Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Mediation for Alberta chicken board

Mediation is scheduled to take place over the next couple of weeks to try and bring Alberta back into the fold of the national agency for chicken.

Alberta is “very hopeful” a deal can be reached, said Karen Kirkwood, executive-director of the Alberta Chicken Marketing Board.

Alberta served notice about a year ago that it would pull out of the national agency because it wasn’t being granted the right to increase chicken production as much as it felt it deserved.

It had three months to withdraw that notice, but didn’t. That means it can only remain in next year if all of the other provinces agree.

Kirkwood said the issue is one that Alberta has made clear for a number of years – it’s population is increasing faster than it’s allocations to produce chicken.

Kirkwood said this “gap has been continuing to grow over time.”

Ontario has also been lobbying for years for increased allocations, mainly to meet the demand of processors who have niche markets such as kosher and Hong Kong dressed birds with feet and legs left on.

Ontario’s shortages are complicated – some say caused – by a policy of assigning farm production to specific processing companies, a policy often referred to as “plant allocation”.

The allocations have, according to small-volume competitors, been going to large-volume processors who belong to the Association of Ontario Chicken Processors.

The small-volume processors have no positions on a joint advisory board of processors and the marketing board set up by the provincial government’s Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commisison.