It argues that the programs are needlessly too costly and benefit egg graders more than the intent behind the programs.
For example, eggs for processing garner grading, transportation and handling fees for processors when little or nothing is done to earn those fees, Sweda argues.
When COVID-19 first hit in early 2021, restaurants closed and their demand for eggs vanished. The egg board response was an Early Fowl Removal program that Sweda said proved too costly.
Moreover, when egg farmers placed new flocks, they included hens to produce for the eggs-for-processing program that was no longer needed. The new flocks ought to be limited to quota, Sweda argues; only when restaurant and related demand resumes ought the extra hens be brought into production.
Sweda notes that this program cost $1,248,550 according to the egg board financial report for 2021.
Sweda also argues that farmers only need to be paid for their feed and pullet costs to produce the extra eggs for processing, but in fact are paid the full cost-of-production price for eggs produced within quota.
This inflates costs by about 17 per cent, Sweda argues.
The industry dumped peewee and small eggs at the rate of six to seven loads per week “which represents (production from) between 348,000 and 400,000 birds per week,” Sweda said in its letter to the commission.
Based on provincial marketing board and national agency “published data it is calculated that seven loads a week of small & peewee is almost the total Ontario production for those grades for a week, which is approximately three per cent of total egg production,” Sweda said.
“It does not seem plausible there was not a table market for small eggs for the periods the early egg removal program was implemented and that substantial amounts of small eggs needed to be diverted to the inedible market,” it said.
“Based on the foregoing it is highly probable graders include other eggs like B’s, C’s, Cracks, Rejects and Hatchery Eggs in the EER (early egg removal) program, receiving at least the small price for eggs that have substantially less value or were inedible with zero value to begin with creating a large windfall for the graders.”
Burnbrae Farms and Gray Ridge Eggs are the dominant egg graders in Ontario and also the province’s largest egg producers and egg processors.
So far the commission has only acknowledged that it has received Sweda’s letter.