Canadian Poultry Magazine

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West Coast Poultrymen Request Price Support In Face of Rising Costs

January 1949

February 5, 2013
By D. Howes Secretary West Coast Poultrymen


The newly charted organization known as West Coast Poultrymen with headquarters in Burnaby, B.C. recently wrote Mr. J. G. Taggart, Chairman of the Prices Support Board, Ottawa, detailing how increased feed costs had put production costs out of line with returns from eggs. In Mr. Taggart’s reply he enclosed a copy of a letter he had written to J. C. McKenzie, secretary of the B.C. Poultry Industries Council that, he claimed, answered the letter from the West Coast Poultrymen. Unsatisfied with this, the newly formed organization again wrote the Ottawa official and forwarded a copy to the Canada Poultryman office for publication. The letter is reproduced herewith.

Burnaby, B.C.
January 21, 1949

J.G. Taggart Esq.
Acting Deputy Minister of Agriculture,
Ottawa, Ontario.

Dear Sir:

We are in receipt of your letter of December 18th, 1948, together with a copy of your letter to Mr. J. C. McKenzie dated December 15th, and wish to advise that this does not answer our enquiry of December 1st, re the increased cost in the price of feed.

In our letter we stated that prices of feeds had advanced in the past year as follows:


1947 1948 Increase
Wheat $46.00 $72.00 $26.00
Barley 54.00 56.00 2.00
Oats 53.00 56.00 3.00
Laying Mash 67.00 83.00 16.00

Further, in reply to your statement of November 23, 1948, “On the whole prices of feed grain, mill feeds and various other components of mixed feeds are somewhat lower in price than they were a year ago.” We are at a loss to understand your source of information because the price of mill feeds like wheat has advanced from $42.00 to $54.00 per ton in the past year. There was a slight drop in the exorbitant price of fish meal for a short time but the price of this important source of animal protein has again advanced to $175.00 a ton just slight below the previous high of $183.00 per ton. It looks, therefore, as if your conclusions were contrary to fact and that a re-examination of the situation should be made by your Department in order to learn more about a reasonable support price, which our poultrymen are asking at the present time.

Since wheat and wheat products form a large part of the poultry ration the large advances in the prices of these feeds in the past year have been responsible for increasing the cost of feeding a hen fully $1.00 a year. Thus a poultryman who is looking after 1,000 hens finds his feed bills increasing $1,000.00 a year in 1948-49 as compared to 1947. This is the reason that many our poultrymen are sending their hens to the meat market. As an example of this we have just learned that the Surrey Farmer’s Co-operative Association of Cloverdale have received over 14,000 hens this year up to January 15th as compared with 4,000 last year. Other killing plants give similar reports of heavy liquidation of flocks.

In your letter to Mr. McKenzie you refer to “a moderate downward trend in production in 1947”. There was a reduction in baby chick sales across Canada of over 20% and in British Columbia of more than 30% last year. The offerings to the Board September 1st to December 31, 1948 according to the latest government report have been 144,862 cases as compared with 514,478 cases last year. Does this indicate a moderate downward trend? If the present rate of decrease continues, British Columbia will have to import eggs next year. Meanwhile many poultry producers will have been forced out of business. These include a considerable number of Returned Men who are being assisted by the Government.

Regarding figures on costs from the University of British Columbia Survey of 1943 to 1945 you have failed to take into consideration in your calculations the fact that the average egg produced on a farm is not Grade A Large but approximately Medium since the eggs consist of Small, Pullets, Medium, Bloods, Dirties and Cracks and Large. You also omitted in your calculations such items as the increased cost of litter, labour, repairs, taxes and many other things that the poultry producer has to purchase in his business. There is another thing that is very important nowadays, and that is the increased cost of living for which you did not make any allowance but which the poultryman has to face.

The present price of 38 cents a dozen for Grade A Large and 36 cents for Medium provides little if any margin of profit for wages, and is forcing more poultrymen out of business every day. This price may be decreased further to 36 cents to meet the ridiculously low price in the 1949 British Contract.

We would ask why it was found necessary to sell eggs at such a low price to Great Britain? We know positively from a canvass of a large number of our members in several meetings held recently that the industry cannot be held together without a support price considerably above the present egg prices. We therefore urge again the need of implementing a support price of at least .05 cents above the present one to stabilize the industry.

(signed) D. Howes,
Secretary, West Coast Poultrymen,
Burnaby, B.C.