By Dan WoolleyFeatures New Technology Production
This chairman has weathered his board through the “perfect storm”
His tenure as chairman of the Nova Scotia Turkey Producers Marketing
Board (NSTPMB) has lately been very challenging for Dave Young of
Bridgewater. Last year the NSTPMB members were compelled to suspend production and
de-populate their turkey barns, a decision, Young says, was driven
largely by events on “the processing side.”
His tenure as chairman of the Nova Scotia Turkey Producers Marketing Board (NSTPMB) has lately been very challenging for Dave Young of Bridgewater.
Last year the NSTPMB members were compelled to suspend production and de-populate their turkey barns, a decision, Young says, was driven largely by events on “the processing side.”
|Rough ride. It hasn’t been an easy couple of years or two for turkey production in Nova Scotia. ACA stopped turkey processing at its New Minas plant in the Annapolis Valley, and on a national level deli meat production was disrupted by Maple Leaf’s listeriosis outbreak, and the North American market was further depressed with the U.S. recession.
Provincially, ACA stopped turkey processing at its New Minas plant in the Annapolis Valley, he notes, while nationally Maple Leaf’s listeriosis outbreak disrupted its deli meat production, thereby depressing the Tom turkey market. Moreover, the North American market was also depressed with the U.S. recession.
The Perfect Storm
Young describes the adverse market for turkey as “the perfect storm,” observing, “It took a lot of oomph out of the industry all these things coming together.”
During their production shutdown, Nova Scotia turkey farmers, as members of the national supply management system, leased out their quota to Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick producers, he says.
Now, having found a new processor for their birds in Quebec and with assistance from other stakeholders in their industry, principally the hatcheries and feed companies, Nova Scotia turkey growers as members of Turkey Farmers of Canada have taken back their production allocation and no producer has exited the industry because of the market slump.
Young comments: “Unfortunately, it is not something we like to boast about. We have had this disruption before.”
History of Processing Woes
In 1998, Maple Leaf which had been Nova Scotia’s largest turkey processor, accounting for 66 per cent of provincial turkey production, stopped turkey processing at its plant in Canard in the Annapolis Valley. “At that time the national agency was very supportive and helped and allowed Nova Scotia to lease out its unused allocation out of province. Some producers shipped also to Quebec,” says Young.
Asked how he and his members feel about the current Nova Scotia processing situation, he responds: “That is a good question. We’re definitely concerned we don’t have a local processor for turkey. Measures are being taken diligently to ensure we do have a processing capability in the future.”
Nova Scotia has 20 turkey farmers, 15 of whom, including Young, also produce chicken. He grows between 780,000 – 790,000 kilograms of chicken annually and another 62,000 – 63,000 kilograms of turkey in the quota he shares with his brother.
Maritime farmers are probably the most diversified producers in the country, he says, adding many turkey growers produce other commodities such as cash crops and fruits with just one farmer involved solely in turkey production.
Asked how he sees the future for supply management for the feather industries, Young’s response is: “We feel we have strong support from the federal and provincial governments. Past and present they have been supportive; but at the end of the day it’s hard to predict what will happen politically.”
As to whether the turkey industry could survive without supply management, he replies: “I would love to have a crystal ball to answer that question. I hope we never have to find out and that it never happens.”
If it did, Young feels turkey production might shrink to a niche industry in just some of the provinces.
He looks at the state of some of the commodity groups, like pork or beef, which do not have supply management and comments: “I wish all of agriculture in Canada had some form of supply management.”
Young’s father was instrumental in the formation of, and was one of the first directors of the Nova Scotia Chicken Producers Marketing Board.
Young has a strong, personal tie to the poultry industry. He has been a poultry producer for 34 years in Bridgewater on Nova Scotia’s South Shore, growing up on his parent’s poultry farm which they started in 1958. It was after attending high school and vocational school that he began as a chicken producer.
He and his wife have four children, two of whom are in university and two of whom are in high school.
Young has been on the NSTPMB for 10 years, eight of them as chairman. He says it is too early to say if they will make it a third-generation family farm business.
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