by SUSAN MANN
Chicken Farmers of Ontario has 30 days to respond to a Practical Farmers of Ontario request to increase the number of chickens farmers can raise without quota.
But if the organization says no again, Sean McGivern, Practical Famers president, says they’ll request the change through an appeal to the Ontario Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal Tribunal. The group is asking the amount be raised to 2,000 meat birds without quota from the current limit of 300 and that farmers be permitted to sell their processed chicken beyond their farm gate.
“We’re not willing to negotiate a watered-down version” of the request, McGivern says.
McGivern and Practical Farmers board member Vera Topp of Guelph attended a 1.5-hour hearing Thursday afternoon before the chicken board at its office in Burlington.
“We believe that they’ve taken us seriously enough that they had their lawyer, Geoffrey Spurr, accompany them at the hearing,” McGivern notes, adding Practical Farmers wasn’t represented by a lawyer.
“We think it’s time the chicken board comes up to speed and meets the needs and requirements of farms in today’s era,” he says. “There’s lots of room in the marketplace for everybody.”
McGivern says in their presentation they included a 600-name petition supporting the change. The supporters are farmers and consumers who filled in the petition found on Practical Farmers’ website. Practical Farmers is continuing the petition and by January they’re hoping to have 1,000 names.
Another group, Sustain Ontario, recently launched a postcard campaign called – Are We Too Chicken? – requesting the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission work with industry stakeholders to increase the number of chickens farmers can raise without quota. BF