Thursday, April 11, 2013

Federal-Provincial Chicken Deal

I previously Blogged about how governments signed the Federal-Provincial Agreement for Chicken 2001 on how they will run the chicken supply management system in Canada, and the duties of the Chicken Farmers of Canada ("CFC") under that deal.  To ensure agreement and compliance, a total of 33 organizations signed on that agreement, binding them to follow the mutually agreed rules.

On Mar. 7 2013, I  asked CFC to provide me objective evidence of their on-going compliance with that Fed-Prov Chicken Agreement.  It's been a month now, and no answer yet.  I wonder why?

To be fair to stakeholders and effective, we need 4 minimum requirements in an agreement such as this:

Mandatory Requirements
  1. People have to know what is expected
  2. They have to have adequate resources (time, $, technology, knowledge, training, etc.) so that they can implement the various tasks so as to meet the expectations.
  3. They have to be able to make timely and accurate measurements of what they achieved, and compare that to what was expected (see Item #1 above).
  4. They have to be able to close any gap between what was expected, and what actually occurred.
Requirement #1:   Clear Expectations

Of all the Supply Management Systems in Canada for chicken, I like this agreement.  It's well written, and seems to recognize the rights of Canadians, and the duty of the system to serve the public.  For example, it seems to clearly state the expectations, per Requirement #1 above:

1.00 Purpose and Objectives
1.01 This Agreement provides for an orderly marketing system for chicken coordinated in a flexible and market responsive manner having appropriate safeguards so as to provide consistency, predictability and stability in accordance with the following objectives:
a) to optimize sustainable economic activity in the chicken industry;
b) to pursue opportunities in both domestic and international markets;
c) to enhance competitiveness and efficiency in the chicken industry; and
d) to work in the balanced interest of producers, industry stakeholders and consumers. 
One thing that is missing is "continuous improvement", but that is certainly implied by sustainable, optimize, enhance, and efficiency; all of which are in the Agreement.

A second thing is that the Agreement implies, but doesn't specifically state, that all signatory parties have a shared responsibility for acting in a diligent manner so as to achieve the agreed-upon Purpose and Objectives of the Agreement.  For example, we could have a problem if everybody agreed to what was supposed to occur, but everybody assumed that the others would do all or most of the work.

Section 2.01 requires that the Federal and Provincial Ministers recommend legislation so that the Agreement can be implemented.  There is a somewhat ambiguous requirement of these same Ministers to see that the Agreement is effectively implemented.

Section 2.04 requires the Federal and Provincial Ministers to delegate authority to the various Supervisory Boards and Marketing Boards so as to fully implement and maintain the Agreement.

It is unfortunate that this Agreement did not have these same Supervisory Boards and Marketing Boards agree to accept the delegated powers described in Section 2.04, and to apply their best efforts to implement those delegated responsibilities, and to achieve the Purposes and Objectives of this Agreement.

Section 2.05 comes close to assigning responsibility, but close isn't good enough to my way of thinking:
2.05 CFC, the Provincial Supervisory Boards, and
the Provincial Commodity Boards each agree,
within their own jurisdictions and pursuant to
delegated authority, to:
a) exercise or cooperate in the exercise of
legislative powers with respect to the
enactment of marketing plans, regulations
or orders; and
b) establish or cooperate in the establishment
of agreements and policies required to fully
implement and maintain this Agreement.

I see a world of difference between:
  • Agreeing to enact &/or establish marketing plans, regulations, orders, agreements, and policies (ie. "define the system"); and
  • Applying best efforts and necessary resources to "implement the system".
Unfortunately, the Agreement doesn't require all parties to do their very best to achieve the Agreement's Purposes and Objectives.

Since both CFC and CFO were signatories to this Agreement, I assume they know about all of the Agreement's Purposes and Objectives.

While the words are simple to write, implementing those same words on a consistent basis is much more difficult.  That is what Requirement #2 is all about.

Requirement #2: Necessary Resources

Since CFC is able to charge levies to all chicken farmers and all Provincial Marketing Boards, they have the ability to obtain the necessary funding.  With that funding, they can hire the necessary people, buy the office space, computers, books, and everything else they need so that they have the necessary resources (or can readily get them).  I therefore think that Item #2 can be met.

The same ability of ordering levies is available to Chicken Farmers of Ontario ("CFO"), and I assume the same for all the other Provincial Marketing Boards.

While they could do Item #2 if they wanted to do so, I don't know as of yet how well they actually implemented that part of their responsibilities.

Requirement #3: Measure Results

In Section 3.01 (c), each of the Provincial Commodity Boards are responsible for ensuring that their systems for quota allotment are auditable by CFC.

In Section 4.01 (b), CFC is made responsible for auditing all Provincial quota allocations.

I see a world of difference between auditing quota allocations, and the measuring of compliance to the entire Agreement by all the parties thereto.

Perhaps this is where the governments failed.  There is a lack of openness, accountability, and transparency.

Do you think us mere mortals might get to see the audit results if we ask really nicely for full disclosure?

Requirement #4: Corrective Action

If you don't know how well the Agreement is being implemented, how can you implement corrective actions for non-compliances or inefficiencies or continuous improvement?  You can't.

I guess none of the 33 signatories thought about this.  I wonder why? Most unfortunate.

Fixing the Problems

Under Section 9.01, changes to the Agreement require the unanimous agreement of all parties.  How easy is it going to be to achieve agreement on the comprehensive auditing on a periodic basis for the Agreement and the roles played by all signatory parties?

Maybe that's why this was left out of the Agreement.  Perhaps someone tried to add accountability, but one or more of the parties to the Agreement balked at openness and accountability.

Perhaps with the passing of 12 years, some additional maturity for the parties, and the dire needs felt by Canadians,perhaps now we can seek to fix these shortcomings in the Agreement.

We can only ask, and hope.

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