Friday, February 27, 2015

Backyard Poultry

Followup question on yesterday's posting Fantastic Financial Future via Pastured Poultry Profits Project ("PPPP")

I have been questioned as to why 2,000 birds, and how big of a farm do they need.

To raise 2,000 bird per year, with fresh grass under the bird's feet every day as pastured poultry, will require a grass pasture (or lawn), of just 81 ft. x 81 ft. (ie. 0.15 acres).

Just about anybody, anywhere, can grow 2,000 birds per year, producing 2,731 kg of eviscerated chicken each year, which would provide an annual chicken supply for 74 people at the Canadian average of 37 kg of chicken per person per year.

Is this why CFO won't raise the quota limit for Small Flockers?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Fantastic Financial Future via Pastured Poultry Profits Project ("PPPP")

There is a fantastic financial future for Small Flocker's through PPPP (Pastured Poultry Profits Project).

In yesterday's Blog posting (see Pastured Poultry Profits ), I outlined how Small Flocker's can adopt a perfect pastured poultry process.

OK, OK, enough on the alliteration.

Figure 1:   Small Flocker's PPPP with input
pricing similar to CFO's chicken factories
Today, we'll look at what will soon be possible through Small Flockers getting the same or similar pricing that the millionaire chicken factories enjoy.

Figure 1 shows the pro forma financial budget for Small Flocker's PPPP (Pastured Poultry Profit Project).  Right click on the image, choose "View Image", then click to magnify to full size.  Alternatively, you can view an Acrobat pdf version document here

This PPPP budget assumes:
  • Farmers raise all of their birds in one flock, minimizing catch and transport fees (Line 7).
  • Small Flockers in Ontario are allowed to raise 2,000 birds (as compared to the 300 birds/yr limit), see Line 18.
  • FCR (Feed Conversion Ratio) is 30% better than CFO's chicken factories, justified by a cleaner environment that allows birds a better utilization of the feed, and the grass and bugs they can eat as reducing the feed needed (Line 25).
What results is that Small Flockers earn a 30.31% higher profit margin than the millionaire chicken factory farmers (see Line 34).

Also, the retail customers of Small Flockers' PPPP chicken enjoy prices 11.79% below the current retail prices from the Chicken Mafia and their chicken factories and their retail partners (see Line 44).

This means local prosperity for the Small Flocker farmer and their community, and chicken that is more affordable for Ontario's consumers.

As described previously, this financial analysis covers only the direct variable costs, assuming the necessary capital infrastructure already exists, is fully paid for and fully depreciated, and PPPP is only an expansion of an existing chicken business. That may not be true in all cases.  For a more comprehensive financial analysis without these simplifying assumptions, see here and here.

I'm accepting the names of Small Flockers who are interested in finding out more about PPPP.  I have already joined SFPFC's PPPP, and hope you will join me.  There is strength when we work together to achieve this important project.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Pastured Poultry Profits

Pastured poultry produces a better chicken.  Small Flockers can use these methods to provide safe, nutritious, affordable, and locally grown meat and eggs for their family and community.

Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms and others have shown us the way to the future.  I have read Joel's book Pastured Poultry Profit$, listened to Joel speak at the recent seminar sponsored by Practical Farmers of Ontario, and spoke to him personally afterwards.  I believe in what he is doing.  I plan to implement Joel's system this Spring, and recommend  other Small Flockers to come join me.  Rather than keeping his success as a secret, Joel openly shares to all.

I will also share, for all members of SFPFC.
Figure 1:   PPPP (Pastured Poultry Profit Project) Base Case
based on severe restrictions currently imposed upon Small Flockers

Figure 1 above shows an Excel spreadsheet on the PPPP (Pastured Poultry Profit Project).  Right click on the image, choose "View Image", then click to magnify to full size.  Alternatively, you can download a pdf version here.

The yellow coloured cells are the ones that contain assumptions or user input that may need to be changed for different Small Flockers or situations.

As can be seen in these numbers, Small Flockers have significant price disadvantages compared to the chicken factories operated under CFO's Supply Management monopoly.

For example, I bought chicken feed yesterday at $18.00 per 25 kg. bag, or $720.00 per tonne.  CFO says the market price for chicken factories to buy feed is just $379.075 per tonne, a 47% discount compared to Small Flockers.  Same goes for chick prices, abattoir processing, and many other important costs, both fixed and variable.  Add to that the bureaucracy and restrictions imposed only on Small Flockers by CFO (eg. Small Flockers are not permitted to do marketing or advertising, etc.), and you have a nightmare.

Fortunately, we have a Dream Catcher that will ensnare those evil spirits and nightmares, providing Small Flockers peaceful sleep and purposeful lives.  That solution is PPPP (Pastured Poultry Profits Project).

This pro forma cost calculation showing that Small Flockers can still compete because we are local, our neighbours like us, and we produce better tasting, more nutritious birds at a fair price.

Our analysis shows that Small Flockers can sell their birds at $8.04/kg ( $17.69 per pound).  For a 2 kg live chicken (1.37 kg. eviscerated), it would cost $11.01 retail, sold from the Small Flocker's farm gate.

The Dec. 2014 retail price of chicken in Ontario for whole, fresh chicken according to StatsCan is $7.43/kg. so Small Flockers are at a 48% premium price, even with all of the current disadvantages or oppressive restrictions by CFO.

For me and my family, we'd vote for the better, locally produced chicken at just a 48% premium.

Perhaps that's what CFO and the Chicken Mafia are worried about.

Note that the above financial analysis covers only the direct variable costs, assuming the necessary capital infrastructure already exists, is fully paid for and fully depreciated, and PPPP is only an expansion of an existing chicken business. That may not be true in all cases.  For a more comprehensive financial analysis without these simplifying assumptions, see here and here.

Tomorrow, we'll look at the potentially better PPPP Small Flocker price for chicken if we get some of the current restrictions and competitive disadvantages removed.

For now, I'm collecting names of Small Flockers who tentatively want to raise their hand as being interested in working co-operatively to make PPPP a reality.  No firm commitment is required at this time, just that you're interested in learning more.  Put a comments below, publicly declaring your interest, or send me a private message to

Monday, February 23, 2015

Using Chicken to Rape the Ontario Consumer

Has CFO crossed the line into unacceptable behaviour again?  OFPMC is supposed to supervise the actions of CFO and others.  Has OFPMC encouraged CFO's bad behaviour, or turned a blind eye towards it?

In a previous post (see Chicken Pricing: From Bad to Worse), I pointed out the consequences of the latest "improvement" in regulations issued by Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission ("OFPMC").

Today, I sent CFO and OFPMC an email asking for the missing information, and for them to explain their actions.

It escapes me how anybody could call the new system for setting the live farm gate chicken prices in Ontario to be an "improvement" over the previous system.  Today, we have more complexity, less transparency, and more opportunity for arbitrary action.

Agri007 picked up my original Blog posting, and added some interesting detail on the added complexity and bureaucratic bafflegab.

As to the arbitrariness, note in Section 18.(2) of ON Regulation 402 (as amended by O. Reg 6/15),  which says:
"CP means the live chick price for sexed mixed chicks established by the Ontario Broiler Hatching Egg and Chick Commission for each quota period, expressed in dollars per kilogram of live chicken, and adjusted as necessary by the negotiating agency each quota period" [emphasis added by me]

Under Section 17 of this Regulation, CFO and their "friend" AOCP (Association Ontario Chicken Processors, the multi-millionaire Big Food owners of the major chicken slaughtering plants and distribution systems) both sit on the "negotiating agency". 

The same arbitrary latitude is given to the Chicken Mafia (ie. CFO, AOCP, and all their henchmen) for the "FP" (Feed Price) factor that is the prime factor that controls live farm gate pricing of chicken.

Exactly how and why should the Chicken Mafia "adjust" the CP and FP?

What limits exist for adjusting?  Is +/- 1% or +/- 300% adjustment OK, or somewhere in between?

Does the Chicken Mafia have to tell anybody when they have been privately fiddling with the numbers?

Does the public (or other interested parties such as Small Flockers or Affordable Food Advocates) get an alert when the Chicken Mafia has been playing fast and loose with the farm gate prices?

Are there improper reasons for the Chicken Mafia to adjust these price fixing factors?

It is obvious to me that it's the public, the end consumer and purchaser of the chicken, who ultimately pays the bills for anything that the "negotiating agency" decides.

Am I the only one on this planet who understands the sad yet shocking truth?  CFO and AOCP are not adversaries, they are in cahoots with each other.  There can be no "fair bargain" when both CFO and AOCP work together to screw the Ontario consumer.  Both CFO and AOCP realize that if they mutually co-operate with each other, their profits will be maximized; all paid for by the Ontario consumer.  When CFO and AOCP co-operate with each other, the price of chicken in Ontario rises faster and the choice available to consumers diminishes.

The analogy that applies to ON Regulation 402 and its "negotiating agency" is as follows:
The Mafia Don has instructed two of his henchmen to negotiate the agreed split of the loot that they will rob from every house and business in town.  After very tough negotiations, the robbers decided amongst themselves to split the loot 60-40, a fair split the robbers decide, as it recognizes the greater skill and years of experience by the lead robber.  Shaking hands on their deal, the two robbers then set out to burglarize every building in town and split the proceeds 60-40 as they have privately agreed.  The Mafia Don is happy because his cut of the loot is maximized.  The robbers are both happy because they each have help with all the heavy lifting they must do as they rob everybody in town, and one can be the lookout for the other, ensuring the authorities never interfere.  Unfortunately, the innocent townspeople are preyed upon to the maximum, because the thieves have organized themselves and rob in an efficient manner with no in-fighting.

Why doesn't OFPMC understand that they have guaranteed maximum damage and oppression to the Ontario consumers of chicken by their crazy regulation?

Will somebody stop OFPMC, CFO, and AOCP from their dysfunctional system and the systemic abuse of the Ontario public?

At the top of this Blog page, SFPFC says, "...Small Flockers are on the side of justice & truth, and against privilege & power."

SFPFC can't do it alone.  Will somebody help stop this organized raping of the Ontario public? 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Social Justice through Chicken and Eggs?

The United Church of Canada, like many other organized religions, have been involved in social justice issues for many decades, if not throughout their entire existence.  Could there be a shared focus between these church groups and SFPFC's issues and expertise?

The United Church is multifaceted on its areas of focus for outreach, mission & service, and social justice.  Some of those initiatives have been in Canada, as well as around the world.  Some of the issues, both past and current, for the United Church have been:
  • Nutritious Food,
  • Affordability of food,
  • Food Bank dependency
  • Small farm & family farm focus,
  • Concentration of ownership & control of our food system
  •  Local food
The details on these UCC initiatives can be reviewed here:
  Is there sufficient alignment between UCC and SFPFC to make it worthwhile for both organizations to work co-operatively for the greater good of Canadians?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Chicken Pricing: From Bad to Worse

Ontario's farm gate price of live chicken dropped for the last two Quota Periods.  To what do we owe this honour?

Will those savings slowly work their way through the non-competitive Supply Management system and their cronies, eventually arriving at the retail meat counters as more affordable chicken for Ontario consumers?
Figure 1:  CFO's Live Chicken Farm Gate Price, as compared to price of
farm Input Costs (day old chicks and chicken feed)

Don't hold your breath.

Figure 1 at right shows Chicken Farmers of Ontario ("CFO's") data for the cost of live chickens at Ontario farm gates (using left vertical axis), as well as the price of Farm Inputs (500 day-old chicks, and a tonne of chicken feed; both input costs are using the right hand vertical axis).  I used 500 chicks and a tonne of feed so that the cost of feed and chicks was the same price magnitude and could all be graphed together on same graph.

What can we learn?

The price of chicken has dropped by 0.13% on an annual basis during 2014.  Was any of that decrease caused or contributed to by improvements made by Ontario's chicken farmers?

Most businesses and governments are expected to improve on a continuous basis.  Why not CFO and the Chicken Mafia?

Chicken farmers are guaranteed a "reasonable return" on their efforts and investment.  In exchange for that guarantee to chicken farmers, why can't we ask and expect them to continuously improve, just like we expect from everybody else?

Not just any kind of improvements, we want the most important kind of improvements.  We want important improvements that reduce the retail cost of chicken for the people of Ontario.  An improvement of just 0.13%/yr is a trifling, a rounding error.  I doubt it was caused at all, as it could just as well have been an increase.

There is no plan to improve at CFO, in spite of what they may say.

CFO doesn't understand, and even worse, they don't even care.

Farm gate prices are primarily affected by chicken feed prices, and to a much less degree by the chick prices.  I assume the chick prices go up as feed prices do, as the parents of the chicks must be fed chicken feed too.

Therefore there is a compounded effect for rising prices of feed, directly and indirectly through chick prices.

There is another issue that we need to discuss.

Figure 2:  CFO's old system of price fixing
Here is an image of CFO's previous system for announcing live chicken prices, and the basis of the price setting, in Figure 2.

In the old system, we received CFO's idea of the market prices of chicks and feed, the profit margins earned by the chicken farmers, and the resulting farm gate chicken price.  In other words, data rich and verifiable by everybody.

Next, we look at CFO's new system, as shown in Figure 3.

Ontario Farm Product Marketing Commission ("OFPMC") says:

"Chicken Farmers of Ontario (CFO) and the Association of Ontario Chicken Processors (AOCP), initiated the work in 2012, and have invested considerable time and resources over the last couple of years to develop a comprehensive COPF.

The Commission carefully considered the final submissions of the AOCP and CFO, as well as the comments received through the government's Regulatory Registry website in determining the final makeup of the COPF.

The full COPF is described in the regulation in a transparent fashion and includes provisions for the regular updating of the individual elements to ensure the formula remains current and reflects a reasonable return to efficient producers.
The Commission recognises this is a significant milestone in the ongoing evolution of the supply managed system for chicken and will continue to work closely with the CFO and AOCP during the transition to this new COPF."
Sounds pretty good, eh?  You can count on that.  Everything politicians do is always described with rainbows and sunshine.  Let's now look at the reality that occurred the very first time CFO applied the new regulation.

What OFPMC is describing above, and what CFO is supposed to be doing is fully described in Ontario Regulation 402, R.R.O. 1990, CHICKENS — MARKETING, issued under the Farm Products Marketing Act.    Figure 3 below shows CFO's public disclosure of their first implementation of Section 18 of this new Ontario Regulation. 

Figure 3:   CFO's new system

As shown in Figure 3 (the "new improved system"), CFO plunks down a new farm gate price for Ontario chicken.  For all we know, CFO's farm gate price was derived by throwing darts at the wall.

This regulatory method in Section 18 is extremely difficult to comprehend and verify

Who can verify this "improved system" and the number it produces?


How can this new system be seen as an improvement is beyond me.  How is the new system more open, accountable, transparent, and beneficial for all?   Even though CFO is a private enterprise (ie. a lobbyist for monopolistic chicken farmers and their friends), CFO is an action arm of the Ontario government for chicken Supply Management.  As an arm of the government, they have a duty to be open, transparent, and accountable to the people of Ontario.

Look at what we get stuck with by the CFO and the Chicken Mafia (ie. CFO, AOCP, and all their chicken farmers, henchmen, coattail riders, and lobbyists).

It is a disgrace.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Hidden & Stacked Meetings are not Fair to Ontario Stakeholders

Do Small Flockers and advocates for affordable &/or locally produced food need & deserve a fair process for their issues before OMAFRA, OFPMC, CFO, AOCP, and other Stakeholders?

I previously posted about how all of Northern Ontario was left out in the cold on this consultation, but this was corrected at the last minute after bitter complaints by a handful of Northern Ontario advocate farmers (see Blog posting Distractions or Consultations by CFO? ).

Some stakeholders that attended one of CFO's meetings on quota allocation were very pleased with the openness exhibited by CFO and other Supply Management ("SM") supporters.

However, they were concerned with the relatively poor turnout by Small Flockers, food advocates, and other non-SM stakeholders.  Was this a non-issue to these other stakeholders, or was there a reason for the low attendance?

It is suggested that the majority of Small Flockers do not read the agriculture Blogs, magazines, and Internet sites on a daily basis.

Secondly, CFO may have published about the meetings on their website (see ), but Small Flockers and food advocates don't scan CFO's website on a daily basis either.

CFO has a database of all 15,500 Small Flockers in Ontario, but as far as I know, CFO didn't lift a finger to notify any of them by that method.  I know, because I am listed in that database, but I never received notice from CFO.  It was only by a phone call from Max Burt that I learned about these meetings before they were all over & done with.

CFO didn't bother issuing a press release that I can find on CFO's website.  None of the farm papers, farm magazines, or Agriculture Internet websites had any advance warning on this important consultation issue that I have been able to find.

There is a short article on Better Farming website dated Jan. 12th, 2015, saying the CFO's consultation process was wrapping up, almost complete.  At that point, 9 of the scheduled meetings had already concluded.

Ontario's Farm Product Marketing Commission ("OFPMC", the government body that is supposed to supervise and approve CFO's actions) does have a short info posting of unknown date (see  ) that refers the reader to CFO's website on these consultation meetings.  Again, few to no Small Flockers or food advocates regularly read OFPMC's website.

Similarly, OMAFRA's website has a small mention under What's New that refers to the consultations and  CFO's website.   It's as if everybody wants to do the least possible, but needs some token mention in case somebody complains, thereby avoiding the obvious bias.

These actions are similar to the often used technique of politicians releasing a damaging report late Friday before a long weekend.  Only the most diligent reporter or politician in the opposition is there, watching to bring this slight of hard by the mandarins of power to the public's attention.

However, it seems CFO, AOCP, and the other Supply Management Overlords notified all of their supporters and cronies, notifying them fully, early, and repeatedly, so as to maximize their attendance, then likely beat the bushes to ensure they showed up at the meeting.

Above and beyond immediate stakeholders, don't everyday consumers get a voice?  On their website, CFO notes meetings held on Jan. 19th and 27th that were open to the public (as opposed to special interest groups for all the other meetings).  Who notified the public, and how was fair notice provided for these meetings?  Why wasn't there CFO and/or OFPMC and/or OMAFRA press releases to the Globe & Mail, National Post, and every major daily paper throughout Ontario?  If free notice wasn't provided to the public by the major papers as news, shouldn't CFO have purchased reasonably sized ad space?  How fair is that, to inadvertently or purposefully hide the meetings from consumers?

Would the Chicken Mafia Overlords go so far as offering free quota or other enticements to any SM supporters who showed up at the meetings and behaved themselves by fully supporting and vocalizing the Chicken Mafia's well rehearsed propaganda soundbites?

When CFO is looking for feedback, is it a fair process to use every available means to stack the meetings?

Maybe CFO really isn't looking for feedback.  Maybe CFO is trying to save themselves from the wind of change that is blowing SM up onto a rocky shore.

I hear (from reliable sources whom I believe) that both CFO and OFPMC are under severe pressure from OMAFRA to be more open, transparent, accountable, and responsive to consumer's demand for diversified quality and specifications in Ontario's chicken supply, and especially local food sources for Ontario chicken (ie. Small Flockers).

While CFO is being pressured, they appear to be using every trick in the book to avoid, distract, stonewall, resist, and sabotage the voice of Ontario's consumers who want change in their Supply Management systems.

This is going to get interesting, really soon.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

CFO's Antimicrobial Training

Improper use of antimicrobials in the feed and/or water of chicken factory farms has caused or contributed to the growing of SuperBugs on and/or in the chickens, putting the farm workers, downstream workers at slaughter plants, and retail consumers at significant risk.

After decades of delay, Chicken Farmers of Ontario ("CFO") now requires all quota-based chicken producers to be trained on the use of antimicrobials on or before May 15, 2015.

Is that requirement sufficient and effective?

Section 1.02 (i) of CFO Regulation 202-2014 (On Farm Food Safety Assurance and Animal Care Policy) passed under Ontario's Farm Products Marketing Act says:
"Producers must participate in antimicrobial use training by May 15, 2015."
Figure 1:  Part of the program at Poultry Industry
Council session in Jordan ON on Feb. 11, 2015.
Poultry Industry Council ("PIC") is putting on three training sessions, part of which provides a 1 hr. long training sessions which is said to qualify as completing that mandatory training on antimicrobial use.

As you may have guessed, I have a few questions:
  1. Has CFO verified and approved PIC's claim that their course meets all necessary requirements for this training?
  2. Can sufficient comprehension be achieved in 1 hr. or less?
  3. Does this training come complete with a comprehension test for trainees at the conclusion of the training?  If not, how do we know that the training was effective?
  4. Did the Instructors attend and successfully pass a "Train the Trainer" course on this training topic?  If not, how was it determined that they are capable of training others in this course material?
  5. What competent person reviewed the credentials and approved the instructors as competent in the course material, as well as competent as Instructors?
  6. What competent person reviewed and approved the course curriculum to ensure it was adequate for the intended purposes?
  7. If there are no answers to these important questions, what are we to conclude to the purpose and effectiveness of  CFO's Regulation?
Answers to these questions are typically required for mandatory training courses in many or most industries throughout the world.  For example, the international standard ISO 9001 for Quality Management certification would make these answers mandatory.  Should we expect the same from CFO and PIC?

A link to this posting has been sent to both CFO and PIC, seeking their feedback to these important questions.

Please hold your breath while we await their answers.  I trust they will both be back to us immediately with their full, transparent, open, and honest disclosure.   ;-)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Rearranging the Titanic's Deck Chairs

Why has Chicken Farmers of Ontario ("CFO"), the Association of Chicken Processors ("AOCP"), and Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission ("OFPMC") formed TeamOntario and the Chicken Industry Advisory Committee?

Agri007 correctly noticed that Ontario Independent Poultry Processors ("OIPP") is missing from this group.   I also wonder why, especially after CFO says on their website:
"CFO, Association of Chicken Processors and Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission are jointly committed to working with and encouraging participation by the broadest possible range of relevant stakeholders who have an interest in or who may be affected by decisions resulting from the consultation exercise."
At least CFO held a meeting for input from OIPP on Jan. 26th in Burlington ON.  Is it because OIPP wasn't sufficiently malleable to CFO's iron will and nefarious strategy?  Was there a significant danger of OIPP exposing CFO's plans to manipulate, distract, and control the issues via propaganda in CFO's favor?

What best describes CFO's actions:
  • Re-arranging the Titanic's deckchairs?
  • Propaganda issued by Compliance Professionals
  • Red Herring to manipulate and distract
Rearranging the Titanic's deckchairs has become a common expression or idiom defined as:
"to do something pointless or insignificant that will soon be overtaken by events, or that contributes nothing to the solution of a current problem."
CFO has been spending bundles of money lately on media consultants.  The next step up from media consultants are "Compliance Professionals".  A compliance professional is defined as:
"an expert that utilizes and perfects means of gaining media influence. Though the means of gaining influence are common, their aims vary from political, economic, to personal. Thus the label of compliance professional applies to diverse groups of people, including propagandists, marketers, pollsters, salespeople and political advocates."
A red herring is defined as:
"something that misleads or distracts from the relevant or important issue "
Noam Chomsky has written about the Top 10 Media Manipulation Strategies.  Do any of those apply to CFO and their actions in this case?

Regardless of CFO's intentions, Small Flockers have assumed the best, that CFO has honorable intentions.  Therefore, SFPFC has responded with fair comments to improve the Supply Management system in Ontario and Canada.

After attending one of CFO's meetings in Northern Ontario, the following summary was sent to Bryan Boyle, CFO's "Compliance Professional", aka "Meeting Facilitator".  All of the comments made here are based upon SFPFC's research, fully described in SFPFC's Blog postings made here over the last 2 years.  Our comments on CFO and their Chicken Supply Management System are as follows:

SFPFC's Comments

Small Flock Poultry Farmers of Canada has the following additional input as followup to our comments made during the Gore Bay ON session on Feb. 10, 2015 that our representative attended:
  1. Products manufactured by both manufacturing and agriculture have similar GDP size and impact, contributory margins, value added, and spin-off effects for the Ontario economy; some of the best available from all sectors of the economy.

  2. Unfortunately, Canadian manufacturing has been on decline for more than two decades, has been significantly wounded, and will need years or decades of convalescence to recover its former strength and capacity.  That leaves agriculture at the best available economic driver for the Ontario economy in the short and medium term.  What is good for agriculture is good for Ontario.

  3. Throughout North America, we have excessive carbohydrates in our diet, causing or contributing to numerous, simultaneous epidemics, such as obesity, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Metabolic Disease, fatty non-alcoholic liver disease, high blood pressure, high blood lipids, cancer, Alzheimer's Disease, etc.  It is estimated that 75% of all disease are caused or contributed to by poor nutrition and/or poor diets.

  4. The health care budget consumes 42% of Ontario's budget.  By 2045, diabetes alone is projected to consume the entire health care budget (ie. no money left to fix broken bone, birth babies, car accidents, etc.).

  5. Animals that are raised whole-life as pastured animals have meat and eggs with ideal ratios of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats, while CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) based meats have significantly worse ratios.  Based on the latest research, animal protein and fats of pastured animals is now seen by leading nutritionists and health researchers as a significant part of the solution to some or most of the above epidemics.

  6. Large automated chicken processing lines generally produce retail chickens which 30% to 80% are significantly contaminated with deadly food-borne pathogens (salmonella, listeria, campylobacter, Heidelburg, E.coli, etc.).  Of those pathogens, half are Super-bugs, with 1 or more drug resistances.

  7. OMAFRA experts have previously stated that CAFO-based chicken operations must have and use antibiotics for disease prevention.  Most or all small flock chicken growers do not use, and have no need for prophylactic antibiotics, thereby avoiding or minimizing the creation of Super-bugs.

  8. On-farm, small scale chicken slaughter has been found to consistently produce chickens with 1/10 the level of contamination of the automated slaughter factories.

  9. Ontario's 1,400 commercial chicken producers under Supply Management are almost exclusively focused in CAFO-based technologies and systems, and exclusively use automated slaughter factories.  This is a deadly combination, putting consumers at significant risk.

  10. Ontario's 15,000 small flock chicken producer are primarily focused on free range and/or pastured poultry, and can use manual slaughter systems, with significant advantage for product quality for consumers.

  11. Feed Conversion Ratio ("FCR") is the major determining factor for farm gate pricing of a meat food product.

  12. Chicken, with a FCR as low as 1.38 (New Zealand commercial chicken farmers), or 1.72 in Canada, has one of the lowest FCR's for any animal protein or fat production.  Some farmed fish claim an FCR as low as 1.2 but this accounts only for the fish farm, not the entire supply chain life cycle (ie. there are significant input losses to the preparation of fish feed pellets, and when these are accounted for, the overall FCR is usually calculated as greater than 1.75 for farmed fish).

  13. Therefore food produced from pastured chickens are an important solution for the health of the Ontario public, and the affordability of nutritious dietary fat and protein.

  14. By continuing to invest in CAFO-based chicken, Ontario and quota-based farmers risk significant mal-investment, delay the conversion to more healthy and affordable chicken production techniques, and face a write-down or write-off at significant financial loss of this obsolete technologies and systems.

  15. By allocating more and more quota, whether by direct ownership or leasing, to CAFO-based operations will expose Ontario to long term risks and costs that will not be easily undone, and delay the launching of subsequent better solutions without compensating those who were allowed or enticed to invest in these antiquated systems.

  16. Of the OECD nations, Canada has just 1.4% market share of the chicken export market.

  17. Canada is unable to export chicken in any appreciable degree due to the potential for accusation of unfair or illegal trade practices (ie. government subsidies or dumping).

  18. CAFO-based operations likely have significant advantages for large export contracts at the lowest available prices, requiring CFIA-inspected processing.  Small flockers and regionally distributed chicken producers, if allowed more than 300 birds per year can produce as farm gate producers with prices close to those of CAFO-based retail pricing, and are likely better suited to locally produced chicken with minimal transportation of feeds and finished products through use of OMAFRA-inspected local abattoirs.

  19. The above facts support a dramatic re-alignment and rationalization of Ontario's chicken market, sooner rather than later.

  20. For TeamOntario to focus on the narrow issue of distributing the annual incremental increases in Ontario's chicken allocation is to ignore these facts and to chronically subject Ontario citizens to the adverse consequences.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Distractions or Consultations by CFO?

Am I too cynical, jaded, and suspicious?

Chicken Farmers of Ontario ("CFO") and their Chicken Industry Advisory Committee, prodded by Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission are holding consultation meetings from chicken farmers and all other interested parties, seeking input, feedback, and advice on how to best position the chicken industry for growth in a controlled market (ie. Supply Management).

Team Ontario (a disguise worn by CFO, see says:
The Ontario chicken industry is well positioned to grow over the next few years as a result of both market fundamentals as well as the resolution of a national differential growth solution which will bring additional production to Ontario. This growth in the Ontario chicken industry will not only stimulate broad economic benefits for the province, it will positively contribute to the Government of Ontario’s stated objective of creating an additional 120,000 new jobs in the food and agricultural sector by 2020.
Growth in both established and emerging chicken markets presents a real opportunity for the industry to review existing mechanisms of allocating growth, assess the current system and provide the basis for exploring new ways to administer growth to both producers and processors.
The Consultation Process: 
CFO, Association of Chicken Processors and Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission are jointly committed to working with and encouraging participation by the broadest possible range of relevant stakeholders who have an interest in or who may be affected by decisions resulting from the consultation exercise.
Some Northern Ontario chicken farmers noted that there were no consultations meetings in Northern Ontario.  It would seem that CFO feels there is no need to consult everybody, as Northern Ontario only represents more than 50% of Ontario's land mass, and 10% of its population.  Apparently, we still don't qualify as part of Ontario.  Northern Ontario has been disenfranchised for decades.

Max Burt and 7 other chicken farmers weren't satisfied with that approach, so they loaded up their vehicles and headed South to the meeting in Guelph.  In that Guelph meeting, there were 3 chicken farmers from the Guelph area, and 8 from Northern Ontario.  Max and his gang of Northern chicken farmers made it very plain about their dissatisfaction with the ignoring of half the Province.

CBC News notes that on Jan. 27, 2015, twenty farmers and food organizations in Northern Ontario sent a letter to OFPMC and CFO, requesting meetings in Northern Ontario.

Shortly after that, a 17th consultation meeting was scheduled for Northern Ontario.

On Feb. 7th, Nourishing Ontario's website posted about the last minute addition of the Northern Ontario meetings on Feb. 10th, grace of Sustain Ontario's Flocking Option Campaign.

A tip of the hat to Max and his merry band of Northern Ontario chicken farmers for protecting our interests.

The live meeting was held in Gore Bay with 5 participants with Brian Boyle (an ex-OMAFRA facilitator) and Murray Opsteen (a CFO Board Member), and Brad Stephenson (Technical Support).  In addition, there were Internet-based satellite conferences tied in from Bruce Mines (6 more people), Dryden (10), Geraldton (6), Rainey River (10), Temiskaming (?), Thunder Bay (10), and Verner-Sudbury (9), for a grand total of more than 55 participants.

Since University of Guelph is the heart of all things agriculture in Ontario (University of Guelph, OMAFRA's offices, research stations, etc.) you'd think they could collect more than 3 participants.  Yet in Northern Ontario, we collected more than 55 participants, 37 times more than the Guelph meeting.

It seems everybody was impressed (or should I say shocked) at the interest shown by Northern Ontario.

Was this just another propaganda facade to placate the masses, with the input guaranteed to be ignored?  Did they really want to hear what non-quota farmers (ie. small flock chicken farmers and others) thought?

Only time will tell.  While the comments were recorded, they may be doomed to gathering dust in some filing cabinet for the next century.  There is some slim possibility that they may be forwarded to the true decision makers, and used to shape Ontario's new policies.  At this point, it's hard to know for sure.  We will patiently wait and watch.

The consumption of chicken in Ontario is growing significantly, more than 4% in just the last year.  How is it best to respond to that market growth and the fair allocation of supply and demand amongst all the players?

Just because there are more that 10 times the number of small flock farmers in Ontario (as compared to the quota-bearing chicken factory operators), doesn't mean that Small Flockers will get their fair share.

Today, Small Flockers can only grow 300 birds per year, just enough to supply the annual chicken consumption for 9 people.  Due to the bureaucracy and red tape, and the uneconomic constraints imposed on Small Flockers, most Small Flockers grow 57 birds per year or less; just enough to feed their immediate family.

Some of the points made by Northern Ontario participants:
  • Supply Management is ineffective.
  • Major changes in the quota system and small flocker exemptions are needed; or removal of the quota system altogether.
  • We need safe, locally produced, affordable chicken that responds to the local needs and customers
  • Chicken factories are the source of the majority of disease outbreaks and resistant bacteria due to dysfunctional farming practices
  • First Nations need an opportunity to participate
  • Affordable chicken is a major issue, and getting worse every day
  • Abattoirs that are reasonably proximate to chicken farmers are needed.  Portable abattoirs are one possible solution.
At the meeting, a handout listed 6 Objectives for allocating growth was circulated:
  1. Evolve the allocation systems of both farmers and processors to improve the flexibility and responsiveness in capitalizing on growth opportunities in the chicken marketplace.
  2. Create value by serving the needs of growing and emerging markets.
  3. Encourage innovation, new business-building ideas.
  4. Serve the needs of existing markets, taking into consideration their size, importance, and historical investment.
  5. Develop a system that is predictable and stable that aligns the interests of key stakeholders in the chicken industry
  6. Encourage quality, efficiency, and value creation.
I note that CFO tries to focus attention on dividing the spoils of future growth of Ontario's chicken market.  Is this the equivalent of distracting people to focus on the selection of new upholstery fabrics for the deck chairs on the Titanic, rather than watching out for iceburgs?  What is the root issue that CFO wants to avoid?

We await the tallying and reporting on the input received from the grass roots participants.