by SUSAN MANN
Chicken Farmers of Ontario will decide who will be accepted into the New Chicken Farmers Entrant program early next year, says Michael Edmonds, director of communications and government relations.
Yet to be named is an industry advisory committee that will recommend finalists for board approval to the organization’s new entrant program.
This is the first year the program has been run. The deadline for this year’s applications was Oct. 31.
Announced at its annual meeting in March, the program will enable each farmer interested in getting into the chicken industry to get up to 10,000 units of new entrant quota. The board is giving out a maximum of 20,000 units a year. Producers must buy it from the board on a specific schedule over 15 years.
A unit of quota is the right to produce a certain number of pounds of chicken every eight-week quota period.
The exact number of units that any one applicant will receive depends upon how many entrants Chicken Farmers approves, and the amount of quota the entrants applied for. The marketing board requires all farmers to hold a minimum of 14,000 units of production, so successful applications must, in addition, buy some quota on their own to reach the minimum.
Unlike Dairy Farmers of Ontario, Chicken Farmers doesn’t run a quota exchange for farmers to buy and sell quota. Edmonds says no official figures are published on how much chicken quota costs. “You’d have to negotiate that with someone who already has quota.”
The idea of the program is to bring new farmers into the chicken business, Edmonds says. “There’s a real emphasis on trying to give new farmers a start in an industry that’s obviously looking to recruit strong talent. The idea is to try and bring people in who are not coming from the supply management sectors.”
On its website, Chicken Farmers says priority will be given to applicants who have not previously been associated with any supply managed sector.
About criticisms that high quota costs prohibits farmers from getting into supply managed industries such as chicken, eggs and dairy, Edmonds says a lot of businesses are expensive to get in to and each industry has its own start up costs. “That’s true whether it’s the franchise industry or any other.”
Applicants had to pay a non-refundable $250 fee. Some of the eligibility criteria include: being a Canadian citizen and permanent Ontario resident, having a business plan and the chicken in the program must be produced on a registered and owned premise.
Edmonds says the number of applications received will not be announced until later in December. A recent Chicken Farmers newsletter says during the summer the organization’s staff fielded numerous inquires from people interested in becoming chicken farmers.
According to the Chicken Farmers 2011 annual report, 1,013 licensed farmers hold 33.1 million units of basic quota. They produced 452 million live kilograms of chicken meat valued at $720 million before it left the farm. BF