Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Processors rule chicken

The winter newsletter from Chicken Farmers of Ontario makes it clear that the board and staff have relinquished supply management to the big processing companies which dominate the Association of Ontario Chicken Processors.

In the past the board at least made a charade of exercising control over how much chicken is produced in Ontario. In practice, it was always the processors who drove their decision on volumes.

That's why Ontario has always been short of chicken, why the small and aggressive processors resorted to buying chickens from Quebec producers and why further processors imported chicken from other provinces, at times from as far away as Newfoundland.

The chicken board says in its newsletter that when it  became aggressive about setting production higher, supplies backed up at wholesale, prices declined and the processors were able to pressure farm-level prices down.

The chicken board says it's better to keep things steady, and claims that's when sales increase.

This is, of course, pure balderdash.

The chicken that backs up at wholesale is the least desirable products from the least desirable processors at the least desirable times. And probably from those who offer the worst customer service.

But by listening to them, the board ensures that even their chicken gets sold at profitable prices.

And everybody else, supplying the most desirable products at the most desirable times with the best service can't get enough.

And the board wants us to believe that strategy increases sales over the long haul?

With reasoning like that, who needs these guys in charge of supply management?

And how, pray tell, does the Ontario government, via the Ontario Farm Products Marketing  Commission, justify this approach to the wellbeing of the Ontario economy?

And how do they justify their refusal to supply Ontario chicken to one of the most innovative and competitive companies, CAMI International Poultry Inc. of Welland. They're being asked to answer that one in court.

And here I was, almost ready to believe Premier Dalton McGuinty and Agriculture Minister Ted McMeekin when they said they want innovation and oompetitiveness to drive the Ontario economy.

Balderdash and double balderdash!