Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Old McDonald had a Farm

Old McDonald had a Farm.  Not any more. Yes, that's past tense.  That was long ago.  Old McDonald doesn't have that farm any more.  That idyllic, pastoral view of farming is long gone.  Factory farms and quarterly profits for corporations are the reality of today.

Unfortunately, the concept of farming held by most Canadians hasn't changed very much from what they learned at the age of 3 years from the following video and similar simplistic farming propaganda.

That's exactly how the #ChickenMafia wants to keep it, too.  This simplistic view of farming ensures:
  • Happy citizens who stay asleep, and don't ask questions
  • #ChickenMafia aren't bothered by the public and their "silly" questions and expectations;
  • #ChickenMafia can maximize their profit extraction from the citizen's wallets.
Perhaps Canadians are ready for something closer to reality.  In the alternative, small flock poultry farming, for the most part, already meets the public's perceptions and expectations.  Perhaps that is a vote in favor of small flock poultry farming by most Canadians.  Once Canadian are allowed to know the truth about the adulteration and wrong-headed sneaky actions of the #ChickenMafia, they will no longer support factory farming. 

With Canada's growing population, we would expect that the total number of chickens raised in Canada would be increasing over the years.  The census data collected by Statistics Canada and reported in CANSIM Table 004-0004 presenting census data from 1921 to 2011 confirms this perception.

The census data is collected every 5 years, and prior to 1951, only a subset of today's data was collected by StatsCan.  This necessitated our interpolation and projection of the StatsCan data, which was done by SFPFC's hard working statistician (me).
Figure 1

Figure 1 shows that the total number of chickens raised on Canadian farms has been increasing at 1.157% per year, which doubles and re-doubles the number of chickens every 60.5 years.  We now have 288 times more chickens grown in Canada, as compared to 1921.  As of 2011. there are 3.5 chickens for every man, woman, and child in Canada.  We're outnumbered.

Figure 2
Figure 2 shows that the number of farms that raise chickens has been dropping like a stone; decreasing 5.34% per year since 1921, which will cause a halfing and re-halfing of the number of chicken farms every 13.1 years. As of 2011, Canada has just 1.06% of the number of chicken farms that existed in 1921.

This means that 98.94% of Canada's chicken farms have disappeared since 1921; forced out of business by today's #ChickenMafia and its predecessors.

As of 2011, there are only 20,645 farms remaining in Canada that raise chickens.  Of those, there are about 2,700 that are members of the #ChickenMafia; those who own Supply Management quota for chicken.

There are government programs to protect threatened wildlife from extinction.  Why not have similar programs for the threatened extinction of the remaining 1.06% of small flock poultry farmers who are still operating today? 

To claim status as a "farm", you need at least $7,000per year as farm income.  There are people who raise chickens in their suburb backyard.  We estimate there are a total of at least 35,000 small flocks in Canada; possibly more.

Figure 3

Figure 3 shows the average number of chickens per farms that raised chickens.  As can be seen here, the chicken farms have been getting bigger and bigger since 1921, increasing at 6.85% per year, which doubles and re-doubles the average farm's bird population every 10.2 years.

This means that the chicken farms of today have 30,619 times more chickens on the average chicken farm as compared to 1921 farms.  In the previous Blog posting Why are there Gorillas in Ontario's Chicken Coops? I showed how Chicken Farmers of Ontario ("CFO") tried to hide that the largest chicken farms have quota units estimated to be 196,500 which means that about 196,500 birds are on the largest Ontario chicken farm at any point in the year.  That is 9,338 times the number of chickens on the average chicken farm of 1921.

Therefore the largest Ontario chicken farm has an intensification and concentration of the environmental loading, pollution, and impacts that are 9,338 times greater today than the small flock farms of 1921.  No wonder we have the environmental problems that we do today (eg. landfills overflowing with chicken manure, contaminated ground water & drinking water wells, manure run-off into ditches & streams, algae blooms, and dead or dying lakes from excess nitrogen and/or phosphorous which causes oxygen depletion and dead fish).

Other data has shown that the statistical distribution of farm size is quite wide and diverse. This means that there are a huge number of farms that keep just a few chickens, plus there are a few farms that keep 200,000 birds. A median value would be more enlightening, but this median data isn't available.

The impact of average vs. median statistics might be explained by a typical Tim Horton's coffee shop.  On a typical day, the median and average income of the customers in a Tim Horton's will be pretty much the same number.  If the billionaire Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, walks in the front door of that Tim Horton's, and we were to re-calculate the median and average incomes, we would find that the median value had hardly changed, but the average income level had dramatically increased due to one person entering the Tim Horton's.  That's why median values are often better, more representative of diverse populations.

What does all this mean?  It means that the family chicken farm that used to be near your community has disappeared.  As Blogged previously (Buried Alive in Chicken Manure), the animal waste from chicken farms has been concentrated and intensified to the point of:
  • Overwhelming the poultry farm workers with significant health and safety risks from excess exposure to ammonia, hydrogen sulphide and other toxic gases, dust, residues from antibiotics and other drugs fed to the chickens, and other issues.
  • Overwhelming the farm's ability to cope with the inputs, nutrient management issues, waste disposal, vermin and other pests, shipments, road wear and spreading contamination from farm traffic, and other issues;
  • Overwhelming the local and regional environment with the soil, air, and water pollution that occurs.
  • Loss of local jobs, economic spin-offs, and prosperity
  • Loss of locally produced, affordable, safe, sustainable, environmentally friendly food production
What would Canada be like if all government jobs only existed in Ottawa, and that is where all decisions were made?  How well do you think you'd be served by that type of government?  There were specific reasons that the Federal Government has done de-centralization of the civil service.

Of course, all or most of these problems can be avoided, or are far easier to manage, or mitigate with small flock poultry farming.

Perhaps the #ChickenMafia needs to loosen the reins, or somebody takes the reins away from them for mis-management and bad faith.

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