Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Petition on

In addition to the petition on this Blog (see posting Petition Partners), we now have a complementary petition on 

For all our supporters out there, please go sign the petition right now.  I'll wait right here until you get back from signing the petition.

[Play interlude music here]  

Great!  That wasn't  so bad.

Now, I ask you to send the link to this posting, or the petition at to everybody you know, even your family and in-laws, so they can sign too.  If you don't do it, nobody else will either.

If nobody signs the petition, we will never be taken seriously, and the status-quo will continue as-is, or get a lot worse,

Thanks for your support!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Canadian Cheap Chicken

Sobey's and Olymel have teamed up to bring the people of Ontario inexpensive, Canadian chicken.  My heartfelt congratulations and thanks to everybody at Sobey's, Olymel, and elsewhere who made this possible.
Cheap Chicken for Ontario at $4.34/kg ($1.97/lb)
is about the same as the everyday US price

As I was cruising the Foodland grocery store looking for bargains, I happened to spot the sign "Whole Chickens $1.97/lb."  Wow! Now there is a bargain.

This is the second time in two months that Foodland has run a similar sale on chicken (see Blog posting Affordable Chicken for Canada Day)

This price is close to, or the same as the every-day price of whole chickens in the North East United States (eg. Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, etc.).

Cheap chicken, or inexpensive chicken?  In other words, is this junk chicken?  The label says "Canada Grade A", but is that good enough?

On some quick investigating, I learned that these chickens being sold are Flamingo Brand, produced by Olymel LP.  The box label has CFIA Establishment # 39G, which is Olymel's St-Damase, QC abattoir.

Just because they were processed in Canada doesn't mean these chickens were Canadian born and raised.  A "Canada Grade A" can be awarded to a chicken of any nationality.

Wholesale chicken label, fresh "Flamingo" branded
Canada Grade "A" chicken from Olymel
Ms Sarah Stover, Communications Manager for Sobeys Ontario (owners of Foodland) informed me that these chickens are not "spent chickens", and they are raised on a Canadian farm and processed in a Canadian abattoir.

I bought one of these chickens for a quality taste test.  In my opinion, this on-sale chicken is of equal quality to the regular commercial, mega farm chicken that is typically offered in the grocery stores.

OK, typical commercial quality chicken it is.  Let's dig a little deeper.

The eviscerated weight is 1.262 kg (2.78 lbs.).  The live to eviscerated weight ratio is usually 0.68628 so we estimate the live weight to be 1.839 kg.

According to CFO's Form 101, that is a Category 5 bird, which earned the farmer $1.622/kg live weight in Quota Period A-124 (May 17, 2014 until July 12, 2014), according to CFO's Live Price Bulletion 1626.

Converting back to evicerated weights, we get the farmer's gross income as $2.363/kg of eviscerated chicken.

We therefore conclude, that a Canadian #ChickenMafia overall system markup (from farm gate to grocery store shelf) of 183.66% is still occurring at this "cheap chicken price".

I previously posted that the US wholesale to retail chicken price markups were at a rock solid constant of about 40.2% (see previous Blog posting Chicken Price Parity: Will it Ever Come?).   If we assume that the same wholesale to retail markup in the US is good for Canada too, then the chicken processors are taking a 31% markup for their abattoir services.

It is rumored that at the price of $4.34/kg., Sobey's is selling at about $0.25/kg below their costs.  If true, that puts their wholesale purchase price at $4.59/kg.  We know the farmers received at least $2.363/kg., so that is a processor markup of 194% gained by Olymel in this case; one of the largest pork and chicken processors in Canada.

If US retailers sell chicken day in, day out at $1.99/lb ( $4.378/kg) and wholesale to retail price markup is 40.2%, that puts the wholesale price of US chicken at $2.79/kg.  If Ontario farmers are getting $2.363/kg, that leaves $0.427/kg (equivalent to $0.539 per bird) to send it through the abattoir.

There is little justifiable reasons for an abattoir to charge by the kg., as their costs don't really change with the weight of the bird.  The fair way to charge is $ per bird processed.  Greed however, justifies many things.

If Canadian abattoirs ran at a 40% markup like in the US, the Canadian wholesale price would be $3.308/kg.  If Sobey's was to gain $0.25/kg for their shipping, handling, and overheads, then the retail sale price would be $3.558/kg.  This is still considerably cheaper than the typical prices Ontario shoppers are forced to pay.

ISO Polar estimated that the freight rates for 53 foot refrigerated trucks are about 10 to 15 percent more than non-refrigerated equipment because the carriers have to factor in the additional fuel consumption. A refrigeration unit consumes approximately one gallon of diesel per hour. A typical freight charge is about $0.082/tonne-km.  Assuming 500 km of refrigerated shipment for the chicken, that adds $0.041/kg to the price of the chicken.

Some interesting math.  In the end, we conclude that Sobey's and Olymel are doing Ontario consumers a favor with chicken selling at a price similar to US chicken.  Hopefully everybody will realize that it is in their best interest to continue on this path, and that others in and near the #ChickenMafia come to join them.

One day soon, perhaps it won't be for just a 3 day sale once a month that we deserve affordable chicken.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Empire Strikes Back

The revised Notice of Appeal was published on the 17th of July, 2014 (see Blog posting Appeal #2 Submitted).  The Empire struck back on the 21st, just 4 days later.

Mr. D. Vader, consulting attorney for Chicken Farmers of Ontario
The last time Chicken Farmers of Ontario ("CFO") complained about my appeal, they were successful in limiting my appeal to just CFO's Small Flock Regulation.

The Empire (a.k.a  #ChickenMafia) didn't want to discuss the rights and freedoms of small flockers, the affordability of chicken, the superbugs and other noxious substances on the chicken produced by the #ChickenMafia, nor anything else.

In CFO's letter to the Tribunal, Darth Vader Geoffrey Spur complained about the revised appeal, and about the evidence presented in support of raising the small flock exemption from 300 to 2,000 birds.

It isn't clear to me what CFO thinks would be a reasonable and acceptable appeal.  CFO seems to want the appeal to be limited to "Please raise the limit from 300 to 2,000", with no reasons in support of this request  to be offered.

While CFO took 4 days to respond, I burned the midnight oil and got a Small Flocker response to CFO's complaint out the next day.

It will be interesting to see the Tribunal's response to these renewed complaints by CFO.

I have two burning questions:

  1. When, if ever, do we get to the hearing of the appeal?
  2. Luke Skywalker was shocked when he found out the truth about Darth Vader, so should I start to worry too about "Who's your Daddy?"

Monday, July 21, 2014

Petition Partners

The appeal paperwork has been filed just before the deadline.  Next, we need Petition Partners to help our cause.

I have drafted up a petition to be delivered to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Appeals Tribunal, encouraging them to study the available evidence concerning the Small Flock Regulation of Chicken Farmers of Ontario ("CFO"), then have the courage to do what is in the best interest of Ontario.

Petition for Small Flockers Appeal, Rev. 1   
WE the undersigned petition the Tribunal as follows:

Carefully consider all applicable evidence, then improve CFO’s Small Flock Regulation so that:

1) CFO must first serve the greater good of the public, before serving the special interest goals of CFO and its members;

2) Small Flocker’s rights and freedoms are protected;

3) Adequate quota exemption is provided to small flock chicken farmers so they can be a viable alternative to the quota-based mega chicken factory system operated under CFO.

Also, the Tribunal is petitioned to recommend other improvements to Ontario’s Chicken Supply Management System.

That won't be easy for the Tribunal Panel to do.

They need encouragement to make a stand for the greater good, rather than the self-serving prior behaviours of Chicken Farmers of Ontario ("CFO") and the Chicken Mafia.

They need to be reminded that these issues are important to most people in Ontario, not just a lone nut with a Blog.

I had the bravery and empathy to start this issue off.  If I remain a "lone nut", then this issue will die with me, no matter how dedicated I may be.

Followers have an even more important role.  A follower changes a "lone nut" into a "Leader".  Here is a short 3 minute video that explains the concept of Leaders and Followers.

Dare to follow.

What I need are Followers, many Followers, who will download this Petition, print it off, sign it themselves, for it is extremely difficult for the first person to sign a blank Petition, then take it with them everywhere they go.  Explainto your family, friends, neighbours why you decided to be a Follower, and encourage them to follow too.

When you have a full Petition, mail it, scan and email it, or Fax it to me.  I will include it in the package that I send to the Tribunal.  Ten thousand signatures would be nice.  If every Follower did one Petition each, with 39 signatures per Petition, we need 256 Followers.

Will you be one of my Followers?  I need your help.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Appeal #2 Submitted

I finally finished drafting my Notice of Appeal #2, or more correctly, it finished me.  Now the ball is in the court of Chicken Farmers of Ontario, and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Appeals Tribunal.

The Tribunal said the only issue I was allowed to bring up was the small flock regulation.  Today, the average small flock in Ontario is just 57 birds.  That 57 birds will feed one family for a year.  Few small flockers bother growing for their neighbours anymore.  Too many regulations, and at 300 birds maximum, it isn't worth the effort to try and run it as a business for most sane people.

This appeal is about freedom for small flockers.  We want our freedom from CFO, but will settle for 2,000 birds per year limit.

Here are the files:

Notice of Appeal      98 pages, 816 kB, Adobe Acrobat X pdf

Affidavit of Glenn Black      5 pages, 592 kB, Adobe Acrobat X pdf

Notice of Constitutional Questions      6 pages, 26 kB, Adobe Acrobat X pdf

I had 60 days to re-draft all of this.  I invested the first bit of that time to decompress, assess if I was ready to try again, and get some personal stuff done that had been abandoned in favor of this project.

I had limited time, knowledge, and budget, so others may have been able to have done a better job, but I tried my best.  Now we have to wait to see what happens next.

Thanks to all of you that reviewed the previous drafts, and made suggestions to help.  I even received a few links for case law that were included in the final version.

Have a tall cold one on me.  I know I will!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Appeal #2, Version 15


This posting superseded  by the filing of the final version of the appeal.  See Appeal #2 Submitted

* * * * * *

We have just 7 days remaining before the filing deadline for our revised appeal.

Here is Version #15 of our revised Appeal.

Thank-you for your comments and suggestions on the first draft published previously (see Blog posting CFO Chicken Appeal #2 ).

If you have any additional suggestions, please get them to me ASAP, as the final version must be printed and sent soon.

Appeal #2, Version 15      76 pages, 685 kB, Adobe Acrobat X pdf

Friday, July 4, 2014

CFO Chicken Appeal #2

This posting is now obsolete and superceded by Version 15 of the Notice of Appeal.  See Appeal #2, Version 15

Original Posting is Below

It's finally done.  Here is a ROUGH draft of our chicken appeal, Round #2.

Please download a copy and give it a quick, and/or intense look.  It is far from perfect, but I am 2 days late getting this to you (by my internal schedule).  I would like to give all of you the next 5 days to submit any comments, questions, or suggestions that might improve it.

The biggest issue is "What am I missing?"

While you are reviewing it, I will be fixing up the remaining pieces.  Where the text says "XXX", I am missing that piece of info, and need to generate it quickly.

After I have your comments (on or before Tuesday July 8th, 2014 at 11:59 PM, I will take a week to put the finishing touches on it, print it and submit it.      48 pages, 333 kB.

Chicken: Gorilla or Guerrilla

There are battle lines forming between the Chicken Guerrillas and the Chicken Gorillas.  You'd better take cover before the battle starts.

I previously Blogged in March 2013 about the hidden Gorillas in Ontario chicken coops (see Blog posting Why are there Gorillas in Ontario Chicken Coops?).  Those are the super huge chicken factories in Ontario, likely owned, controlled, or aligned with the multi-billion agri-food corporations of the world.  I estimated that there are 142 gorillas in Ontario's chicken coops who hold 39% of Ontario's market share, and 69% of the HHI ( Herfindahl–Hirschman Index), a measure of the concentration of control, often used by governments to decide upon anti-trust breakups, or to stop mergers so as to protect consumers from monopolies, oligopolies, and unfair trade practices.

I had to look at the effect of Small Flockers getting relief from the choke hold of the #ChickenMafia, by gaining a 2,0000 bird/yr limit instead of the current 300 birds/yr we are currently limited to.  What impact would that change have on the competitiveness in the Ontario chicken marketplace?  Here's the answer.

Figure 1:   Market share %HHI scores for current situation (57 birds/yr for Small Flockers),
versus the proposed 2,000 birds/yr limit.  The quota-based chicken farmers are sub-divided
into 5 classes based on the size of their quota ownership.  The Small Flockers are added as
the 6th class.
Figure 1 shows the market share %HHI scores for the current situation (57 birds/yr for Small Flockers),
versus the proposed 2,000 birds/yr limit.  The quota-based chicken farmers are sub-divided
into 5 classes based on the size of their quota ownership.  The Small Flockers are added as
the 6th class.  Producing just 57 birds/yr, the Small Flockers are shown to have virtually no impact (ie. 0.01% HHI, the blue curve in Figure 1) on the chicken market in Ontario; exactly what the #ChickenMafia wants.

If you raised all Small Flockers to the current legal maximum of 300 birds/yr, it goes from 0.01% HHI to 0.25% HHI; virtually the same effect:   NONE!

If Small Flockers are allowed up to 2,000 birds per year, then the Small Flocker market impact climbs to a whopping 10.17% HHI (ie. the red coloured curve in Figure 1).  At 2,000 birds/yr, Small Flockers start to have some meaningful impact in the Ontario chicken markets, about the same as the first 5 classes of the quota-based chicken farmers.  Of course, the market share of the 142 gorillas in the Ontario chicken coup drops from 63.84% HHI to 57.34% HHI; an 11.3% drop.  They're still gorillas, and still completely control the Ontario chicken industry, but their power has been slightly reduced.

The 142 chicken coop gorillas are just 14.02% of all quota-based chicken farmers in Ontario, or 0.88% of all chicken farmers when we include Small Flockers.  However, never doubt that these 142 gorillas control the entire chicken industry in Ontario, including the Ontario Chapter of the #ChickenMafia.  I suggest that these gorillas use their power and influence to control the whole system to their personal advantage; feather-bedding their own nest by improper use of the sacred trust powers that were delegated to them by the Ontario and Federal governments.

When these governments were designing the Supply Management system, why didn't they include sufficient checks and balances to protect the public, and all the other chicken farmers, from the birth of these gorillas in Ontario chicken coops?

I suggest it's a good thing for the citizens of Ontario to reduce the strength of these 142 gorillas.  I suggest its good for the 76% of quota-based chicken farmers to put those gorillas into a cage so they can no longer boss around the majority of the quota-based chicken farmers.

I suggest that CFO be given a Directive, from either OFPMC (Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission), or the new Ontario Minister of Agriculture Jeff Leal that the concentration of market power by the gorillas, as measures by % HHI or some other similar basis, be systematically reduced by limitation on ownership of quota.  For example, when new quota is being given out, everybody by the gorillas should get some.  A new Regulation is needed to prevent another chicken farmer from becoming the next gorilla by accumulating additional quota in the marketplace.

Will the government act to allow Small Flockers to become a "wild card" in the chicken marketplace?  Will they take the necessary steps to cage the gorillas running loose in Ontario's chicken coops?

Only time will tell.

Attacking a gorilla head-on risks life and limb.  Fortunately, a Canadian, Bert "Yank" Levy (1897 – 1965) tells us how to train as a guerrilla, and be effective at limiting or removing these oppressive invaders from within our midst.  Bert wrote the book on Guerilla Warfare

, and has appeared on the cover of LIFE Magazine (see pages 40 - 45 for his story).

If the government is unwilling or unable to protect the public from these gorillas in Ontario chicken coop, does the public need to learn and apply Bert's methods as Chicken Guerrillas?