supply farmers who raise the chickens eaten for meat.

The public hearing is exposing decades of tensions within the industry - between the "independent" pullet growers whose only market is farmers who hold hatching-egg quota and the majority of pullet growers who are raising birds for their own hatching-egg operations, between farmers and hatcheries and, in some cases, between individuals with strong personalities.

It's amazing that the commission manages to function.

That is a credit to a lot of people who try hard to seek compromises and agreements - the directors elected by producers and hatcheries, the late Murray Gaunt and now Jim Rickard who have chaired the commission, the commission staff and commission lawyer Paul Trudell.

While the Wilson, Spurr firm of lawyers that has represented most of Ontario's supply-management marketing boards has been confrontational and litigious, Trudell has helped to calm troubled waters.

In fact, much of his time recently is spent as a hired mediator trying to help people involved in disputes to settle their differences out of court.

The tribunal panel that is hearing this Double J case has a tough issue on its hands.

The chair and lawyer Paula Lombardi is running a tight ship and Richard Smelski and Doug Flook are listening closely as a list of witnesses testifies.

I must say that the Commission has earned my respect for being able to manage the industry through all of the tensions and difficulties typical of the Ontario poultry industry. I hope this appeal proves to be the only one for years to come.