by DAVE PINK
A Dundas-area chicken farmer is asking the Ontario Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal Tribunal to reduce the overproduction penalty of more $20,000 imposed on him by the Chicken Farmers of Ontario (CFO).
John Feddes, the owner of La Primavera Farms, attributed the overproduction to a “clerical error.” Feddes, a chicken producer for more than 30 years, told the tribunal that in April 2010 he allowed his daughter, Joanne Feddes, to order the chicks needed to meet that year’s quota requirements. He admitted that he did not check her work even though she had never previously ordered chicks or handled any of the farm’s chicken production business.
He also admitted to the tribunal that neither he nor his daughter closely read a letter from the Chicken Farmers of Ontario setting his quota at about 54,000 kilograms.
The tribunal was told that Primavera Farms was aiming at a production target of more than 65,000 kilograms. Even so, the farm put more than 78,000 kilograms on the market that year.
Feddes pleaded with the tribunal that it was just an honest mistake committed by a rookie employee.
But that doesn’t matter, said Geoff Spurr, the lawyer for the CFO. “The levy is unconcerned with the reason why it occurred,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how the farmer got there; it’s the result.”
Typically, the province’s chicken farmers are allowed to produce up to 104 per cent of their quota, Frank Fortuna, the quota management administrator with the CFO, told the tribunal.
“Once you go beyond that sleeve there is a financial consequence, and they exceeded that sleeve by a considerable degree,” said Spurr.
In addition to the financial penalty, Primavera Farms lost a significant amount of quota based on the 2010 overproduction.
The appeal was heard in Guelph, and a ruling by the three-member tribunal is expected within 30 days. The panel was chaired by Harold McNeely, with Richard Smelski and Tim Mousseau. BF