Monday, December 31, 2012

CFIA doesn’t test organics with its logo

Mischa Popoff, a research associate at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy and co-author of Canada’s Organic Nightmare, says there’s an organic certifying body in Canada that did no checking to ensure compliance.

He says the certifier, which he does not name, licenced producers as far away as Mexico and China without ever visiting to check their integrity.
Mischa Popoff

And he says the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which accepts certification by a number of bodies, was shocked when it did its own checking.

“When staff at the CFIA finally carried out some secret tests on organic products, they were so taken aback by the results that they actually tried to suppress them,” Dr. Doug Powell reports on his internet service for subscribers.

“A recent in-depth report on the Canadian organic sector published by The Frontier Centre points out that there is no systematic, empirical proof that food certified as organic is purer, tastier or more nutritious,” he writes.

“The politicized privilege to be deemed ‘certified-organic’ in Canada is available to anyone, whether here in Canada or anywhere in the world.

“To qualify, just pay fees and fill out paperwork, even if you’re in China, Mexico or Argentina.

“The honesty of the applicants is not verified.”

Popoff says it would cost 10 times less to test foods that claim to be organically-produced than ‘relying exclusively on paperwork, (but) Canada’s for-profit organic certifiers benefit from highly-lucrative revenues which, in turn, provide donations to activist organic groups which may explain their opposition to testing in spite of support for the idea from rank-and-file Canadian organic farmers.”

In addition to upfront application and inspection fees, organic farmers and processors operating under CFIA rules are forced to pay royalties to their private certifiers between one and three per cent on their gross revenue from each and every transaction, Popoff says.

“It is akin to the franchise fees that fast-food restaurant owners pay to their head offices, with the difference that Canadian organic farmers and processors are paying for the use of the CFIA’s logo on their finished products, not the private certifier’s.

“And yet, the CFIA requires no testing. None,” he says.

The independent inspectors make pre-announced visits once a year to each farm and facility, but they don’t do any testing. “They only fill out paperwork,” Popoff says.

“In addition to organic foods, you’ll also be hit with the idea of bringing in the New Year with certified-organic booze.

“Such claim could not possibly get any more absurd.

“None of the alleged mystical attributes of organic barley or grapes even has a chance of surviving the fermentation and distillation processes.

“So save your money,” says Popoff.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Inexplicable increases in Grade A eggs in Ontario

I will be most interested in hearing how L.H. Gray and Son Ltd. and Burnbrae Farms explain a five per cent increase in Grade A eggs when they started using new automatic grading machines.

Whistleblower Norman Bourdeau has filed an affidavit in court in Toronto which includes a chart with the egg-grading data for Ontario and Canada from 1997 to 2011.

And he writes "on review of the Ontario data between 2001 and 2002 there was more than a five per cent increase in Grade As.

"This time period was consistent with grading stations introducing changes in technology (which has now been 10 years) to detect cracks and dirts which allowed machine setting to include under-grades automatically in Canada Grade A.

"This practice could increase the risk of exposure to salmonella and other pathogens (as indicated by Health Canada).

"As the chart (from the Egg Farmers of Canada website) indicates Canada Grade A is consistently less in other provinces, it is also interesting to note that Ontario does not separate Nest Run and the Nest Run grades are usually estimated; as well, Jumbos are not reported as a separate grade."

Bourdeau notes that information the Egg Farmers of Ontario marketing board filed with its regulator, the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission, does not report volumes for Grade B or Nest Run eggs.

However, the Egg Farmers of Canada website indicates that the Egg Farmers of Ontario "as of week 39, 2012, had categories for Bs, Cs and Other," Bourdeau writes.

"The only reasonable conclusion that can be drawn is that Ontario Canada Grade A includes eggs that are not Canada Grade A."

Gray persistently denies any wrongdoing.

As interesting as this may be to the court proceedings Sweda Farms Ltd. has filed against the egg board, Gray and Burnbrae, it should be of far greater interest to the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission.

Egg farmers are paid more for Grade A eggs than undergrades, so there appears to be a consumer ripoff taking place. 

Moreover, the egg board is funded by levies it collects from farmers, but only on Grade A eggs. It appears its revenues have been inflated by five per cent for the last 10 years.

And then there's the huge issue of food safety, an issue that ought to be of great concern to the commission and farmers. 

If there is an outbreak of food poisoning that results in high-profile media coverage of the allegations Bourdeau is making in this affidavit, consumer confidence in eggs could be badly shaken and sales could plunge.

So far the egg board's lawyer, Geoffrey Spurr, has sought to condemn Bourdeau as a thief.

The board would be well advised to take Bourdeau's allegations and information seriously. At the very least, it should become proactive about food safety and take steps to ensure that there are no cracks and dirts in Grade A cartons.

It's not acceptable now to simply rely on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to enforce egg-grading standards because it seems to have an inexplicable degree of tolerance for undergrades being marketed as Grade A eggs in Ontario.

And if Bourdeau's allegations and data are wrong, the egg board at least owes the public and its members a full explanation of how it has arrived at that opinion.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Schnurr loses appeal

Guelph – Mark Schnurr has lost his appeal to the tribunal to be able to move quota 2.5 kilometres from one property he owns to his home farm.

The chicken board refused the transfer because it’s less than the board’s 14,000 minimum. The quota Schnurr wants to move is 7,200 units.

It's an example of bureaucratic arrogance that punishes the very type of person marketing boards were established to protect.

Schnurr testified at a public hearing before the Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal Tribunal that it would cost an extra $60,000 to expand his main barn on a property about 2.5 kilometres from his home because it’s close to an environmentally-sensitive area.

Instead he built a 10,000-square-foot barn near his home and wants to move the 7,200 units of quota into the new barn.

The chicken board argued that would be an exemption to its 14,000 minimum for quota transfers and might entice others to ask for similar exemptions. The tribunal agreed.

However, the tribunal’s notes from the hearing say the board’s definition of “premises” is general enough that it’s possible the board could deal with the two barns as one premises housing a total of about 23,000 basic units of quota.

Don't hold your breath waiting for the chicken board to do the right thing. 

These are, after all, the same people who negotiated a deal to prevent cross-border trade with Quebec and who refuse to supply CAMI International Poultry Inc. because it has been too darn successful developing new markets for chicken.

Bit by bit, the Ontario chicken board is making a solid case for politicians to take away supply management.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

Food processors called laggards

The Conference Board of Canada says the food industry “has become an innovation laggard and does not appear to be very concerned about it.”

“Canada’s food processors are not increasing –in fact, they are barely maintaining – global market share in the face of competition from established and new players,” the board says in a new report.

“Most Canadian firms in the food industry don’t think innovation is a priority,” says the board.

The combination of low investment in research and low priority on innovation explain why Canada’s share of global food and drink exports declined from 4.2 per cent in 2000 to 3.2 per cent in 2010, says the Conference Board. The share increased to 3.9 per cent last year.

Brazil’s share nearly tripled and China’s share almost doubled and now they each hold 6.3 per cent.
The Conference Board’s recommendations are that:

-      -  Food processors should innovate to create new products for emerging and fast-growing markets.

-       - Small and medium-sized companies should innovate for niche markets to increase their profits. “Innovation is as much a survival strategy as a growth strategy.”

-      - Supermarket chains should use the data they collect in their loyalty programs to ensure that their product innovations meet consumer demands.

-     -  Retailers and food processors should improve their working relationships, clarifying retailers’ expectations about product volumes, shelf fees, food quality and food safety, because that would reduce product-innovation waste.

-      - Governments should promote more competition and export market access. “More innovation could be stimulated by transitioning sheltered subsectors to fair but competitive environments,” says the report. -It may have in mind the supply-managed dairy and poultry sectors.

-       - The Food and Drugs Act needs to be overhauled “to accelerate innovation in healthy food and food safety.”

-       - Government funding for food research and innovation “should be better aligned with innovators’ financial needs. Currently many firms with genuine financial need are failing to access public research and development funds for innovation. Savings could be redirected . . . (to) the primary agriculture sub-sector where innovation returns on public research and development have historically been strong.”
Y(The new five-year federal-provincial Growing Forward program for farmers puts a higher priority on innovation.)

-      -  “Incent more food innovation with social value. Governments should adjust regulation and use financial incentives to support and stimulate healthier and more environmentally-sustainable food innovation.”

Friday, December 21, 2012

Meatingplace highlights Canada-U.S. differences

Meatingplace magazine delved into the record-breaking recall of beef by XL Foods Inc. and highlights differences between government approaches in the United States and Canada.

It says XL was hard hit because of “rolling recalls” that added more products and retail outlets on a daily basis as the recalling began in late September and  that "amount(ed) to repeated punches in the public boxing ring."

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service tends to wait and then make one recall, Meatingplace found.

It does not discuss the implications for food safety from waiting.

It also found that Canadian meat that goes to U.S. markets gets more random-sample testing than meat marketed inside Canada.

But the additional testing does not improve food safety, according to Brent Cator, president and chief executive officer of Cardinal Meats of Brampton. If that were the case, then meat destined for the Canadian market ought to be subjected to an equal amount of random sampling and testing.

“The answer is prevention at farm and harvested interventions that lead to carcass pasteurization,” Cator said.

He noted that further processors, such as his company, want carcass pasteurization.

That standard remains elusive. Irradiation is often mentioned as a way to achieve it, but it doesn’t work as well as many believe, Meatingplace says.

Ironically, Cardinal Meats was involved in its own beef recall less than a month after XL Foods finally got back into production. The source of the pathogenic  bacteria has not yet been identified and/or revealed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Another big difference between the U.S. and Canada is the extra power the CFIA holds to force and supervise a recall, says Meatingplace.

It also raised questions about destroying so much of the recalled beef and the CFIA requirement that beef that was cooked undergo another round of sampling and testing for E. coli 0157:H7.

Meatingplace indicates that was overkill because high-temperature, long-term cooking is well known to kill harmful bacteria.

It reports that XL ended up dumping one million pounds of beef into a landfill, and rendering or cooking 12 million pounds. It recalled 2.5 million pounds from the United States.

Canadian news reports indicate the first time E. coli was identified in XL beef products was at the border where U.S. inspectors took a sample. Meatingplace says that on the same day – Sept. 4 – the Canadian Food Inspection Agency found E. coli 0157:H7 on meat in the packing plant.

Canadian news reports indicated the CFIA confirmation of E. coli contamination came days, if not more than a week, later.

While XL turned over operations to JBS to get back into production, Meatingplace notes that JBS had its own food-safety challenges. In 2010 it had a high-volume recall of beef from its plant at Greeley, Colorado. JBS has an option to buy XL for $100 million, an option Meatingplace expects JBS to exercise.

“The reality is that 
E. coli can and will 
get through, 
no matter who is in charge."

“The reality is that E. coli can and will get through, no matter who is in charge,” says the magazine.

“As such, industry is left to make the best of a risky business while trying to make products as safe as possible with the available technologies.”

In another article in the magazine, it says some retailers are spraying antibacterial agents in the tray packs for retail marketing before they put the meat cuts into the packs for sealing.

It’s not clear how that practice squares with consumer concerns about the use of antibiotics on farms.

HSUS pressures Royal Caribbean Cruise line

The Humane Society of the United States and persuaded Royal Canadian Cruise company to join the companies who are telling pork suppliers they will soon refuse to buy if any of the sows involved were held in gestation crates.

Royal owns Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Pullmantur, Azamara Club Cruises and CDF Croisières de France, as well as TUI Cruises through a 50 percent joint venture.

Last year it had more than 20 million clients on cruises with 41 ships.

It seems to me that Royal Caribbean is showing more concerns for sows than cruise-ship staff. Then again, it's probably not concerned about the sows, but about what HSUS might do to its image.

Bourdeau files another motion

Toronto – Court records here indicate that whistleblower Norman Bourdeau has filed a response to the motion made by lawyers for L.H. Gray & Son Ltd. to seal all of the court documents related to the Sweda Farms lawsuit against Gray, Burnbrae and the Ontario egg marketing board.

Bourdeau says that sealing the documents would hamper an inquiry he and lawyer Donald Good are seeking from the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission.

Bourdeau wants to file documents that indicate cheating on egg grading. That cheating has a direct bearing on revenues collected by the Egg Farmers of Ontario marketing board which is under the direct supervision of the commission.

But Bourdeau points out in his court document that the commission advised him in a Nov. 21 letter that anything filed with it could be released under a Freedom-of-Information request.

That would mean that no documents under a court sealing order could be submitted to the commission.

Bourdeau says the net effect “will suppress important evidence supporting allegations raised with the Commission for investigating the conduct of Egg Farmers of Ontario.”

Gray’s lawyers have already obtained a sealing order on court documents filed before the summer, but that order does not extend to documents filed since then, including a new motion from Sweda Farms (represented by Good) to consolidate its separate lawsuits against Gray, Burnbrae and the egg board into a single lawsuit accusing them of conspiracy to drive Sweda out of the egg-grading business.

Bourdeau’s court motion reveals that the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission is considering the requests for an inquiry, but set a deadline of Nov. 30 for them to submit documents to back their allegations.

Bourdeau filed his original request for a commission inquiry on Dec. 22, 2010, and Good, acting on behalf of Verified Eggs Canada, filed later.

Bourdeau notes in the court filing that the egg board relies on grading reports from egg-grading stations to collect levies and says “there is evidence to support the allegation that at least five to seven per cent under-grade eggs (including Grade C and dirts) are intentionally graded into the Canada Grade A.”

The egg board charges no levy on eggs that are not Canada Grade A. Based on annual levies of more than $70 million and five per cent undergrades paying levies, Bourdeau estimates the egg board is collecting an extra $1.8 million a year.

Egg farmers also benefit by receiving a higher price for the undergrades that are passed as Canada Grade A eggs.

Bourdeau also cites Canadian Food Inspection Agency egg-detention orders to bolster his allegation that the data the egg-grading stations provide the marketing board are flawed.

Bourdeau says the automated grading machines at L.H. Gray and Son Ltd. are “intentionally set to allow 6.6 per cent under-grades (four eggs in 60) into all graded product before QC (quality control) can consider re-grading or fail a small portion of the lot.)

Bourdeau was head of information technology for Gray and has electronic records to substantiate his claim.

Bourdeau says the egg marketing board accepts a “tolerance” based on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, but Bourdeau says the CFIA tolerances are only for “when eggs are inspected at a place other than where they were graded or packed”.

Bourdeau says “there is (sic) NO tolerances at the candling table of the Grading Machine when the carton is closed and labeled Canada Grade A”.

Bourdeau cites egg board documents to indicate it has the authority to “search egg grading stations for evidence of violations of the rules or “inspection of egg grading facilities”. If EFO (Egg Farmers of Ontario) has this authority, it should be exercised.”

Harry Pelissero
The egg board used to inspect egg-grading stations when Brian Ellsworth was the general manager. That ended when Harry Pelissero took over.

Bourdeau also says Gray chooses producers each week to participate under the egg board’s “nest run” program and says “these eggs are almost always of poor quality and in violation of the Nest Run Grade Regulations.”

He said the incidence of cracks and dirts can run as high as 25 to 30 per cent and also accuses Gray of “padding” the nest-run eggs with eggs that its retail customers return or eggs that are culled out during grading of “table-market” eggs. The board pays full price for nest-run eggs out of the national “Industrial Product Fund”.

Farmers’ levies are used to generate that fund which is supposed to underwrite losses on removing surplus eggs from the Canadian market and diverting them to egg-processing plants.

Gray and Burnbrae also own egg-processing plants in addition to their control over about 90 per cent of Ontario’s egg grading and ownership of the largest egg-farming businesses.

Bourdeau also outlines why the marketing of cracks as Canada Grade A eggs poses a threat to consumer health and notes that there is a specific federal regulation banning the retail sale of Grade C (i.e. cracked) eggs.

Another federal regulation says “no person shall pack, mark or label eggs in a manner intended to deceive a purchaser into believing that the eggs have been graded under the Federal Regulation”.
Gray, Burnbrae and the egg board have, in their court filings, denied any and all allegations of wrongdoing.

The allegations and denials have yet to be tested in court.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

CBC spots salmonella tolerances for feed

The CBC has made a big splash about discovering the Canadian Food Inspection Agency allows tolerances for salmonella contamination of livestock and poultry feeds.

It’s reporting estimates that about 10 per cent of feed samples tested by the CFIA show some degree of salmonella bacteria contamination.

This is just the tip of a very big iceberg.

If the CBC digs further, it will find that the CFIA has secret tolerances for all kinds of defects and flaws, including some that put the public at risk of food poisoning.

In the case of salmonella in feed, the CBC interviewed Dr. Rick Holley of the University of Manitoba who said he thinks salmonella in livestock and poultry manure goes on fields and comes back into the human food supply on vegetables, fruits and nuts.

Of course, it could also be circulating from contaminated feed to animals and birds, then back to fields where more livestock and poultry feed is produced.

It seems to me that these risks will be higher for organically-produced crops because commercial fertilizers are banned, so there is a higher degree of dependence on manures for soil fertility, and because chemical sanitizers are banned from in-barn use.

But let’s take a look at just a few other CFIA tolerances.

For fertilizers, there’s been a generous tolerance based on total blended value. That means the fertilizer farmers are buying could be way out of specification for nitrogen, or for phosphorous, or for potash, just so long as the blended “value,” measured by price, is within the tolerance.

Even with that large degree of tolerance, the fertilizer industry’s track record has been abysmal; sometimes half of the retailers have flunked.

However, not to worry. Beginning April 1, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency will stop enforcing any standard other than outright fraud cases brought to its attention by customers who file a complaint. 

With, of course, the necessary test results and other documentation.

Given the track record under the old system, those complaints are likely to be as rare as a frosty noonday in July, or hen’s teeth.

For eggs, it seems from examining CFIA inspection reports that up to five per cent is the tolerance level for Grade A. 

That includes eggs that are cracked, dirty or fail to fall within the size specifications.

And that’s the tolerance level that’s supposed to apply at random samples taken from point-of-sale retail shelves.

In practice, the CFIA applies the standard at grading stations which means that a lot of Grade A eggs in supermarkets may be worse than even this secret tolerance level allows.

Adding to the risks with eggs is another tolerance for the temperature of water for washing eggs. It’s critical to get it hot enough to kill harmful bacteria, but it’s often not. Again, the evidence is in the CFIA records.

I have stacks of them here in my office, ones I obtained by filing Access-to-Information requests.

And the really damaging details have been censored out. Why? I guess to protect those guilty of allowing flawed eggs to masquerate as Grade A.

But a few details escaped censorship, enough to establish that the CFIA inspectors cleared lots with five per cent or less cracks, dirts or size problems to be marketed as Grade A. More than that and they ordered the eggs "detained" for another round of grading to cull out enough bad ones to meet the tolerances.

Consider, now, the risks arising from a combination of wash water that’s not hot enough to kill harmful bacteria and eggs that are cracked so the bacteria can get inside.

Maybe that’s where some of the average of 6,700 cases per year of salmonella food poisonings arise. Those are Public Health of Canada records, and everybody in the food-safety and public health system knows reported cases are only a small fraction of the total number of people who suffer food poisoning.

So let’s take another case – apples.

You can go online to the CFIA website and learn that the tolerance level for “grade defects” is 10 per cent.

Add another five per cent for apples that are smaller than the minimum size required, plus five per cent for apples that are too large.

If the grade is Canada Extra Fancy, the tolerance is cut in half to five per cent in a lot of “fairly well formed” apples. Kind of subjective, that, eh?

Moving on to apples for processing, up to five per cent with “bitter pit” are tolerated for Canada No. 1 Peelers. It’s seven per cent for Canada No. 2 Peelers. And the same five and seven per cent tolerances apply for “other grade defects."

Are these tolerances a risk for food safety. I guess so, if you consider that up to two per cent of fresh apples with “decay” are to be tolerated.

I can understand that it’s difficult to achieve perfection.

I can understand that, for example, there are tolerances for dead insects in breakfast cereals and flour.

What I cannot understand, though, is how the CFIA can establish and apply secret tolerances.

Does the industry and the CFIA think Canadians wouldn’t care if they knew?

I don’t think so. I think they know consumers would raise a ruckus, and I think that’s why there’s been so much secrecy about the tolerances.

And so much censorship of inspection reports.

Feds to carry Ontario appeal to WTO

The federal government has agreed to an Ontario request to pursue an appeal of the World Trade Organization ruling that Ontario’s green-energy program breaks Canada’s commitment to abide by world trade rules.

The issue is an Ontario requirement that any green-energy project that involves contracting electricity sales to the province needs to be built from components with at least 25 per cent made-in-Ontario content.

Japan and the European Union filed the appeal and the WTO released its 160-page decision this week, but announced earlier that the Ontario program has been deemed illegal.

Ontario officials won on one point: the WTO ruled that the Ontario program is not a subsidy to domestic manufacturers.

When the Canadian government files an appeal, it’s possible that Japan and the European Union will also file an appeal insisting that the Ontario program does indeed amount to a subsidy.

This is the first time the federal government has faced an adverse WTO ruling that is entirely a provincial matter.

I say the Liberal Party of Ontario ought to be billed for the legal and consulting bills involved in this appeal. Premier Dalton McGuinty was warned repeatedly that his policy would lead to WTO appeals that he would lose, but he refused to listen.

Salmonella’s in livestock, poultry feed

About 13 per cent of the livestock and poultry feed checked by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is contaminated with Salmonella bacteria, even though the CFIA has a standard of zero tolerance.

The CBC in Manitoba is reporting on the situation, citing Prof. Rick Holley of the University of Manitoba who tested 12 samples the CBC picked up and found Salmonella in two, a rate of 17 per cent.

Holley said this is a high risk for food poisoning of people, including from fruit, vegetables and nuts grown on fields where manure has been spread.

The CBC notes that the Public Health Agency of Canada reports that an average of about 6,700 cases of Salmonella food poisoning show up every year.

Paul Mayers, the CFIA’s vice-president of policy and programs, said the agency takes a risk-based approach.

"If you have the situation where you have [an animal] that's not susceptible to salmonella infection, and you have a very low-risk feed, then the corrective action that's employed may be different than in a [high-risk] situation," he told the CBC.

Mayers said among the most severe corrective actions include product destruction and mandatory CFIA-issued recalls.

He would not indicate what the least severe responses would be, but he said a "corrective action is always required."

Mayers also declined to give examples of when the CFIA has issued mandatory recalls for salmonella in animal feed.

But one Manitoba feed producer told the CBC the CFIA is only concerned with six of the more than 2,500 strains of salmonella, and it lets the feed enter the market normally if it doesn't detect one of those six strains.

Melissa Dumont, director of technical services for the Animal Nutrition Association of Canada, said she’s not convinced there is the link that Prof. Holley raised and said Salmonella is “everywhere in the environment” and therefore not surprising some shows up in animal feeds.

“I can only speak of the science that I've seen, and right now the link (to human illnesses) is not evident, if there at all, at this point in time," she said.

Judge blasts Pioneer

A federal judge says DuPont Pioneer engaged in fraud in its defense against a patent infringement lawsuit by rival Monsanto, the Des Moines Register reports this week.
A federal court jury in St. Louis in August awarded Monsanto $1 billion in damages from DuPont Pioneer.
The jury cited Pioneer’s unauthorized stacking in soybeans of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready genetic seed technology with its own seed traits.
Pioneer’s parent, DuPont, plans to appeal the verdict and maintains it has told the truth.
The judge’s ruling and the verdict are part of what Judge Richard Webber called a “vitriolic” legal battle over patent infringement.
The two companies control about two-thirds of the North American corn and soybean seed business.
Webber, in preliminary rulings written a year ago but unsealed only recently, said e-mails from DuPont Pioneer executives showed that the company knew as early as 2002 that it could not combine, or “stack,” Pioneer biotechnology traits with Monsanto’s Roundup Ready genetic trait.
Pioneer had stacked the traits in a new line of soybean seeds it originally intended to introduce in 2010.
In its defense, DuPont Pioneer wanted to assert that it always believed that its licensing agreement with Monsanto for Roundup Ready genetic traits would allow it to mix the Monsanto trait with its own traits.
But Webber said that e-mails from Pioneer executives introduced as evidence by Monsanto showed “clear and convincing evidence that Defendants (DuPont Pioneer) intentionally have made misrepresentations to the court and in doing so, have perpetrated a fraud against the court.”
“Such conduct is an abuse of the judicial process and is sanctionable,” Webber said.

The judge said DuPont Pioneer should be liable for Monsanto’s legal fees in the case

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Processors rule chicken

The winter newsletter from Chicken Farmers of Ontario makes it clear that the board and staff have relinquished supply management to the big processing companies which dominate the Association of Ontario Chicken Processors.

In the past the board at least made a charade of exercising control over how much chicken is produced in Ontario. In practice, it was always the processors who drove their decision on volumes.

That's why Ontario has always been short of chicken, why the small and aggressive processors resorted to buying chickens from Quebec producers and why further processors imported chicken from other provinces, at times from as far away as Newfoundland.

The chicken board says in its newsletter that when it  became aggressive about setting production higher, supplies backed up at wholesale, prices declined and the processors were able to pressure farm-level prices down.

The chicken board says it's better to keep things steady, and claims that's when sales increase.

This is, of course, pure balderdash.

The chicken that backs up at wholesale is the least desirable products from the least desirable processors at the least desirable times. And probably from those who offer the worst customer service.

But by listening to them, the board ensures that even their chicken gets sold at profitable prices.

And everybody else, supplying the most desirable products at the most desirable times with the best service can't get enough.

And the board wants us to believe that strategy increases sales over the long haul?

With reasoning like that, who needs these guys in charge of supply management?

And how, pray tell, does the Ontario government, via the Ontario Farm Products Marketing  Commission, justify this approach to the wellbeing of the Ontario economy?

And how do they justify their refusal to supply Ontario chicken to one of the most innovative and competitive companies, CAMI International Poultry Inc. of Welland. They're being asked to answer that one in court.

And here I was, almost ready to believe Premier Dalton McGuinty and Agriculture Minister Ted McMeekin when they said they want innovation and oompetitiveness to drive the Ontario economy.

Balderdash and double balderdash!