September 1, 2016- This September marks the first annual National Chicken Month in Canada. All month long, Canadians from coast to coast will be celebrating their favourite protein – and the hard-working Canadian chicken farm families that raise it.
It's no surprise that Canadians love chicken. Not only is it great for your health – with a great mix of lean protein and healthy fats – it's delicious, versatile, and raised to the highest standards: yours.
But chicken is good for our country's health, too.
Chicken in Canada is produced under a system called supply management. Under this system, farmers meet often to determine how much chicken consumers in Canada are asking for – and carefully match their production to meet that demand.
Because of this system, consumers and farmers both win: consumers are guaranteed access to their favourite healthy protein, which continues to be the least expensive compared to other meats, and farmers are able to reinvest in their communities with confidence.
"Celebrating National Chicken Month is just one way to celebrate the great chicken that we have been providing to Canadians for decades," said Dave Janzen, Chair of Chicken Farmers of Canada. "Canadians care deeply about their food, about knowing where it comes from and that what they're serving to their family and friends is of the highest quality; our farmers and their families are no different."
With chicken being raised year-round from coast to coast, in every province, Canadians are assured a steady supply of fresh, high-quality chicken. Aside from quality and freshness that is among the best in the world, Canadian chicken farming represents:
- Food Safety You Can Count On: Chicken Farmers of Canada is the first national organization to achieve full federal, provincial and territorial government recognition for our On-Farm Food Safety Assurance Program (OFFSAP).
- An Agriculture Success Story That Doesn't Need Handouts: Canada'schicken farmers contribute $5.9 billion to Canada's GDP, paying out $2 billion in taxes, funding critical infrastructure and services. Chicken farmers also sustain 78,200 jobs throughout the entire chicken supply chain.
- High Animal Care Standards: Canadians expect that farm animals in their country are raised to stringent standards. Canada's chicken farmers work every day to meet this demand with a national, credible, mandatory, and audited Animal Care Program.
To celebrate Canadian chicken, and Canada's 2,800 family chicken farms, to enter one of the contests or to find out more about National Chicken Month activities happening throughout the month near you, visit www.chickenfarmers.ca for more information.
May 24, 2016 - At its 31st annual meeting held in Toronto last week, the Further Poultry Processors Association of Canada (FPPAC) elected the following Board of Directors and Officers:
Chairman Blair Shier, J.D. Sweid
Vice-Chair Ian Hesketh, Intercity Packers
Secretary-Treasurer Jamie Falcao, Maple Leaf Foods
Board of Directors:
Blair Shier J.D. Sweid
Don Kilimnik DC Foods
Ian Hesketh Intercity Packers
Jamie Falcao Maple Leaf Foods
Mike Haworth Maple Lodge Farms
Kevin Thompson Sargent Farms
Betty Dikeos D & D Poultry
Yvan Brodeur Olymel
Paul Murphy Maxi Canada
CFC Rep: Ian Hesketh, Intercity Packers
CFC Alternate: Don Kilimnik, DC Foods
TFC Rep/TMAC/Supply Policy: Keith Hehn, Golden Valley Farms
TFC Alternate: Ed Miner, Zadi Foods
TQAC Chicken Rep Ian Hesketh, Intercity Packers
TQAC Alternate Ed Lamers, Tillsonburg Foods
TQAC Turkey Robert de Valk, FPPAC General Manager
March 23, 2016 - Organizing an inaugural event is never easy, but in B.C., the organizers of the first B.C. Poultry Conference seemed to have pulled off a seamless event with four AGMs, 18 breakout sessions, two lunch keynote speakers, three networking receptions and a gala dinner.
By having BC Egg Marketing Board, BC Chicken Growers Association, BC Hatching Egg Producers Association and BC Turkey Association AGMs in one place, diversified poultry farmers who normally had to juggle different AGMs could now attend all meetings at one place over two days. Other industry partners and government officials were very pleased with how easy they could now schedule all four AGMs into their calendars.
The first BC Poultry Conference, held at the classic Westin Bayshore Hotel on Vancouver’s waterfront March 9-11, 2016 had 541 total registrants for the AGM’s, including over 200 BC poultry farmers, 70 sponsors and exhibitors and 30 out of province industry guests.
“Our long term objective of this conference is to build a cohesive, profitable growing poultry industry that meets the needs of consumers while being socially and environmentally responsible,” states Dale Krahn, Chair, BC Poultry Conference. “When we have many stakeholders in one place we experience opportunities to network with each other and join forces to make our industry better.”
The attendance and support for the conference, was much greater than organizers expected.
"Our gala sold out early at 400 registered people and to accommodate the additional registrants for the AGM's and breakout sessions, our room blocks had to be expanded to neighbouring hotels." states Krahn. “With a successful first year we are in a position to plan for an even bigger, better conference in 2017.”
Conference sponsors came from all segments of the poultry supply chain – farm equipment suppliers, feed companies, bankers, insurance and other service providers, processors, food retailers, restaurants and more. These sponsors played a huge role in helping to make this conference a success, according to organizers, because the sponsorship money helps to minimize costs for farmers.
Eight expert breakout speakers covered a range of topics relevant to current industry issues such as biosecurity, animal welfare, avian influenza, water quality, market trends and raising poultry without antibiotics.
On Thursday, Dr. Art Hister gave conference delegates a humorous lunch time key note on healthy living. On Friday, Astronaut Dr. Robert Thirsk inspired delegates to think about how scientific research in space affects our everyday life.
The public outreach event on Friday morning brought about 22 farmers gearing up early in the morning to hand out 300 Triple O’s sunny starts outside the hotel. Farmers showed tremendous enthusiasm for engaging with the public and telling their story. In addition to handing out the famous breakfast sandwiches, farmers also handed out over 100 copies of the “Real Dirt on Farming”, a magazine that dispels common myths about agriculture in Canada.
The demographics of southern Ontario continue to change and evolve, offering new areas for market growth, states the Chicken Farmers of Ontario (CFO). CFO noted recently that the Chinese and South Asian population is now over 1.3 million in the Greater Toronto Area, and many of these folks really like fresh ‘head and feet on’ chicken. Production of these birds (Frey’s Dual Purpose “yellow” chickens and Silkie chickens) is currently 0.4 per cent of Ontario’s annual chicken production, and the market is estimated to be over 3.0 per cent. All this, says the CFO, demonstrates that the Ontario specialty breeds chicken market is a significant business growth opportunity.
Lakeside Game Farm is the largest provider of fresh ‘head and feet on’ Silkies into the Ontario market. Henry Ebert began marketing the black-skinned, dark-fleshed chickens on his game preserve about 20 years ago alongside ducks and geese, when someone made a request that he do so. His son Jim has taken over the business, officially buying it in 2010, but it was back in 2004 that Silkie production on the farm grew substantially. “We were stuck with some birds that someone ordered but didn’t pay for, and we found a market,” Jim says. “After that, we kept production at about 5000 and now it’s at 8000 birds a week.” He sought some contractors to supplement his production around 2004 and has three of them right now.
Silkies take longer to reach market weight than standard broilers – 11 to 12 weeks for roosters, and 13-14 weeks for female birds. Other than that, Ebert says production and health concerns are similar and he feeds an all-grain standard ration. He sends birds for processing two to four times a week, and has 14 groups of differently-aged birds in four different rooms in his brand new barn (each one at a different temperature) in order to keep up with fresh production flow. “I’m renovating my layer barn as well,” Ebert reports. “I supply myself and my contractors with chicks. It’s a unique operation in the poultry business, to do it all, start to finish.” Ebert does almost everything on the farm, from bird care to delivery of birds to the processing plant, with the help of two part-time employees.
CHALLENGES ALONG THE WAY
Ebert’s success is the result of working steadily for years to establish himself in the Silkie market, and he says he now has only one competitor in the province. However, that wasn’t always the case. Ebert observes that over the years, there were people who would jump into production after hearing there was money to be made, people who would create too much supply and then undercut each other. Everything changed last year though, when CFO began regulating Silkies under its Specialty Breeds Chicken program (see sidebar). “You need a permit now,” Ebert explains.
Lakeside Game Farm produces about 9000 chicks a week depending on the time of year, and recently purchased a new incubator to boost the hatch rate. “My incubators were 20 years old, so it was time,” he says. “I went with a multistage Jamesway unit, which was a big investment, but it’s paying for itself. The hatch rate has gone from 60 per cent to 80 per cent, and the chicks are doing five per cent better too. They’re just healthier and they’re fed the same day they’re hatched.”
Ebert sits on the CFO Specialty Breeds Chicken program committee, and says that members are trying to learn more about how fresh specialty markets work. “There’s a desire for producers like me to weigh each bird before it goes for processing, but I just can’t do that because it would be very time-consuming and it would delay me, as I have all sorts of orders coming in all the time, many of them last-minute,” he says. “I am very much in favour of continuing on with using an average weight per bird.”
Ebert says that because there are still many frozen specialty chickens being imported into Canada where a fresh product is very much desired, the market for Silkies will continue to grow. He believes using a permit system, as opposed to quota which is very expensive for new growers, is the best way to grow the market.
For his hard work, including optimizing the use of his new hatchery and his barn investments, Ebert just won a 2015 Premier’s Award for Agri-food Innovation Excellence. “It’s nice to win the money and get some recognition for hard work,” he says. “Before, you wanted Silkies to be a secret. You didn’t want to advertise, because someone would jump into the market and prices would go down. Now that’s not going to happen with the regulation in place. The stability is great and the barn inspections have been great for my contractors to improve production.”
SPECIALTY BREEDS CHICKEN PROGRAM
In September 2014, Chicken Farmers of Ontario (CFO) approved a new program to support increasing consumer demand for alternative breeds of chicken. The program also brings Ontario into alignment with the national Chicken Farmers of Canada specialty breeds policy. Two common breeds of specialty chicken are included, the Frey’s Special Dual Purpose “yellow” chickens and Silkies, both processed with head and feet left on. CFO’s director of communications and government relations Michael Edmonds says the new program was promoted through an advertising campaign and supported by a series of farmer information sessions throughout the province. “The response to the program and information sessions was strong, with significant numbers of interested farmers seeking information,” he notes. “Since the launch a year ago, the program has increased threefold in volume with 21 farmers now supplying the market with more than 50,000 Frey’s Dual Purpose (15 producers) and Silkie chickens (6 producers) per week.”
In order to further promote and support this emerging market, CFO has hired a specialist to work with retailers, processors and farmers to identify opportunities and ensure the supply management system adequately anticipates and supplies growing demand. “The program also places a major focus on compliance to CFO’s Animal Care and On Farm Food Safety Assurance programs,” Edmonds notes. “This focus on quality has resulted in significant investments, upgrades and improvements to the participating farm facilities, particularly in Silkie production. The program has been successful to date and so no significant changes are being considered at this point.”
Silkies are well known for their calm, friendly temperament and considered an ideal pet chicken. They are one of the most popular ornamental breeds. Hens are exceptionally broody and make good mothers, so they are commonly used to hatch the eggs of other breeds and species.
The Silkie’s most well-documented point of origin is ancient China, but other places such as India and Java have been named as possibilities. As early as the 7th century, traditional Chinese medicine has held that chicken soup made with Silkie meat is a curative food. The earliest surviving written account of Silkies comes from Marco Polo, who wrote in the 13th century during his Asian travels of a furry chicken. Silkies most likely made their way to the West via the Silk Road and by marine shipping trade. Once they became more common in the West, many myths were perpetuated about them. Early Dutch breeders told buyers they were the offspring of chickens and rabbits. The breed was recognized officially in North America in 1874.
APPEARANCE AND BODY
Silkies have an extra toe or two and poufy plumage, black skin, black bones and grayish-black meat (melanism). Melanism which extends beyond the skin into an animal’s connective tissue is a rare trait, and in chickens it is caused by a rare genetic mutation believed to have first appeared in Asia. In addition to the Silkie, several other breeds descended from Asian stock possess the mutation.
The Silkie got its name for the feel of its plumage. The feathers of a Silkie are furry and fluffy, feeling silk-like, because they lack functioning barbicels, which hold feathers on other bird species down. This lack of barbicels in its feathers also leaves the Silkie unable to fly.
The breed does not generally produce as much meat as conventional chickens. Silkies are often mistakenly called a bantam breed, and although they are considered bantams in some countries, the bantam Silkie is actually a separate variety. Almost all North American strains of the breed are bantam-sized, with the males weighing 1.8 kg and females weighing 1.4 kg. Jim Ebert’s birds (male and female) average about 1.45 kg.
Black chicken meat is generally considered unusual in European and American cuisine, but several Asian cuisines consider Silkies a gourmet food. Common dishes include soup, braised dishes and curries.
Adapted from Wikipedia
Food security and sovereignty are increasingly in the news these days. The former means that a country has reliable access to sufficient calories to feed its population, while food sovereignty suggests that the community has control over the way food is produced, traded and consumed. Why should we, in Canada, be concerned over either concept given that we have seemingly endless land on which to grow and raise food, a relatively low population per square kilometer, and highly developed supply chains that can speed it from farm to fork in a matter of days?
Well, we should care—a lot. These days, food seems to be regularly in the news and not always in a good way, from Alberta droughts to accounts of the toll that the sharp decline in global dairy prices exacts on producers in countries that mistakenly saw continually increasing exports as the surest way to financial security.
Canadian producers also understand that our supply managed production is under attack in various international negotiations, from the CETA with the EU to the TPP that is being negotiated with eleven other countries in the Pacific region. In both negotiations, competitors hope to set Canada’s food production agenda in their own interests. This would compromise our made-in-Canada system, and our food sovereignty.
For example, if supply management were negotiated away, chicken producers would have to deal with the U.S. system, which places production responsibility on the producer alone, leaving the processor and the supermarket to reap the benefits of an unequal relationship. American critics like Doug Constance have called this “the Southern Model,” suggesting that it “is a form of sharecropping that replaced slavery in the U.S. South as the dominant form of agriculture production.” Farmers are always on tenterhooks (and the defensive) as to whether or not they will have a remunerative market to sell to.
Indeed, the issue of asymmetric relationships is one of the primary reasons supply management was introduced in the first place. How was it possible that family farmers could deal equitably with the 1960s equivalent of Loblaw, Zehrs or Walmart? In short, they could not then and they cannot now. It is supply management, involving multiple stakeholders including supermarkets, consumers, producers and processors, which levels that playing field. Egg and dairy farmers in countries like Australia and the UK, and poultry producers in the United States, face very uncertain times as they attempt to strike appropriate deals with mega-supermarkets and processors.
I would suggest we don’t want these imported ways of doing business that severely disadvantage farmers and don’t benefit consumers, any more than we want chicken, eggs, milk or turkey from foreign places to crowd out our Canadian product on our grocery store shelves.
The demise of the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) suggests what might happen should supply management disappear. The former CWB is now owned by a Saudi Arabian investment fund and an American agri-food company, and wheat farmers are certainly not ahead of the game. Most producers, if media accounts are correct, pine for the good old days of the single desk marketer. Farmers in that new world have had to become marketers, transporters, selling agents and whole host of other occupations. And the “little guy” is in serious jeopardy.
Supply management is a good system that works with farmers to allow them to make a living wage, while providing an excellent product at a competitive price for consumers.
And why should producers not earn a small profit for their effort? We hear a lot in the media about how expensive our supply managed commodities are compared to their U.S. counterparts, but the latter remain heavily subsidized, with the latest Farm Bill promising U.S. $1 trillion worth of subsidies to American agriculture over 10 years. And costs of production are much lower than those found in Canada for a variety of reasons. Climate is a major one, as is U.S. immigration policy, or rather, the lack thereof. Indeed, a 2015 report from Texas A&M University hypothesized that the cost of a gallon of milk in the US would have to increase by 90 per cent without cheap immigrant labour.
Supply management provides Canadians with 100 per cent food security in the sectors in which it operates, while reflecting Canadian values and culture and contributing to food sovereignty. We don’t need foreign imports in this case. As the old expression has it, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
August 25, 2015 - Team Canada won four medals at the FINA World Championships in Russia. As a result, Chicken Farmers of Canada (CFC) will be providing $18,000 to Canadian swimmers and regional food banks as part of their recently announced incentive program.
Each medal-winning swimmer, (nine in all) will be receiving $1,000 from CFC. In addition, each swimmer will get to choose a food bank to receive an additional $1000 donation from CFC on behalf of each athlete.
"We are proud to support and celebrate our swimmers' achievements, and it's a win-win situation as we also get to further support Canada's food banks," says Dave Janzen, Chairman of CFC. "We take pride in their outstanding results and are pleased to extend that support financially to both them and the food banks in their respective regions."
Ryan Cochrane, winner of two of Canada's medals, said the food bank aspect of the incentive was appreciated. "After a successful World Championships, it's humbling to receive awards for our results, but just as important is our ability to give back to our communities. Thank you to the Chicken Farmers of Canada for helping us to make a difference in our neighbourhoods."
August 4, 2015 - Chicken Farmers of Ontario (CFO) has announced that it is launching a portfolio of new and revised programs that will meet the needs of Ontario consumers while creating new opportunities for farmers and processors. The new programs were developed following extensive public and industry consultations and will use a portion of the future growth in Ontario’s production allocation to facilitate new business opportunities.
The new portfolio of programs will include the creation of three new programs - an Artisanal Chicken program, a Local Niche Markets program, and a Business Development program - while also enhancing and updating some of CFO’s existing programs such as the New Entrant programs. CFO’s Small Flock program is being renamed the “Family Food” program.
The announcement follows a consultative process conducted by CFO working collaboratively with the Association of Ontario Chicken Processors and the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission as Team Ontario. This group reached out to a broad range of industry, public, and farmer stakeholders to seek their views and opinions on the allocation of future growth in Ontario.
The consultation plan outlined some clear objectives for CFO’s new Allocating Growth program. These objectives included:
- Evolving the allocation systems (producer and processor) to improve the flexibility and responsiveness in capitalizing on growth opportunities in the chicken market place;
- Creating value by serving the needs of new, growing and emerging markets;
- Encouraging innovation, new business-building ideas;
- Serving the needs of existing markets taking into consideration their size, importance and historical investment;
- Developing a system that is predictable and stable which aligns the interests of key stakeholders in the chicken industry, and;
- Encouraging quality, efficiency and value creation.
Following consultations, CFO and Team Ontario spent considerable effort reviewing, understanding, and reflecting on the views provided by the various stakeholders. The input received during this process will be available on CFO’s website.
In developing the new programs, CFO addressed some opportunities which became clear during the consultations process. They include:
1. There is a definite demand for small-scale production above the current Small Flock limit ;
2. A number of niche, local and community needs appear to be unmet, especially in Northern Ontario;
3. There appears to be broad support for encouraging new entrant farmers and processors.
More details on the new “Allocating Growth” programs and business opportunities for farmers and processors to meet consumer demand will be announced over the coming months. The full list of new, expanded and revised programs will be outlined on the CFO website at ontariochicken.ca as they become available.
Canada's dairy, poultry and egg farmers teamed up to host a 1950's style pop-up diner in downtown Ottawa to celebrate the high-quality food they deliver every day under the system of supply management. Photo courtesy CNW Group/Egg Farmers of Canada
June 5, 2015 - Canada's dairy, poultry and egg farmers teamed up to host a 1950's style pop-up diner in downtown Ottawa yesterday to celebrate the high-quality food they deliver every day under the system of supply management.
More than 2000 breakfast and lunch sandwiches made with fresh, local ingredients from supply-managed farms were served to Members of Parliament, Senators, Hill staffers and the public. Voluntary cash donations to Food Banks Canada were accepted.
Farmers were also on hand to share how the stability provided by supply management allows them to deliver a stable supply of superior food products, contribute meaningfully to national and rural economies, and give back to their local communities.
Supply management ensures that domestic production of dairy, poultry and eggs meets Canadians' demand. Farmers agree to follow a consistent set of rules and, in turn, receive a fair return for their work and investment. Research shows that 82 per cent of Canadians believe that supply management is good for Canada, while 95 per cent of consumers agree a stable supply of safe, Canadian food is important.
Here’s an example in consumer and farmer disparity for you: at the recent 50th anniversary Egg Farmers of Ontario (EFO) annual meeting, its first general manager, Brian Ellsworth, noted how in the early years, the focus was on fair pricing for farmers and increasing consumption; 50 years later, the organization is giving $50,000 to the Farm and Food Care Foundation to enhance public trust in food.
Consumer mistrust of food and food production wasn’t a reality faced by EFO and it’s provincial and national counterparts in the early 1960s and into the early 1970s, when the primary issues facing the poultry industry were farm economics and controlling production levels.
In the early years of orderly marketing, consumer engagement consisted solely on the promotion of eggs, chicken and turkey. There wasn’t any need to place farmers or farming into the limelight; what they do and how they do it was never questioned. Fifty years ago, people weren’t as removed from farming as they are now.
But all of this has changed dramatically since then. The EFO presented this disparity very well during its meeting, beginning with a “respecting our past” session followed by “embracing our present” and “building our future” sessions. It served to educate producers on how the industry has evolved and shared several key lessons that are applicable across the industry nationwide.
Lawyers involved in upholding the legislation behind the supply management system discussed its origins and how the legislation – a “fusion” of national and provincial authority, has stood the test of time and numerous legal challenges. Despite this, it is not a system to be taken for granted, said speaker Pierre Brousseau, a Montreal-based lawyer who’s made a career out of working with supply-managed commodities. “The younger generation needs to realize that supply management is not written in marble.”
Lawyer Herman Turkstra noted that the “world outside” of supply management wonders about it and said the steps the industry has taken in recent years to communicate with the public and be more transparent is key, and needs to continue with greater effort in future.
This is particularly important with an upcoming federal election and the push from the United States for Canada to sacrifice supply management in order to allow the Trans-Pacific Talks to move ahead. Although one of the “embracing our present” speakers, Chad Gregory, president of the United Egg Producers (UEP), praised the system, he acknowledged that without it, “it would be a matter of months” before U.S. producers moved in.
The reality for our forefathers was setting up a system that worked for both producers and consumers. But it’s not just about stability and profitability anymore. Now, farmers are faced with not only protecting the system in which they operate, but defending what they do and how they do it every day.
It’s not fun having to be on the defense at every turn, but it’s necessary in today’s world. As “building our future” speaker Jim Carroll – a futurist, trend and innovation expert – noted, seven out of 10 children today will be working in jobs that aren’t even in existence yet. Their world is social, immediate and online, and they are bombarded with messages at every turn. The industry needs to embrace this, and ensure that the messages they receive are factual – the future depends on it.
April 6, 2015 - Egg Farmers of Alberta (EFA) is proud to announce that Susan Schafers, Chair of the EFA Board of Directors, has been named the 2015 recipient of the Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC) Award of Distinction for Communication. Susan was presented with the award at AFAC’s annual Livestock Care Conference in Calgary, on March 27th.
According to AFAC, its Awards of Distinction were initiated in 2001 to recognize individuals or groups who have made exceptional contributions in the field of livestock welfare. The Communication award honors those that take an active role in effectively getting the message out about livestock issues, and informing the public and agri-food industry about farm animal care in a factual and honest way, to build trust and credibility.
Susan Schafers is a second generation egg farmer who became Chair of the EFA Board in 2014 and, in a relatively short period of time, Susan has dedicated herself to being the public face of EFA and Alberta’s egg industry. Susan has also been the Alberta representative for the Pullet Growers of Canada, the egg industry representative for AFAC, and the leader of the 4-H club in Spruce Grove.
Farming has always been in her blood, and it has become her life and livelihood. Even though she feels most at peace when she’s alone in the barn collecting eggs from ‘her girls’, sharing her story has become second nature to her. Communicating about farming is not what she does; it’s who she is! Susan is immediately likable and trustworthy, as her authenticity and passion comes bubbling through; traits she undoubtedly inherited from her father Manfred, who started the family farm and also played an important role in the founding of AFAC.
Susan Schafers’ dedication to animal welfare and passion for sharing her story is what makes her such a remarkable communicator, who is able to make a personal connection and leave a lasting impression with everyone she comes in contact with. The EFA Board and staff are proud of Susan for epitomizing the qualities and characteristics demanded by this award, and for giving so much of herself to service of our industry.
Hon. Jeff Leal, Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (front row center) joined by Henry Zantingh - CFO Chair, Rob Dougans - CFO CEO, CFO Board Members and CFO District Committee Representatives from across the province to announce CFO's new Food Bank Donation Program at the Daily Bread Food Bank in Toronto. Contributed photo.
January 20, 2015, Toronto - Chicken Farmers of Ontario (CFO) and its 1100 family-run farms across Ontario have launched a new program in support of the province's hungry. The CFO Food Bank Donation Program will help facilitate the donation of up to 300 chickens per farmer each year to local food banks. CFO has set an annual donation target of 100,000 chickens worth an equivalent retail value of $1 million.
"We're very excited to have developed this program in partnership with the Ontario Association of Food Banks which will allow us for the first time to have an effective mechanism to contribute to those food bank client families looking to put safe, healthy, locally grown fresh chicken on their table," said Henry Zantingh, Chair of Chicken Farmers of Ontario.
The new program is made possible in part by the Government of Ontario's new Food Donation Tax Credit for Farmers (introduced with the Local Food Act) which helps promote local food contributions by offering farmers a 25 per cent tax credit for the fresh food they donate to Ontario food banks. Prior to this program CFO and its farmers supported the food bank system
primarily through cash donations.
"I applaud the Chicken Farmers of Ontario for encouraging their members to donate to food banks through this new campaign. Our government established the food donation tax credit to reward the generosity of farmers who donate to food banks, student nutrition programs, and other community food organizations. This credit, along with the initiative launched today by the CFO, will help provide fresh, healthy, local food to those who need it most, stated the Honourable Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs.
Gail Nyberg, Executive Director of Daily Bread Food Bank, could not be happier about this new campaign. She says being able to provide clients with healthy food choices is so important and this program with the Chicken Farmers of Ontario and the Ontario Association of Food Banks will ensure that clients have a fresh and local protein option on their table. Proteins are one of our most needed food item groups, she says. Daily Bread Food Bank provides food and support to almost 200 food programs across Toronto that saw over 700,000 visits last year.
For more details on the CFO Food Bank Donation Program please click here
Numerous past chairs were able to participate in TFC’s 40th annual meeting in Ottawa
On March 20th, 2014, in the halls of Ottawa’s Chateau Laurier Hotel, a gathering took place. Members of the Turkey Farmers of Canada (TFC – formerly the Canadian Turkey Marketing Agency – CTMA) enjoyed a luncheon and speeches to mark the 40th anniversary of the TFC. At the assembly were past TFC chairs Brent Montgomery, Eike Futter, and others. Mark Davies, the current chair, also recognized former chairs not in attendance, some posthumously. Here we take a look back at the origins of the TFC, its present and its future.
A few flocks and beyond
Turkey farming was once a sideline activity for farm families. In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, according to British historian John Martin, turkey production was a seasonal activity undertaken “often as an adjunct to farming.”1 Many small-scale producers in Canada, Britain, and the U.S. kept flocks in order to make extra cash that was essential to family incomes. Farm women, who did the majority of the work, found that turkey rearing was an activity that fit well with their daily tasks. Since turkeys often wandered about poultry yards kept near farmhouses and fed upon “insects, mast, and other food on their own,” the women could complete other chores while rearing the birds, or instruct children to care for them.2
Soon, farming men and women became captivated by the possibilities that the turkey offered. Agriculturalists worked on better breeding and raising methods, enhancing quality and quantity. In the United States, by 1890, American farms housed 11 million turkeys, showing the popularity of the product among progressive farmers. However, as of 1910, less than a third of them remained. According to environmental historian Neil Pendergast, the decline was owing to the high levels of production that “courted disease;” blackhead had made its way through American farmland, from the east coast to the midwest, reducing producers’ flocks. Agricultural scientists investigated solutions to the disease, and in doing so carried turkey farming out of the hands of small-scale farmers and into that of larger agribusiness. Over the next two decades farmers even developed turkey ranches, putting the “production of domestic turkeys on a new scale.”3
Poultry Production in Canada to the 1960s
During the Great Depression, many Canadian farmers could barely put food on the table, but national concern for turkey production wasn’t far off. According to former Canada Poutlryman editor Fred Beeson, in the 1930s “it was enough” that producers “could scrape up sufficient food” to feed their families so poultry production remained small scale throughout the provinces. However, as Jim Knisley stated in a 2013 issue of Canadian Poultry, “when the war happened, it all changed.” Canadian farmers rushed to the service of the British cause — poultry production was a part of that effort. By 1945, for example, The Canadian Yearbook cited nearly 3.4 million turkeys produced on Canadian farms, whereas in 1927 the number had been only 1.9 million – farmers had doubled their turkey production in less than two decades.4 Canadian governments and farmers organized controls and systems to encourage such production, bringing poultry farming into centre stage.
Following the war, Knisely said, “no one was certain what would come next.” Neo-liberal economists and other businessmen called for a return to the free enterprise system and the removal of government influence. Many poultry farmers enjoyed the stability that wartime agricultural management brought them, but Canada remained non-committed to the idea of an official national production system in the face of such calls for a return to laissez-faire economics. Even though Australia was able to establish an egg board in 1949, Canadian farmers went without such representation until the “Chicken and Egg Wars” arrived in the early 1970s and producers and governments alike realized that they could ignore the question no longer.
Teetering on the Cliff: when 1974 seemed far off
Twentieth-century agricultural science, put simply, worked almost too well for Canadian poultry producers. By the 1960s, electrification, better barns, lighting, feed and ventilation systems raised production to new levels. Now, though, the problem was the overproduction of poultry. In 1961, for example, B.C. broilers shipped their surpluses to other provinces, drastically affecting prices at destination points. And in 1970, when Ontario and Manitoba egg producers shipped large quantities of eggs into Quebec, a fire was sparked that became known as the “Chicken and Egg War.” Quebec responded to Ontario and Manitoba producers by restricting future imports, and in retaliation the provinces sought to prevent the import of Quebec-originated chicken. While the battle was eventually taken care of by the Manitoba Court of Appeal, the Canadian poultry trade was, in essence, cracking under the pressure.
Even in the face of such a situation, “consumers groups, some economists, and many corporate interests” remained firmly against price and production controls, often seeing agricultural policy as being co-opted into a system of social welfare for farmers.5 However, with steep financial losses in the poultry production sector worrying politicians, and many farmers calling for some type of national planning, governments finally acted. After Bill C-176 was passed, egg farmers of Canada came first, establishing the Canadian egg Marketing Agency (CEMA) in 1972. Turkey farmers followed this step shortly thereafter. In 1974 producers founded the CTMA, and John Tanchak took the reins as the group’s first chair. Coming a long way since a few birds wandered about farmhouse poultry yards, turkey production became a fully nationalized and institutionalized system that year, and CTMA sought to give producers the representation and stability they would need going forth.
Turkey Farmers of Canada: 40 Years of Stability, Innovation and Public Service
In a 2003 interview, former agriculture minister Eugene Whalen said that supply management was intended to fix the chaotic system that existed in Canadian agriculture before the mid-1970s, “especially for perishable products. The principle was to provide some kind of stability to the overall economic situation.” While battles still had to be fought after 1974, the group’s next four decades brought stability to the industry, in turn encouraging innovation and public service.
Between 1974 and 2013, turkey production in Canada boomed. While the total number of producers actually declined (from 602 to 527), according the 2013 Turkey Factbook, cash receipts increased from $121 million in 1974 to $400 million in 2013. The changes represent the consolidation of turkey production into the hands of successful producers, made possible by supply management.
A quick look at the TFC timeline, published in 2014 to celebrate the 40th anniversary, shows what the group did for turkey producers over the past forty years. Just three years after the group was established, CTMA practices encouraged a pricing increase of 25 per cent — from the 1964 price of just 77 cents, to $1.00 per kilo in 1977. Farmers could make that price work for them and their families. And in 1984, under chair William Chrismas, “signatories to the Federal-Provincial Agreement” agreed to allow “provincial Commodity Boards to enter into and execute a Promotion Agreement containing a monetary penalty for overproduction,” further discouraging the practice that had contributed to low prices in the early 1970s. Nearly ten years later, CTMA was also present during the NAFTA and GATT negotiations and the group helped ensure that the “long-term visibility of the Canadian turkey industry” remained on the minds of negotiators (keeping a drumstick on the table, so-to-speak). With the CTMA at the helm, turkey farmers experienced a business environment they could operate in, expanding and improving their practices in a stable and relatively certain climate.
While the Canadian urban public often thinks of farmers as ultramontane or conservative, the CTMA and its members were actually quite innovative and willing to adapt to change. In 1987, for example, the group established the CTMA research committee, and in order to enhance humane livestock handling and biosecurity in the turkey production industry, the CTMA sought the publication of the Recommended Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Poultry from Hatchery to Processing Plant in 1988/1989, and the Best Management Practices for Turkey Production in 1996. In terms of biosecurity, the CTMA was present when avian influenza arrived in 2004 on a B.C. turkey farm and resulted “in a major culling program.” Turkey farmers benefitted from having standardized recommendations and a representative group constantly reflecting on the health and vitality of the industry, preventing and responding to disasters mild and severe.
The CTMA, however, was not just about service directly to turkey farmers. The organization has also worked to ensure consumers are aware of turkey as a consumptive product. In this sense, public service is also a key mission for the group. As early as 1976 the CTMA published its first turkey cookbook, Talking Turkey, which was distributed across member provinces. And to ensure that consumers didn’t just think about turkey at Christmas, Easter or Thanksgiving, by 1984 the CTMA looked at motivating Canadians to have “turkey anytime,” a mission that was further encouraged after 1996 when the CTMA website Canadianturkey.ca was established. The digital effort expanded into the 1996 Turkeytuesday.ca website, the 2009 creation of a Twitter account (under the new name Turkey Farmers of Canada), and the 2011 Facebook page and YouTube channel. According to Mark Davies, the goal was to make turkey an “everyday choice” for consumers, and it worked.4
Increased purchases of non-whole turkey depicts the success of these campaigns. In fact, the 2013 Turkey Factbook shows that across Canada sales of “parts” tripled, from 2,325,000 kilos to 5,682,000, and “processed” increased even more substantially, from 579,000 to 11,695,000 kilos, between 1983 and 2013. The campaigns clearly gave turkey producers a bigger share of the market and allowed the products to find their way onto consumers’ tables. CMTA/TFC’s efforts continue to pay dividends to this day.
The critics and future of SM and the TFC
Even though the CTMA/TFC has shown itself as a benefit to both consumers and producers, it is not without its critics. Indeed, anti-supply management attacks have been part-and-parcel of the SM experience since the beginning, often popping up when opportunity strikes. As Canada has recently weighed the costs of entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), for example, the C.D. Howe Institute released a number of reports critical of SM controls, and even former Liberal leadership hopeful Martha Hall Findlay, now at the Calgary school of public policy, and National Post columnist Andrew Coyne chimed in. A 2013 C.D. Howe paper (commentary 382 – written by Robert Mysicka and Marty McKendry) referred to SM controls as “anti-competitive regulations” creating government-sponsored “cartels.” And Findlay, in her 2012 paper, said the TPP trade negotiations are a welcomed surprise as they offer Canada an opportune moment in which to abandon the “supply management regime,” similarly using the term “cartel” to label SM boards and agencies.
According to Eugene Whalen in 2013, “supply management is always under attack.” And, in typical blunt fashion, Whalen said that SM critics often “don’t know a thing about agriculture.”7 The only issue farmers should concern themselves with is “the fact that self-destruction is possible.” Those producers, turkey farmers among them, who have supported and prospered under SM controls, in other words, need to “continue to defend the system and continue to explain it.” Since such public service and educative efforts have been a part of the CTMA/TFC since its inception, and the group has proved itself adept at working with the public and policy makers, it is likely that in the future the group will have to dedicate itself to ensuring that the Canadian public understands agricultural systems and the benefits that SM controls brought producers and consumers — forty years of them, to be exact.
Mark Davies, commenting in the TFC Annual Report 2013, said that “in 1974, when Turkey Farmers of Canada was established under the federal Farm Products Agencies Act...staff members were tasked with the responsibility of administering national quota policy.” This was no easy task, but CTMA/TFC did it in spades. Working with farmers, politicians, negotiators and the Canadian public, the group proved itself capable of making the system work and it brought forty years of turkey successes and innovations. The advances experienced and the long- and short-term profitability of the TFC, Davies said, are “the ultimate confirmation of the supply management system and confirmation of what...individual farmers, leaders and business owners can accomplish when we work together.”
What the future has in store for turkey can never be known, of course, but the TFC will surely have an important role to play for consumers and producers alike. But, this year, let’s take a break and celebrate the 40th anniversary of the TFC which, as Phil Boyd says, “is a big deal.” Congratulations to the Turkey Farmers of Canada.
References available on our website www.canadianpoultrymag.com or by request
November 20, 2014 - Egg Farmers of Canada has been named by Waterstone Human Capital as one of Canada's 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures. Now in its 10th year, the national program annually recognizes best-in-class Canadian organizations for having a culture that has helped them enhance performance and sustain a competitive advantage.
"It is such a great honour to be receiving this award. Our employees and farmers work hard every day to incorporate social responsibility into all aspects of our organization," said Tim Lambert, Chief Executive Officer of Egg Farmers of Canada. "We do that by constantly striving towards improving our communities, showing integrity and passion in our work, and by including social, cultural, health, environmental and financial aspects into all of our policy making to ensure our industry remains strong now and for future generations."
Canada's 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures™ is founded and presented by Waterstone Human Capital, one of Canada's fastest-growing retained executive search firms specializing in recruiting for fit and in cultural assessment.
"Egg Farmers of Canada is a remarkable organization," says Jennifer Mondoux, Managing Director, Ottawa, Waterstone Human Capital. "CEO Tim Lambert is leading a very sophisticated and innovative team, rooted in rural communities and sustainability, with a strongly aligned culture. Egg Farmers' work on the international front, and in other CSR initiatives here in Canada, is truly impressive. They are very deserving of this award."
Egg Farmers of Canada sponsors many national causes including the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure and Breakfast Club of Canada and Food Banks Canada. They also support the development of youth and the next generation of leaders within agriculture and more broadly through the Canadian Young Farmers Forum and the Forum for Young Canadians.
Through the International Egg Foundation, which seeks to increase egg production and consumption in developing countries, Egg Farmers of Canada is supporting Project Canaan, an initiative that helps address food insecurity and feeds orphaned children in Swaziland by sharing Canadian expertise on sustainable farming.
October 16, 2014 - Lors de la tenue du dernier conseil d’administration de la Fédération des producteurs d’œufs du Québec (FPOQ), la directrice générale de l’Union des producteurs agricoles, Mme Guylaine Gosselin, fut invitée à procéder au tirage du gagnant du Programme d’aide au démarrage de nouveaux producteurs. Par conséquent, M. Alex Turcotte-Lauzier, de Val-Brillant au Bas-Saint-Laurent, est le récipiendaire 2014 du Mérite Philippe Olivier et, par le fait même, se voit octroyer un droit d’utilisation de 6 000 unités de quota de poules pondeuses. M. Turcotte-Lauzier en était à sa troisième participation au Programme.
Rappelons que la Fédération commémore le décès de M. Philippe Olivier, ancien employé de la Fédération responsable du Programme, par la remise du Mérite Philippe Olivier à tous les récipiendaires.
July 24, 2014 - The Chicken Farmers of Saskatchewan has been given an investment of $275,000 to undertake a research project on disease control from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC).
The announcement was made today by Member of Parliament Brad Trost, on behalf of Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, in Saskatoon.
With this investment, the Chicken Farmers of Saskatchewan aims to identify and characterize new variants of the avian reovirus and determine how they are transmitted. It also aims to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of vaccines for inclusion body hepatitis (IBH) in field trials.
This project is a step in the development of vaccines for avian reovirus and IBH, two diseases which are a common problem for many broiler producers. If commercialized, these vaccines have the potential of reducing economic losses in the Canadian broiler chicken industry and the need for therapeutics by preventing instead of treating these diseases.
Chicken Farmers of Saskatchewan Chair Diane Pastoor said the organization is “excited to receive this investment to advance research and development into safe and effective vaccines for the Canadian poultry industry.” The research will be conducted through the University of Saskatchewan by Dr. Susantha Gomis and will assist the industry in improving flock health and reducing the usage of antibiotics, she said.
This investment is made through the Industry-led Research and Development stream of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's AgriInnovation Program, a five-year, up to $698-million initiative under Growing Forward 2.
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Western Poultry ConferenceMon Feb 27, 2017
Alberta Poulty Industry Annual General MeetingsTue Feb 28, 2017
The Food and Beverage ConventionThu Mar 02, 2017
Manitoba Turkey Producers' 48th Annual General MeetingTue Mar 07, 2017 @11:30AM - 04:00PM
London Poultry ShowWed Apr 05, 2017
Canada's Food Loss and Waste Forum | Finding solutionsWed Apr 12, 2017