Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Turkey secrets

Why did the Ontario Turkey Producers Marketing Board have to pay a fine of $1,696,55.09 for over-production, and have its production allocation from the national agency cut by 2,274,796 kilograms last year?

It’s a question I had in mind when I applied under Freedom of Information for all correspondence relating to export policies between the turkey board and its supervisory agency, the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission, between Jan. 1, 2006 and Dec. 20,2016.

This week I got an answer from Connie Johnston Hallahan, Business Services Coordinator for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

The answer is that I get nothing.

There were three pages of e-mail correspondence, according to the information she provided, but either that information was private because it involves a “third party” or did not pertain to my question, which was about the turkey board’s export program.

The production penalty was deemed so severe that the Ontario board and national agency agreed to spread it over three years to minimize the impact on the industry.

What I have been told my the national agency is that the penalty applied to operations over a four-year period.

But I was also told that the rumours I had heard about cheating on exports of breeding stock and subsequent imports are only coffee-shop gossip.

I am not completely surprised by the lack of information revealed by the commission and the board to clear up this issue.

The people at the commission have also so far revealed nothing about the appointment of an investigator to examine governance at the egg marketing board.

If that investigator has submitted interim reports, or a final report, we may never know. It hasn’t been sprung yet, even after I filed a Freedom-of-Information application more than a year ago. I have a new application in process.

The basic issue, it seems to me, is that the marketing boards and the commission don’t feel obligated to keep the public informed. They don’t seem to appreciate that they have been granted extraordinary privileges to operate supply management within a capitalist economy.