Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Chicken boards reach a deal

Canada’s provincial chicken marketing boards have reached a deal on market shares for the next 10 years.

Ontario and Alberta finally make gains under this deal which will give them an extra 22 million kilograms over the decade, provided the total demand for chicken continues to increase.

All provinces will continue to have the right to produce as much chicken as they now get in their base quota.

It’s the increase that will be skewed in favour of Alberta and Ontario which have complained for years that they have not been allocated their fair share.

Alberta pulled out of the national agency as of Jan. 1 to register its protest. It’s not yet clear whether this new deal will entice it back in.

The new policy is meant to address demands for “differential growth” and “comparative advantage.”

The existence of the new deal was revealed by David Janzen, chairman of the Chicken Farmers of Canada national agency, at a meeting of producers in Abbotsford, B.C.

There has been no mention of the deal on the website for the Chicken Farmers of Ontario marketing board.

Even if Ontario receives the right to produce more chicken, it’s far from clear that small-scale processors who are eager to develop niche markets will get the chicken supplies they seek.

Nor is there any indication that the Ontario board is willing to cede to requests from small-volume producers to increase the number of birds they can raise without quota to 2,000 per year. The limit now is 300.

The small-volume processors may not get what they seek because the large-volume processors, even though they consistently argue for lower production targets for Ontario, have been unwilling to yield any of their market share to small-volume, niche-market processors.

That’s going to be the nub of an appeal hearing that the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal Tribunal has scheduled to begin Monday, Sept. 15, in Guelph.

The small-volume chicken farmers, led by Glenn Black of Providence Bay, Manitoulin Island,  are seeking their own appeal.