© Copyright AgMedia Inc
by BETTER FARMING STAFF
In Canada the chicken, turkey, egg and dairy industries employ a quota system that matches supply with demand ensuring stable pricing and consistent supply. Beginning in 2009 however the chicken board will allow operators to sell up to 300 birds a year at the farm gate without having to buy quota.
Ann Slater, president of Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario (EFAO), says her association is “happy” with the marketing board’s Thursday announcement. The EFAO and the National Farmers Union have been pushing for a relaxation of the board’s quota exemptions since 2005.
Small flock operators have been able to raise birds for their own use since 2006, says Mary Fearon, a spokesperson for the board. Quota prices are negotiated between farmers for each sale but quota value for 300 birds could be around $15,000 according to numbers published on the board’s website
Fearon says the decision to relax marketing restrictions follows a pilot program held this year. It attracted more than 8,000 participants.
Participants sold an average of 61 birds over the course of a year. “So the number 300 more than accommodates the majority of the people,” she says.
Although considerably more than the 102 allowed until 2006, Fearon admits Ontario is still more restrictive than other provinces.
Alberta Chicken Producers don’t require those growing and marketing up to 2,000 birds a year to buy quota. Communal farms with up to 6,000 birds are also exempt.
“In the West they may have had to address some Mennonite communities,” she says. “But there are other provinces that have 300 as a number.”
In Ontario, producers must register with the marketing board to get their birds. “We’ve coordinated with the hatcheries and broker dealers so they need the form 300 in order to purchase the chicks.”
Producers will also have to take the form to the custom processor “so that there’s some coordination along throughout the system.”
Fearon says there’s no cost for registering right now, but the regulation permits the board to impose a fee in the future if it wants.
Producers can register online and with broker dealers and hatcheries early in 2009.
She anticipates the board will see the same numbers participating as those in 2008.
Harry Pelissero, general manager of Egg Farmers of Ontario, says his organization looked at its quota exemption limit for egg-layers and decided against an increase.
Those with layer flocks of up to 100 birds don’t have to pay quota. They can use the eggs for their own use or farm gate sales. There are no registration requirements.
Pelissero says there some quota exempt producers with flocks numbering 500. They are members of the Mennonite community and obtained special exemption arrangements in the early years of the marketing board’s operation. BF