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Processor dispute continues


March 4, 2011
By Jim Knisely

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March 4, 2011 – The local media are calling it the New Brunswick
"chicken war."
It is a war over chicken processing between Nadeau Poultry (owned by
Maple Lodge Farms), which operates the only processing plant in the
province, and Groupe Westco, which controls much of the province's
broiler production and is proposing to build a new processing plant
with its partner Olymel.

March 4, 2011 – The local media are calling it the New Brunswick "chicken war."
It is a war over chicken processing between Nadeau Poultry (owned by Maple Lodge Farms), which operates the only processing plant in the province, and Groupe Westco, which controls much of the province's broiler production and is proposing to build a new processing plant with its partner Olymel.

In the meantime, Westco has been bypassing the Nadeau plant and shipping its birds to Olymel's plant in Quebec for processing while Nadeau has been bringing in birds from Nova Scotia, a situation that could end when a new processing plant is built in Nova Scotia next year.
Nadeau has called on the provincial government to intervene and establish an independent agency to allocate the birds among processors but Westco wants the government to keep its hands off.
The provincial government has rejected the calls for a new agency, but has offered to act as a mediator to end the dispute.

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Agriculture Minister Mike Olscamp says, "What I'm trying to do is get these two groups together."
“From the beginning, this issue with chicken supply in New Brunswick has been between two companies that, for the past several years, have been at odds. The provincial government has done everything in its power to help these companies resolve the issue. All attempts by the provincial government have been legally challenged and struck down by the courts. We must respect those legal decisions," he says.

Nadeau disagrees. Maple Lodge Farms CEO Michael Burrows says the government is ducking its responsibility when it describes the breakdown of the system as simply a "commercial dispute."
If the government proceeded properly, as other provinces have done, it has the tools legislate a fair solution.

"New Brunswick has failed in its legislative role as part of the Canada-wide system of supply management for chicken," Burrows says.

Meanwhile, Groupe Westco says producers should not be obligated by provincial legislation or regulation to ship to a certain processor.