Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Black loses appeal

Glenn Black, president of Small Flockers of Canada, has lost his appeal to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal Tribunal.

The tribunal has, however, invited him to file another appeal on a narrower basis – only the issue of increasing the exemption from quota for chicken producers from the current 300 to 2,000 per year.

Black filed an appeal that challenged the entire supply management system, arguing that the tribunal ought to prescribe reforms to “get it back on track”.

The Chicken Farmers of Ontario marketing board argued at a tribunal hearing last week that the appeal ought to be a class-action lawsuit filed in the courts and that many of the issues Black raised are beyond the authority of the tribunal.

Black countered that the tribunal could be brave, lay out what it thinks supply management ought to look like and then let the courts and the public decide if appeals are filed in the courts or politicians take action in the legislature.

Black argued that about 18,000 small-flock chicken producers could do a better job of serving local markets, niche markets and people with lower incomes, all without taking any more than 10 per cent of the market that is now reserved for about 1,400 Ontario farmers who hold marketing board quota.

Some provinces have higher volumes they allow people without quota to produce – eg. up to 999 birds per year in Saskatchewan. 

Alberta has programs to offer quota leases for organic chicken production and for direct marketing ventures. It also allows communities to grow up to 6,000 chickens per year without quota, possibly a concession intended for Hutterite Colonies.

Black said he has not yet decided whether to file another appeal over the 300-birds-per-year limit.