Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Burnbrae Farms is building a huge egg-laying complex barely over the border into Quebec, reportedly to save money on electricity.

It’s Randy Hillier, outspoken leader of the Ontario Landowners Association and a Tory member of the Ontario legislature who says electricity rates are the reason for the location.

But with Burnbrae, my experience is that most of its major decisions are rooted in marketing board politics.

Reporter Ian Cumming writes that “just a kilometre or two east of the Glengarry County border, and about a 10-minute drive north of Hwy 401, down a Quebec gravel road, a massive cage-free egg barn complex is being constructed.

The location . . . is not only based on the proximity to the freeway corridor linking the Montreal and Toronto markets, but is also based on a far cheaper Hydro rate in Quebec.

Hillier is claiming that Ontario electricity rates are about double Quebec’s.

Burnbrae’s barns have no cages, so they qualify to meet upcoming standards announced by McDonald’s, Burger King and other major retail chains.

Meanwhile the Ontario marketing board and its parent, the national agency, are relying on “enhanced cages” to retain markets. It’s not clear that the retailers will be satisfied and, if not, Burnbrae will be in a strong competitive position.

Burnbrae is the nation’s largest egg-producing, egg-grading and egg-processing conglomerate in Canada and L.H. Gray and Sons Ltd. and Gray Ridge Eggs are second in all of those same categories.

Gray Ridge has also been investing in cage-free housing.