Nov. 27, 2013, Truro, NS - Nova Scotia Egg Producers (NSEP), which regulates egg production in the province, is introducing a program that will award selected new egg farmers with a no-cost quota lease for up to 500 laying hens provided that they are raised in alternative housing systems - free run, free range or certified organic.
The new entrant program, aimed at meeting increased consumer demand for locally produced specialty eggs, includes the creation of a class of leased quotas that will add up to 2,000 laying hens to Nova Scotia's system of egg supply management.
Farmers who meet NSEP's eligibility requirements can enter a lottery in order to receive leased quota for up to 500 hens per farm. These special quotas cannot be transferred or sold and must be used to raise hens in alternative housing.
Farmers must also comply with all NSEP programs, including food safety and animal care. If an applicant's business plan includes selling eggs to retail or food service outlets, the eggs must be graded at federally registered egg grading stations.
NSEP is also increasing to 200, from 100, the number of hens that small-scale, diversified farmers are allowed to maintain without having to obtain quotas. The increased small flock exemption is aimed at helping family farms take advantage of market opportunities to broaden their revenues, as well as boosting rural economies.
"Today's announcements ensure that Nova Scotians will have increased access to a full selection of locally produced eggs using all housing systems," says Geneve Newcombe, Chair NSEP. "These changes also demonstrate the flexibility of supply management, the system that has been supplying our market with local eggs and helping to maintain family owned egg farms for more than 40 years."
As in all other provinces, NSEP uses a system of supply management to ensure a stable supply of locally produced eggs to consumers at fair prices while also providing farmers with a fair return. Farmers must own quotas for the number of laying hens and must adhere to rigorous food safety and animal welfare standards.
The introduction of leased quota is pending regulatory review and approval. The increase in the small flock threshold has already received approval and is now in effect.
"I am pleased with the Egg Producers' response to changing consumer demand for egg products that use different types of production approaches," says Agriculture Minister Keith Colwell. "I am also pleased that the Egg Producers responded to the need for development opportunities for small business and small farmers."
NSEP is confident that its decision to allow small-scale farmers to now have flocks of up to 200 laying hens without the need to purchase quota will provide an economic stimulus for both diversified farmers and their communities.
"Farming can be a tough business but our small flock of egg layers provides us with a stable source of revenue," explains Bill Wood, a farmer in Tatamagouche, in Colchester County. "Doubling the allowable number of hens is a most welcome decision."
Nova Scotia Egg Producers expands alternative housing
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