SAINT-FRANÇOIS-DE-MADAWASKA, NB, Feb. 24 /CNW/ - The Alward government
has rejected a proposed solution that would stabilize New Brunswick's
dysfunctional poultry supply management system. The government's lack
of action represents continued mismanagement and abdication of its
legislative responsibility, says Nadeau Poultry General Manager Yves
Landry. The government's refusal to implement a solution, he says, has
resulted in the loss of over 160 jobs, and economic devastation in the
small community of Saint-François-de-Madawaska, where Nadeau Poultry
has been a major employer for more than 50 years.
Landry says that previous New Brunswick governments have turned a blind
eye as limits were removed on the amount of the province's chicken
production quota that could be held by any single producer.
Historically, a producer was restricted from controlling more than ten
per cent of the product. Groupe Westco, says Landry, has built a
production cartel that today controls almost 80 per cent of the
commodity, a level of control unprecedented in Canada.
"We urged the government to take action and implement any number of
possible stabilizing solutions. Without a remedy, it was clear that the
province's poultry supply management system would no longer function.
If the spirit and intent of the legislation were monitored and
regulated as it is in other provinces in Canada, the current situation
would never have occurred," says Landry.
Since September 2009, Groupe Westco has diverted the chickens it now
controls to its partner Olymel in Quebec for processing. "After
ignoring the issue while it was happening, the government now continues
to sidestep it and refuses to intervene, says Landry. "By doing so,
they are in fact rewarding Westco's very questionable business
practices in attempting to starve Nadeau of chickens. Not to mention
Groupe Westco's total disregard for the devastating economic and human
toll on a small community where so many jobs have been lost."
New Brunswick should look to other provinces for examples of what should
happen here, says CEO Maple Lodge Farms Michael Burrows. "Different
provinces use different tools to ensure supply management remains
stable and that the interests of all stakeholders are protected," he
says. Burrows pointed to Manitoba as an example: "Despite appeals to
the Manitoba Minister of Agriculture, Groupe Westco was not allowed to
exceed the regulated quota limits." In British Columbia, not unlike the
situation in New Brunswick, a producer entered the processing sector as
well. However, British Columbia had plant supply allocation, he added,
and that maintained stability.
Nadeau Poultry invested millions in a state-of-the art plant in 2002
when the original plant was destroyed by fire. In addition to its long
time commitment to the community, Nadeau rebuilt based on the
expectation of a stable supply of product as guaranteed in supply
management, says Burrows. "Instead, we're scrambling for product,
depending temporarily on chickens from Nova Scotia to keep as many
employees as possible on the job." But that supply will soon end, he
says, with the construction of a new processing facility scheduled to
open in 2012. Sourcing chickens from Ontario or Quebec is also
challenged by moratoriums on the export of chickens in those provinces
as a means to protect their own processors.
The government is ducking its responsibility when it describes the
breakdown of the system as simply a "commercial dispute," Burrows says.
"It's a supply management failure and the government is responsible for
fixing it. You would be hard pressed to find anyone knowledgeable about
the system who would not agree that a producer should not be able to
destroy or force the sale of a private commercial processing business
by using the regulatory protection of supply management."
Former Federal Agriculture Minister Lyle VanClief says national supply
management representatives and others are watching the New Brunswick
situation with concern. Canada, he pointed out, decided in the 1970s
that certain products would be governed by a supply management system
as a means of protecting the country's food security and accessibility.
The resulting interlocking federal and provincial legislation governing
the system has resulted in a legal framework that assumes ongoing
dialogue, he explained. "But, when one partner stops talking, it
doesn't work. And that's what has happened - New Brunswick has "stopped
talking," says VanClief. Specifically, he added, the need for a
continuous flow of product to processors is not being recognized or
ensured in New Brunswick, thus jeopardizing the province's opportunity
for a strong, efficient and competitive industry - not just a wealthy
The solution recently rejected by the New Brunswick government, says
Burrows would involve the establishment of the New Brunswick Chicken
Marketing Agency, which would deal solely with the marketing of broiler
chickens past the farm gate and would allocate live chicken supply to
processors both within and outside New Brunswick. This is known as
single desk selling. The current regulatory bodies would retain all
other powers within their current mandate. "The establishment of this
single desk selling for poultry and equipping it with the appropriate
authority, such as what New Brunswick already has for turkey, will
ensure adequate supply of New Brunswick grown chickens to New Brunswick
processors," says Burrows. It will also, he says, maximize employment
opportunities in the chicken processing industry, and encourage a
strong, efficient, competitive chicken processing industry in New
Brunswick. This approach exists today in New Brunswick's milk marketing
system. The beauty of the proposed approach is that it allows fair
treatment for all processors in the province." For example, the
chickens would be equally divided if Westco were to build a new plant,"
says Burrows. "It's a fair and equitable solution that would restore
stability in the province's poultry supply management system."
SOURCE Maple Lodge Farms
For further information:
|Yves Landry |
| ||Michael Burrows|
Maple Lodge Farms
(905) 455-8340 x 2280
| ||Lyle VanClief|
Former Federal Agriculture Minister
(613) 962-0285 (office)
(613) 922-8587 (mobile)