Marketing Boards

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 was established. The digital effort expanded into the 1996 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 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.

May 7, 2014, Ottawa, Ont. - The Pullet Growers of Canada (PGC) is disappointed with the decision by Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, that PGC not be granted Part 2 Agency Status under the Farm Products Agencies Act of Canada, but PGC remains firmly committed to developing a stable and sustainable future for Canadian pullet growers.

"This has been a long and involved process. This is the right time for PGC to come under supply management and would have been a positive change for Canadian pullet growers," said Andy DeWeerd, PGC Chair. "Achieving agency status would have stabilized the pullet industry and allowed us to be proactive - instead of reactive - in implementing national programs on cost of production, disease control, HACCP [Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points] and housing standards, among many others."

This decision comes after more than four years of organizational preparations by the PGC as they proceeded step by step through the legal process of applying for Agency Status to include pullets in the supply management marketing system. Pullets are the day-old chicks raised to 19 weeks that become layer hens. Pullets are currently the only part of the poultry system that is not in supply management.

A successful application would have given PGC the required legal powers to represent and make decisions on behalf of member provincial pullet grower organizations on issues related to cost of production, disease control and animal welfare, among many other issues facing the industry. Stable pricing under supply management would have allowed pullet growers to reinvest in their farms and address social and environmental responsibilities to the standards expected by Canadians with consistent national programs.

"We have come too far to just give up," says DeWeerd. "Now is the time to regroup, examine our options and forge ahead. The status quo simply doesn't work anymore and one way or another, PGC will lead Canadian pullet growers into a stable future."


April 30, 2014 - The Egg Farmers of Alberta (EFA) has announced that the application window for the New Entrant Program (NEP) is now open, giving individuals the chance to become Alberta’s newest egg farmer.  

The New Entrant Program was established in order to assist individuals and families who want to own and operate an egg farm in Alberta, by alleviating some of the producer’s start-up costs.  NEP quota will be issued at no cost to the successful applicant(s).


To be eligible for EFA’s NEP, the following criteria must be met. The applicant: 

-    must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada;

-    must be  a permanent resident of Alberta;

-    Not be a current or past quota holder


All applications will be reviewed for eligibility and evaluated by a selection committee.  Quota will be issued in lots of up to 1,500 birds.  If the total number of qualified candidates exceeds the number of lots available, a draw will be held to determine the NEP allotment.


To apply, interested parties must complete and submit a New Entrant Plan application form to the EFA Board of Directors, along with a comprehensive business plan and a $1,000 fee.  For more information, NEP information packages are available online (  Applicants can submit their application form, business plan and fee via mail, or in person at the EFA office.  Applications will be accepted from April 30, 2014 until June 27, 2014.

April 21, 2014 - Egg Farmers of Canada (EFC) today announced a new campaign showcasing the "Natural Goodness" of Canadian eggs. The new campaign features eggs as a natural choice, which consumer research revealed to be very important. 

"We know that more and more Canadians are choosing foods that are nutritious and wholesome," says Bonnie Cohen, Egg Farmers of Canada's Director of Marketing and Nutrition. "The campaign, profiling a Canadian egg farmer, reminds consumers that they can trust the goodness and purity of Canadian eggs," Cohen added.

Developed by Cossette in English and French, EFC's Natural Goodness campaign launches on TV, in print, online and in-store, all including the tagline: Natural Goodness. Brought to you by your local egg farmers. The centrepiece of the campaign is a new 30-second TV spot that features second generation egg farmer, Laurent Souligny, and his family. In the spot, Souligny outlines his family's farming history and explains how eggs have always been a natural source of protein and nutrients.

"Recruiting a practicing farmer with generations of experience brings authenticity, and allowed us to underscore the message that eggs have always been naturally good," adds David Daga, Co Chief Creative Director at Cossette.

EFC's Natural Goodness campaign launches on TV and online in April. Print and in-store will roll-out later this year.

The new Natural Goodness TVC can be viewed here.


March 20, 2014- Chicken Farmers of Canada announced the election of its 2014 Executive Committee yesterday in Ottawa. The elections followed its annual general meeting. The 15-member Board of Directors, made up of farmers and other stakeholders from the chicken industry, has chosen the following representatives: 

Dave Janzen, re-elected as Chair, has represented British Columbia as an alternate since 2006 and has been their director since 2008. He joined the Executive committee in 2010 and first became the Chair in 2012. His family farm in Abbotsford that he and wife Jeannie started from scratch in 1981 has been home to four Janzen kids, and is right next door to the Fraser Valley dairy farm where he grew up. Dave and his family produce nearly 1 million kg each year.

 Yvon Cyr, elected as the 1st Vice-Chair, has been a chicken farmer since 1987. He produces approximately 3.3 million kg of chicken each year on his farm near Saint-François-de-Madawaska in New Brunswick. He is part of the Westco Group, which produces 16.5 million kg of chicken per year, 1.5 million kg of turkey, 80,000 breeders, 70,000 commercial laying hens and operates one hatchery. Yvon and his wife Linda have four boys.

Benoît Fontaine, from Stanbridge Station, Quebec, was elected as the 2nd Vice-Chair of the Executive Committee. He joined the Board last year as an alternate, served on the Production Committee and became the Quebec Director this year. He farms in the Lac Champlain area and raises 3 million kg of chicken, 100,000 ducks and 85,000 turkeys each year. A 2nd generation chicken farmer, Benoît has also been heavily involved in the Union des producteurs agricoles, the Quebec farmer organization, since 1999.

Vernon Froese, of Grunthal, Manitoba has been on the Chicken Farmers of Canada Board since 2012, but was an alternate prior to that. At the 2014 AGM, Vernon was elected to the Executive Committee as the Executive Member. Vernon, wife Hilda, and two sons grow over 800,000 kg of chicken each year; cash crop about 750 acres of corn and canola, and raise 12,000 feeder pigs. He has previously served on the Board’s Policy Committee.


This is my final piece as the principal contributor to The Back Page. When I was invited a year ago to write the column, I accepted, but explained that I couldn’t do it for more than a year because of other commitments.

So, what should my final article be about? Reflecting upon my 16 years of managing communications for Chicken Farmers of Ontario (CFO), I decided to write about Bob Lakey, who very sadly passed away about ten years ago. Bob became a great friend and, if this column reads like a tribute, that is OK with me and I am sure it will be just fine with anyone who met Bob or heard him speak about the American poultry industry, trade and supply management.

In 1991 or ‘92, I suggested to the CFO that we should develop contacts with American chicken farmers and try to find someone who would be willing to speak at CFO’s Annual Meeting. I needed somebody “real” who could speak farmer-to-farmer and who would not suffer stage fright when speaking to 500 people in a big Toronto hotel. The person I found was Bob Lakey who lived in Adona, Arkansas, which is about an hour outside of Little Rock.

My journey into the world of American chicken farming began at a three-day long clandestine meeting of the National Contract Poultry Growers’ Association. It was pretty much in the middle of nowhere, someplace in Alabama. That is where I met chicken farmers from across the country, including Bob Lakey. The meeting was clandestine because the farmers did not want any “integrators” to sneak into the meeting and recognize disgruntled growers. Should that happen, the farmers feared losing their contract, knowing full well that once an integrator “cuts off” a grower, no other company will touch him. It was literally by invitation only.

At one point, I was invited to go to the front of the hall to speak about supply management because they were very interested in hearing me explain how farmers in Canada made a good living growing chickens. About five minutes into my supply management talk, I suddenly stopped and said: “It just hit me. I know why your situation is so bleak. You don’t own the food you produce. You have nothing to sell and that is why you have no power.” Nobody argued with me.

The next day, I invited Bob to come to Canada. He thought I was kidding, but I wasn’t, and he accepted my invitation. When he arrived, we asked if he would like to go to the top of the CN tower or see Niagara Falls. In his distinct southern accent, he graciously declined the offers and said he would much rather visit some chicken farms, which we did.  He was shocked at what he saw and asked me if I had staged visits to four or five of the nicest farms.

Bob visited Canada several times and always delivered a powerful message and one that bears repeating,

Here are some excerpts from his speech to a full house at the 1995 CFO Annual Meeting in Toronto. Everybody wanted to hear his compelling story about life in the chicken business from an American perspective. It’s my pleasure to end The Back Page with words from Bob Lakey – the man from Arkansas.

“We need legislation designed specifically to give effective protection to poultry growers in their dealings with the integrators. Contract growing is not going to go away in the United States. I believe that we will continue to grow birds that we don’t own. That is why we need legislation that would make our contracts with the integrators true contracts. Today, we have no say in those contracts. We have to sign them or lose our farms. They are not contracts between two partners. They are ultimatums.

“My chicken houses produce six flocks per year with 20,000 birds per flock. At the end of the year, after I have made my mortgage payments, paid the utilities and covered other business costs, and I allow absolutely nothing for my labor, I can expect to net about $4,000. That is $4,000 net per house, per year. So, with my three houses, I could expect to net $12,000 a year.

“I sincerely hope that you are successful in Canada in your battle to maintain effective tariffs on chicken, because if you are not, you will end up like me in a real hurry. I doubt very much if any of you would want to trade places. I wouldn’t wish our situation on my worst enemy, and I sure wouldn’t wish it on you people, who I consider to be my good friends.”


The needs of the poultry industry are changing and Chicken Farmers of Ontario (CFO) is investing in enhanced capabilities and capacity to deliver that change. That investment began with the introduction of the CFO Flock Manager program in 2013.

 Flock Manager is an online reporting system that has created a more efficient way of filing the familiar Form 3’s and 6’s that broiler farmers have always submitted to report flock production and marketing. The electronic filing system simplifies the process, eliminating legibility issues, reducing the number of incomplete forms by forcing data entry in required sections of the form, and significantly speeding up the transfer of information.

“It used to be a seven- to 10-day gap with the form ‘in the mail,’ ” said Cathy Aker, CFO’s manager of quality and risk management. While the system will eventually be used by all farmers, Aker said that the early adopters have been critical in helping to shape and refine the reporting system.

So how has it worked so far?

Mike and Leonie Vander Meer and their son Daniel operate a broiler farm in Wellandport, Ont. When they first heard of the opportunity to participate in CFO’s Flock Manager electronic form trials, Mike was a little hesitant – he didn’t spend a lot of time with a computer – but Leonie said, “No, we should do this.”

“The first attempts at electronic filing with Flock Manager involved at lot of phone calls,“ Leonie remembers, “and a bit of technical frustration in the wee hours of the morning as the chickens ship out somewhere between midnight and 8 a.m.”  

Mike and Leonie soon discovered that the program worked better with Fire Fox than Internet Explorer. Webinars were available to help coach them though the forms and in the early stages they appreciated the opportunity to provide suggestions for refining the forms. They have since purchased a tablet in order to be more mobile. It took only a few crops for Mike to become comfortable with using Flock Manger on the tablet on his own.

Leonie encourages those still hesitating to attempt the electronic filing to try it, as it is easier to grow along with the program than playing “catch up” later on.

Tim Klompmaker is a chicken farmer from Peterborough County, farming there since 1984. He is also the CFO board director for District 9 and chair of the Farm Operations and Sustainability committee. Klompmaker was involved in Flock Manager at the committee level at CFO, but as a farmer he became involved when his processor, Farm Fresh Poultry Co-operative, agreed to participate in the traceability pilot project.

 From his farmer perspective, Flock Manager was about helping to eliminate the need for paper forms and allowing the quick and efficient flow of information electronically between CFO, farmer, processor and hatcheries. From a risk management perspective the new program would allow for quick access to information and the ability to react promptly in the case of a disease outbreak.

As a farmer, Klompmaker sees Flock Manager as “a work in progress.” He recalls that, just the way their schedule worked out, they were both shipping from one farm the first week of the program and placing chicks at their other farm. “We were basically the guinea pigs for the program so it was time-consuming initially,” he said, but as far as adapting to the new program it was a relatively easy transition since the online forms are not significantly different from the paper forms.

With his director hat on, Klompmaker would like to expand the program so that as much reporting as possible will be done online, including but not limited to the On Farm Food Safety Assurance Program (OFFSAP) and Animal Care Program (ACP).

In July 2013, Paul Bakker used Flock Manager for the first time. He was “pleasantly surprised,” especially with the 24-hour support line provided by Earl Thomson. “There will always be some bugs,” said Bakker, who farms near Belwood, Ont.

His involvement as a member of the processing co-operative Farm Fresh Poultry, a company that has now gone entirely paperless for the Form 3 and 6, helped him to decide to become involved early. To him, Flock Manager was “long overdue.” Bakker doesn’t consider himself to be super tech savvy but he is familiar with computers. “It’s just clicking buttons,” he said, so it wasn’t a big jump for him to handle the computerized version of the familiar forms.

When he first started with Flock Manager he found himself going back and forth to the barn while entering all the information, but now it’s streamlined – he just passes it off to the driver and it’s done.

“There’s nothing I’d change,” said Bakker. All of the information is in drop down boxes on the computer screen, making selections easy. He reports that the interface is intuitive and very simple, and the support team can fix things in real time, 24/7. If you’re sitting on the fence about Flock Manager, “go in with an open mind,” said Bakker, who is now up to speed after only two or three flocks.

As of February 2014, almost 250 Ontario broiler farmers are using the Flock Manager system.

Cathy Aker reports that at the processor level, those committed to using Flock Manager wouldn’t look back. Maximizing output drives the bottom line, said Aker, and now Canadian Food Inspection Agency vets can access information instantly online, reducing delays at the plant. In that respect, Flock Manager will help to streamline the inspection process.

As the program evolves, Aker predicts further “tweaks” to Form 6, which starts with the farmer but is then passed along to the driver. “We’ve had varying levels of success,” she reports, largely because of different comfort levels of the drivers with using mobile electronic devices to input the data. The first solution involved texting the information using an older-style flip phone, but there were issues when big fingers met small keys. She is confident that a new transporter portal data entry system will work better.

Even though it is still relatively new, the Flock Manager system is currently undergoing a “rebranding” and will be known as CFO Connects – Trace, part of a complete system which will streamline, standardize and automate all operations. This new platform will help CFO reach its goal of simplifying how business is done in the chicken industry.


January 24, 2014 - The Quebec federation of egg producers (FPOCQ) have launched the the province's first food product traceability system, allowing consumers to trace eggs from farm to fork. FULL STORY 

Oct. 3, 2013, Ottawa, ON - Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz has announced the appointment of Debra Etsell as a member of the Farm Products Council of Canada (FPCC) effective immediately and will be for a three year term.
“I’m confident that Ms. Etsell’s hands-on farming experience and passion for seeing the sector grow will be an asset to the Council’s work,” said Minister Ritz.

Debra Etsell has been in the agriculture industry for approximately 25 years and is the director of Coligny Hill Farms Ltd., an Abbotsford, British Columbia farm where she along with her husband and two sons, currently produce turkeys, hay and wine grapes. Her passion for agriculture has also led to working with various farm organizations - since 2007, she has been with the B.C. Blueberry Council and is currently its executive director. Etsell has also worked for the B.C. Agriculture Council as well as the B.C. Raspberry Industry Development Council.
The FPCC plays a key part in Canada's supply management system for poultry and eggs. Created in 1972, the Council supervises the operations of the four national marketing agencies that manage the supply of Canadian chicken, turkey, eggs and broiler hatching eggs. These agencies establish and allocate production quota, promote products, raise funds through levies and license marketers. In addition, the Council supervises the operation of the Canadian Beef Cattle Research, Market Development and Promotion Agency. Until 2009, the FPCC was known as the National Farm Products Council.
For more information about the FPCC, please visit
Jun. 10, 2013, Mississauga, ON - The Egg Farmers of Ontario (EFO) have decided to launch an electronic quota transfer system to provide a new and improved quota market mechanism for its farmers in 2014.

Beginning in early 2014, buyers and sellers of Ontario egg and pullet quota will conduct transfers through a transparent and accessible electronic transfer system rather than through direct private sales arrangements.

"The EFO board made the decision at its June meeting following extensive discussions and research into a variety of potential options including similar existing transfer methods already in place in British Columbia, Manitoba and Quebec," said EFO Chair Scott Graham.

"EFO will be consulting extensively with egg and pullet farmers over the next few months to design the details of a made-in-Ontario quota transfer system that works for our farmers," Graham added.

All Ontario egg and pullet quota holders were informed by mail and email on June 6 about the decision. They were also advised that, until the new quota transfer system is operating, the EFO board has instituted a moratorium on egg and pullet quota transfers to allow for an orderly implementation of the new process.

Graham said the decision to introduce an organized market for quota follows two years of discussion and consultations with farmers. "Discussions about potential ways to improve the method of transferring Ontario egg and pullet quotas have been underway since 2011," Graham said. "Farmers said the lack of opportunity and lack of information about private quota sales means they find it is becoming more difficult to purchase quota without having to go through egg and pullet industry service representatives."

Based on feedback from farmers during the last two years that Ontario needs a more effective market for quota transfers, the EFO board decided that farmers need a regularly-scheduled market where all buyers and sellers are guaranteed access to participate on fair and equal terms. "All buyers and sellers will benefit from the accessibility of an effective, organized market mechanism co-ordinated in a transparent way by a third-party organization," Graham said.

Now that the decision has been made to launch a new quota transfer system, EFO will be working with farmers to develop details of the new system, Graham said. "EFO will be consulting with egg and pullet farmers over the next few months to make sure the system works for our members," he said.  "To make this happen, the criteria surrounding the quota transfer system will be the subject of meetings to be held in late summer and early fall."

Oct. 1, 2012, Ottawa, ON - In the spirit of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and Parliamentary Secretary Pierre Lemieux are once again encouraging Canadians to generously donate to their local food banks. PS Lemieux joined Turkey Farmers of Canada Chair Mark Davies at the Ottawa Food Bank. Mr. Davies was on hand to present a $50,000 donation to Katharine Schmidt, Executive Director of Food Banks Canada.

"As Canadians, we should be thankful for the high-quality products produced by our turkey farmers and processors," said PS Lemieux. "By giving a helping hand to our rural food banks, together we can ensure that more families across Canada can celebrate Thanksgiving and enjoy delicious Canadian turkey."

This year marks the fourth consecutive year that Turkey Farmers of Canada has partnered with Food Banks Canada to raise money for rural food banks. The Turkey Farmers of Canada donation will be distributed to rural food banks all
across Canada and used to purchase whole turkeys or turkey products to distribute to their clients in need.

"Turkey Farmers of Canada is proud to partner with Food Banks Canada for a fourth year," said Mr. Davies. "We are fortunate to be able to support many rural food banks throughout Canada in their ongoing endeavour to provide turkeys to Canadian families again this Thanksgiving."

The Turkey Farmers of Canada is a national organization that has served as the voice of Canada's registered turkey farmers for over 36 years.

"We are honoured and grateful for the ongoing support of Turkey Farmers of Canada and its members who have provided the opportunity for rural food banks to share turkeys in communities across the country at Thanksgiving," said Ms. Schmidt. "Being able to help families in need keep this Canadian tradition will make a real difference to thousands of families."

Food Banks Canada is a national charitable organization representing the food bank community across Canada. The group depends on financial and gifts-in-kind support to reduce hunger in Canada by feeding people across the country.

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