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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

CAFO Propaganda?

The US Poultry & Egg Association("USPEA") is a lobbying organization that fronts for the chicken factory farms.  The CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) industry in the US has produced a series of videos, funded by the International Poultry Expo to explain the chicken factory operations typically used in the USA.  The Canadian systems are virtually the same.

Is this video best described as full disclosure in a fair and balanced manner, or industry propaganda?




Listening to Mr. Bredwell (is that his real name?  How appropriate!), I am half convinced by what he says that all is in order for CAFO's, and I can go back to sleep.  Sounds pretty good the way he explains it.

Unfortunately, while he describes the theory, the day to day practices leave a great deal to be desired.  In addition, we must think hard about what he doesn't say.

For example, CAFO's by their very nature, produce mountains of manure that must be disposed.  In addition, their ventilation systems spew polluted chicken factory bioactive dust to everybody down wind.  That means it contains bacteria, viruses, antibiotics, feces, and other contaminants; all over the neighbouring crops, people, and livestock.

I previously blogged about the resulting water pollution, illustrated by Delmarva Penninsula in the North-East USA.  There, chicken operations produce over 90% of the Nitrogen and Phosphorous pollution in land, streams, lakes, and estuaries (see Blog post Buried Alive in Chicken Manure).

What makes it difficult is that there is a grain of truth in everything that he says.  Only by hearing the full story for both sides is the public going to understand what to believe.

That takes a lot of time, patience, and effort; something that is in very short supply in everybody's busy lives.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Fatal Factory Farms

The investigative journalism TV show 60 Minutes Australia says the biggest animal welfare issue in Australia today is the raising of roasting chickens ("roast chook" in Australian lingo).

Whether the chicken factories are in Australia or Canada, they are more or less the same:  plain wrong and un-necessary.  Small flocks of pastured chicken are a clear alternative that's better; for you, the chicken that becomes your food, and the chicken during their lives.

There is a world-wide rejection of housing thousands of chickens in a factory barn, where they never feel grass  under their feet, never feel the gentle breezes in their feathers, nor see the sun in the blue sky.  The factory chicken farm is designed so the chickens waddle between the water spout and the feed bin, then sit down in their own manure, as they can't easily stand due to their extreme rate of growth that collapses their legs.

The factory chickens of today are designed to grow faster than cancer tumors.  Not only is it unhealthy for the chicken, it's unhealthy for the food that results from that explosive, exponential growth.

When the chickens grow too big, too quickly, they often have massive coronary heart attacks, and suddenly keel over dead.

If a heart attack doesn't get them, the toxic dust, fumes, heat, and humidity they are forced to live in every day of their tortured lives takes its toll.  The feathers on their bellies and rear end are literally burned off their bodies by the corrosive environment from which there is no escape.  If not their feathers, then the soles of their feet are blistered and scarred by the toxic ooze upon which they continuously walk.

Watch this 14 minute video, then decide if this is the system that is OK to produce food for you and your family.


Saturday, January 3, 2015

OMAFRA Minister Jeff Leal: Will he Rescue Small Flockers?

Honorable Jeff Leal,
Ontario Minister of
Agriculture, Food, & Rural
Affairs.  Will he rescue
Ontario's small flock
chicken farmers?

OMAFRA Minister Jeff Leal:  Will you Rescue Small Flockers?

If Minister Leal won't help, will you?   See below.

Small Flockers' appeal to the OMAFRA Appeals Tribunal needs to be rescued from the clanking, orthodox bureaucracy of the Appeal's Tribunal and the Chicken Supply Management system.

We have been through the mill and back trying to assert our rights and find a reasonable solution, an epic journey of 680 days (1.9 years) and counting, as follows:
  1. We filed our initial complaint with CFO on 2013/02/21.
  2. CFO refused to act
  3. Because CFO refused to act on our complaints, we asked OFPMC to intercede on our behalf.
  4. OFPMC refused to help small flockers, suggesting we file an appeal to the Tribunal.
  5. We filed an appeal with the OMAFRA Tribunal.
  6. CFO objected to our appeal, and asked that it be summarily dismissed, so we were forced to defend our appeal.
  7. The appeal wasn't dismissed, but the Tribunal decided we must narrow our scope and re-file our appeal.
  8. A revised appeal was submitted to the Tribunal.  This revised appeal was designed to fully comply with the Tribunal's previous decision, 
  9. CFO again objected to the re-stated appeal, again calling it trivial, frivolous, vexatious, and made in bad faith.
  10. We were again required to defend our appeal against being summarily dismissed.  This initial response wasn't enough to stop the CFO avalanche against us.
  11. The Tribunal notified us that they would dismiss our appeal unless we could provide just cause to allow it to continue.
  12. We re-doubled our efforts and responded why it would be unjust to dismiss our appeal
  13. Our appeal was dismissed by the Tribunal.
  14. We believe the Tribunal erred when it ignored all the case law that defended our position, so we asked that the Tribunal's decision be re-considered.
  15. During the review of the Tribunal's decision, they found that two out of three grounds for dismissing our appeal (frivolous and vexatious) were decided in error, so they were reversed and overturned by the Tribunal Review, but the third reason (bad faith) was allowed to stand.
  16. The Minister of Agriculture has the right and duty to intercede on all decisions by the Tribunal on behalf of the government and public policy issues.  Today, just 680 days (1.9 years) after our start, we now file a letter requesting OMAFRA's Minister Jeff Leal to review the Tribunal's decision, and intercede on our behalf, asking the Minister to order the Tribunal to hear our appeal on the Small Flock Regulation ON-Reg. 2484-2014
All we want is to recover the civil rights of Ontario's small flock chicken farmers.  We also hope that the appeal will help get more safe, affordable, nutritious, and locally grown chicken for all regions of Ontario.

Our appeal has been fought against and resisted every step of the way by Chicken Farmers of Ontario ("CFO").  Currently, CFO has a virtual monopoly for Ontario chicken, and uses their government granted regulatory powers to protect their monopoly and maximize their special interest profits.

Ontario consumers pay higher chicken prices (ie. 50% to 300% higher than the rest of the world), and have restricted choices in the types and varieties of chicken available in Ontario stores.

To me, the regulatory powers granted by the government to CFO should be used for the greater good of all Ontario citizens.  CFO doesn't see it that way.  CFO believes the governmental powers granted them are to help them move from multi-millionaire, to become billionaires.

Our letter to Minister Leal, requesting his review and intervention under Section 18 of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affair Act can be viewed here:

 SFPFC's Letter Requesting Minister Leal's Review and Intervention.

I have tried my best for almost two (2) years to advocate for the civil rights of small flock farmers.

Today, I need your help, or all of that effort will soon be lost.

I realize you are busy, just like me and everybody else.  I also realize that if you leave this page before taking the necessary actions right now, you are likely to get busy again, then forget to do it later, or will never find the time.

Therefore, help us right now.

I believe it's worth 2 minutes of your time, no matter how busy you are.

There are thousands of others who have no access to a computer, or will never find this posting and its request, but those thousands of Ontario citizens desperately need your help through the hope that this appeal can result in more locally grown, affordable chicken.

You can help rescue Ontario's small flockers by contacting Minister Leal, encouraging him to help Ontario and its small flockers, saying something similar to the following:

Dear Minister Leal:
I respectfully request that you review and intervene on the Tribunal's decision about the small flock quota exemption appeal (Black Vs. CFO), so as to require the OMAFRA Appeals Tribunal to hear this appeal in full on the issue of the Small Flock Exemption Regulation, ON-Reg. 2484-2014

Minister Leal's Contact Information

Phone: 416-326-3074

Fax: 416-326-3083

Email:  minister.omafra@ontario.ca

On-line Comments Form:   http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/about/comment.html

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Big Ag rides the Monopolistic Coattails of SM

Big Ag. billionaires ride the monopolistic coattails of Supply Management ("SM").

The Big Ag. Billionaires love riding the coattails of Supply Management. Like most
"Deals with the Devil", both parties benefit from the relationship in the short term.
Long term, losing your freedom and your soul has significant consequences.

The Big Ag. Billionaires love riding the coattails of Supply Management. Like most
"Deals with the Devil", both parties benefit from the relationship in the short term.
Long term, losing your freedom and your soul has significant consequences.

Anonymous comments posted on Better Farming recently postulated that retailers enjoy, benefit, and welcome the price stability of SM commodities (dairy, chicken, eggs, & turkey), as it enables steady profits while minimizing consumer anger at high food prices.  Do big grocery chains ride SM's coattails too?

Big retail grocery chains tend to use 4 basic commodities (bread, milk, eggs, chicken) as "loss leaders" in their advertising and advertising flyers, where they focus their price competition efforts.  This theory assumes that if a grocer has excellent prices on these 4 basic foods, customers flock to your grocery store, then you can charge prices as you please on all the other items on your shelves.

That may be somewhat true, but there are limits to the retail price gouging that can occur under this method.

Groceries have always been a high volume, low margin business, and highly competitive.  More recently, grocers complain that it has become even more cut throat and competitive.  Walmart selling food in Canada has been a major disruptive force in the marketplace.  Some experts feel that Walmart will terminate its grocery sales experiment within the next five years.     

A Feb. 2014 Financial Post article said,
"Quarterly earnings margins before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization and rent costs at Loblaw, Sobeys and Metro [the three largest grocery chains] have ranged from 6.5% to as high as 9% over the past two years."
I read with interest the recent article on Sobeys in Canadian Grocer.  Mr. Marc Poulin said healthier food products introduced into Sobeys over the past year are part of the reason for the recent profit jump at the stores.  I also note that the same article shared that "Analysts have said Sobeys faces fierce price competition in the grocery business."

On Empire Company Ltd.'s website (Empire is the parent company of Sobeys), it states, "Empire is committed to maximizing sustainable long-term shareholder value by supporting Sobeys’ purpose to help Canadians Eat Better, Feel Better and Do Better while also strengthening our related real estate investments."

Sobeys commitment sounds pretty good to me.  I hope that Sobeys follows through with their commitment.  I asked Empire's Board about that commitment on 2014/09/20 (ie. 100 days ago), and have not yet received a response from them.  They must still be thinking about it.

In 1996, researchers published their price modeling for the relationship  between farm and retail prices for 9 Canadian food staples. 
They found that
  • In 1986, Canada had 101 chicken processing plants.  The four largest processing firms, some of which operate multiple plants, account for at least fifty percent of total Canadian sales for meat (ie. low competition).  For chicken, the Canadian concentration ratio in 1982 was more than twice that in USA.
     
  • SM products sold at retail in Canada completely passed on all of the farm gate price increases to consumers (ie. a 1% increase in SM farm gate price increased retail store prices by 1%),
  • Non-SM foods usually passed on less than half of the farm gate price increase.
While Canada's chicken processor concentration in 1982 was double the US concentration, it has become even more concentrated by plant closures, mergers, and acquisitions.

That research confirms that it isn't just SM farmers who are solely responsible for the unfair gouging of consumers for SM commodities.  Those Big Ag. "friends" of SM who ride on the monopolistic coat tails of SM farmers also play a role in unfairly boosting prices of SM foods at retail stores.

It was reported to me earlier this year by the Meat Department Manager at a local grocery store that he was selling chicken at a price below their cost ($1.88 per lb., or $4.14/kg), which is roughly the same as US retail pricing.  I believe what he told me was true.  While it may not happen every day, it appears to happen at least sometimes that some food items are sold at retail prices that are at or below the retail store's cost.

Chicken Farmers of Ontario ("CFO") seems to have learned the "boiling frog" method of slow steady price inflation of 3.57%/yr as an insidious attack on consumers so as to maximize the profits of their multi-millionaire CFO members and their Big Ag friends. See Chicken Price Parity:  Will It Ever Come?

That "boiling frog" steady rate of price inflation for chicken may help retailers as well, just as the BF poster suggested.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Grinch Attacks Ontario: No Affordable Chicken for You

A review of the Tribunal's decision to reject our chicken appeal in Ontario has been completed.  The Tribunal's decision to refuse hearing our chicken appeal against Chicken Farmers of Ontario stands as-is, but the reasons change slightly.  That means:
  • No relief from the #ChickenMafia's oppression of Small Flock poultry farmers, and
     
  • No affordable chicken for Ontario consumers.


The OMAFRA Appeals Tribunal delivered their special gifts just in time for Christmas;
lumps of coal for 2 Christmas stockings.
   Click the image for full size version.

Quite a large lump of coal was delivered to the Christmas stockings of  15,500 small flock poultry farmers of Ontario.

Unfortunately, 13.6 million consumers in Ontario get a similar lump of coal dropped into their Christmas stocking too.  Canadians pay 50% to 300% more for chicken than what the rest of the world pays; thanks to the #ChickenMafia and their self-serving rules to protect their chicken monopoly.

Chicken Farmers of Ontario ("CFO", members and leaders of the #ChickenMafia) operates their government created monopoly in favor of the 1,400 quota-holding chicken farmers in Ontario.

How is it that 1,400 quota-bearing chicken farmers can hold the entire province of Ontario hostage (all 13.6 million of us) with their self-serving rules that made these 1,400 people into millionaires, and may eventually allow them to become billionaires.  Quota-bearing chicken farmers are the highest paid farmers in Canada.

The 15,500 Small Flock chicken farmers in Ontario are small, independent, neighbourhood poultry farmers who are limited to raising no more than 300 chickens per year (enough to feed chicken to 10 people at the Canadian average rate of consumption in kg/yr).  Most Small Flockers grow less than half the permitted amount of chicken (due to the red tape, costs, and bureaucracy imposed on them by the #ChickenMafia).

The Tribunal previously decided to reject Small Flockers' chicken appeal as being frivolous, vexatious, and made in bad faith.  The Tribunal called Small Flockers out with three strikes in a row (see Blog posting Case Dismissed: The Appeal Tribunal has Spoken ).

On Oct. 24, 2014 a request was made, that the Tribunal's appeal decision be reviewed and confirmed (see Request for Reconsideration

After waiting 61 days, we now have the Tribunal's final answer, delivered on Christmas Eve.  The Review decided that the appeal stands as-is, but the reasons for refusing the appeal have been changed slightly.

Previously, the Tribunal had ruled that this appeal was frivolous, vexatious, and made in bad faith. Any one of those three deadly decisions was enough to kill the appeal dead.  The Tribunal decided to brand the appeal with all three allegations, for good measure.

With zombies, "double tapping" (ie. killing twice) helps to ensure the zombie never gets up again.  Apparently, the subject matter of this appeal was such a menace to the #ChickenMafia, the Tribunal felt it required triple-tapping to ensure the appeal was dead, DEAD, DEAD.

Contrary to the Tribunal, the Review decided there was insufficient evidence to support an accusation of being "frivolous".  The Review also found that calling the appeal "vexatious" was going too far.  Both of these two allegations were rejected by the Review process.

However, the Review confirmed the decision that the appeal was acting as an abuse of the Tribunal's processes, and/or in bad faith.  That was enough to continue rejecting this appeal.  As far as the Tribunal is concerned, this chicken appeal is permanently dead.

At this point, Ontario's Minister of Agriculture can review the Tribunal's decision in the next 30 days; rejecting it, or accepting it, or substituting the Minister's decision in place of the Tribunal's decision.

If turned down by OMAFRA's Minister, the Small Flockers' last chance is through a Judicial Review.

I am no lawyer, but it seemed to me that the appeal (and the request to review) presented some solid case law in support of Small Flockers' search for the restoration of their civil rights, and affordable chicken for the citizens of Ontario.  To twist that into a poorly substantiated allegation of frivolous and vexatious meant the Tribunal had gone way out on a limb, past the point of reasonable discretion which allowed the Tribunal to control its own processes.  It appears that the Review agreed; the Tribunal had gone too far, and the Tribunal was at significant risk of having their bias exposed and their decision overturned.  That could easily explain why they backed off during the review process.

As mentioned by the Tribunal's Vice Chair in his review decision, the case law was thin and scant for defining "bad faith".  Since "bad faith" is not well defined in the case law, the Tribunal had a wide latitude to define "bad faith" how they pleased; so they did.

The Tribunal accused Small Flockers of:
  • having significant animus towards the #ChickenMafia,
     
  • having a political manifesto, and
     
  • having a personal political agenda.
 The Tribunal used all three of these as sufficient reasons for judging bad faith and dismissing the Small Flocker's appeal.
As an analogy for clarification of Small Flockers rights and call for justice, I ask three questions:

  1. Did the Blacks in South Africa have a right and just animus towards the White Minority who persecuted the Blacks during Apartheid?
     
  2. Did the Blacks have a manifesto and personal political agenda under the ANC (African National Congress), for the restoration of their civil rights?
     
  3. Do the #ChickenMafia have animus towards Small Flockers, and a personal political agenda and manifesto to protect their monopoly at all costs?
Why are these reasons unacceptable and held against Small Flockers, but all three are OK for the #ChickenMafia? To me, this seems 1-sided and obviously biased in favor of the minority but powerful #ChickenMafia.
The lockers' review request raised a number of other reasons to reject the prior decision of the Tribunal.  The Review's decision mentioned these other reasons lockers requested be considered, indicating that the Review heard those additional complaints.  Any of these additional reasons could have breathed new life into this appeal if any of them had been accepted.  However, the review ignored all of these additional reasons from further consideration.  I wonder why?

The decision of the OMAFRA Tribunal Review is available here 

It appears that if the Tribunal gets its Christmas wish, the injured rights of Small Flockers, and the unaffordable chicken for all of Ontario will be denied.  Small Flockers will not enjoy their right to have their legitimate grievances heard in court.

Not only are Small Flockers rights trampled by the #ChickenMafia, the #ChickenMafia have convinced the OMAFRA Tribunal to protect the #ChickenMafia and their dirty deeds against Small Flockers.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Lies and more Lies. Will SM ever tell the truth?

Dave Janzen, Chairperson of Chicken Farmers of Canada ("CFC"), did an Op-Ed piece in the Ottawa Citizen on July 8, 2014.  It appears he was prompted by an opinion piece by Kate Heartfield of the Ottawa Citizen.

I have carefully read Kate's Op-Ed essay.  I agree with everything she said.

However, Mr. Janzen's response is: "Don't chicken out on Supply Management".  It seems he's afraid that both Kate's Op-Ed and the recent trade talks (TPP, EU, and others) are significant threats to the millionaire chicken farmers of Canada and their cozy feather bed called Supply Management ("SM").  Those threats prompted his Op-Ed response.

Maybe he's right about being under attack on two separate fronts, a dangerous position to be in.

Let's review what he said in defense of SM.

Mr. Janzen said "As a Canadian chicken farmer, I can assure her [Kate Heartfield] that supply management is alive and well and, frankly, should stay that way."

I agree that SM is alive, but is it "well"?  I have documented issue after issue of brain dead flatlining by CFC and its provincial counterparts, and the terrible toll inflicted on consumers and Small Flock chicken farmers.  It appears obvious that SM isn't well, it's dysfunctional.  Yet the millionaire chicken farmers continue to deny, avoid, and resist.  So sad.

Mr. Janzen said, "Supply management contributes more than $25 billion to Canada’s GDP every year, directly supporting more than 300,000 jobs, while ensuring robust growth for our fellow farmers in the livestock, oilseed and grain sectors."

I won't argue his statistics, but I do take exception to the invalid assumptions behind those statistics.  SM is big, on that we agree.  However, SM strangles the chicken industry in Canada by killing off any hope of significant chicken exports.  If SM didn't exist tomorrow, the Canadian chicken market would increase significantly.  Secondly, if SM didn't exist, or it let the non-SM system some freedom, those jobs and GDP would still continue, as Canadians would still want to buy and eat chicken.  So how does Janzen take credit for jobs and GDP that will exist whether or not SM exists?  That is a classic fallacious argument.

Janzen said, "For more than 40 years, this system has ensured the success of our country’s dairy and poultry industries by setting optimal production levels and ensuring fair returns for farmers."

It is almost 50 years that Canadian consumers have been chained to the wall in the SM dungeon.  When do we get paroled?  Murderers have shorter sentences than what we have to suffer.  It's been so long, it more than meets the definition of cruel and unusual punishment.

Janzen says they set "optimal production levels".  Check on CAMI Poultry in Burlington ON who can't get sufficient supply of chicken to meet the consumer's need for Hong Kong style chicken (see here, here, here, and here).  Have you tried buying pastured poultry?  Not available, except from a small flock farmer in the most part, but SM severely restrict small flockers from adequately serving this market.  SM doesn't want that pastured poultry market, but they won't let anybody else have it either.  That's greed and spite, through and through.

Janzen says "fair returns for farmers", but I have shown that his millionaire chicken farmer members got that way by gouging Canadians with bogus FCR charges for 10 years (see here), and premium profits, 21% higher than any other farmers in Canada, whether it's SM or non-SM (see here)

For 20 years, chicken prices have increased at 3.54%/yr,
regular as clockwork.  Does Mr. Janzen expect us to believe
that thousands of retailers from coast to coast are in a giant
conspiracy to regularly raise chicken prices as seen here?
Janzen said, "we do not set the price consumers pay at the stores – retailers do."  If it isn't SM millionaires who directly control retail chicken pricing, then it is being done by their friends or accomplices with their help and protection.  See the graph of retail chicken prices for the last 17 years (the data for 2012 - 2014 is similar, continuing the trend).  Just how dumb does Janzen think we are?  Pure propaganda!

Janzen says Canada's Federal government "fights for market access where Canadian products are in demand, while sustaining excellence at home for products that Canadians depend upon every day — including those provided under supply management."

Yes, it's a fight, because Canada's SM system puts us way out in left field compared to our trading partners.  Canada is the 2nd worst (only behind Japan, see here) for agricultural tariff barriers (as high as 285% to import chicken into Canada), and domestic subsidies for the government's friends in SM,. All of our trading partners are very upset with Canada on a chronic basis about Canada's crazy trade policies under SM.

Janzen claims "excellence".  Later on in his Op-Ed piece, Janzen states:

"Supply management assures Canadians that they can get a reliable supply of fresh, high-quality food at a reasonable price."
 
That's a joke!  Canadian chicken is mediocre at best, and getting worse all the time.  Our Canadian chicken is often contaminated with deadly bacteria and/or Superbugs (see here ).  Our Canadian chicken productivity (as measured by FCR Feed Conversion Ratio, the biggest single factor in determining chicken prices) is 25% worse than comparable chicken grown in New Zealand (see here ), and Canadians pay 50% to 300% more for our chicken than most others in the world.  Nothing but crappy lies by Janzen to fool the public.

I hereby challenge Janzen to a public debate of his spurious propaganda against the objective facts and true statistics; whenever and wherever.  Is there any national media channel willing to cover and air the debate?   I doubt he's foolish enough to accept the challenge.

Janzen said, "we are the world’s 15th largest importer of chicken. Indeed, we import more chicken than six of the TPP members — the United States, Peru, New Zealand, Australia, Brunei and Malaysia – combined! Year in and year out we are consistently the second- or third-most important market for US chicken exports."

Canada has the 6th largest economy in the world, but we're the 15th largest in chicken imports.  What does that tell you?  It's hard to get chicken imported into Canada.  Canada imports about 25% of our chicken from other countries, all done so it maximizes profits for the SM chicken farmers and their close friends.  Most of the chicken we import comes from USA, Peru, New Zealand, Australia, etc.  We import it because those countries don't have a crazy SM system that prevents them from exporting chicken.  Canada has a crazy SM system, so we hardly export any chicken to other countries (ie. we're in last place of the OECD nations, with just 1.4% market share for chicken exports, see here).  The countries Janzen lists generally don't import chicken because their domestic chicken farmers supply close to 100% of the domestic market, plus produce more chicken for lucrative exports.  Again, twisting the facts to make SM look better than it really is.  Lipstick on a pig.

Janzen said, "New Zealand is often cited as the poster child for free trade. But it does not allow a single chicken to be imported thanks to strategically designed non-tariff barriers — in this case, excessively restrictive, so-called “sanitary” rules." 

Perhaps Canada should learn from New Zealand.  Today, more than half of BC is under quarantine from a H5N2 bird flu outbreak that keeps spreading more and more.  The Federal government paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to SM chicken farmers so they could develop and implement bio-security systems to prevent these types of issues.  CFC blames wild ducks as carriers who infected the BC poultry farms.  However, the bio-security rules are supposed to ensure that domestic poultry are separated and protected from contact with wild birds.  Annual audits are supposed to be done on every poultry farm to ensure compliance on this issue.  How does CFC explain this outbreak of today, especially after it duplicates the last outbreak in BC in 2004, an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza H7N3 that affected about 1.3 million farm poultry birds; an unmitigated disaster.  New Zealand has worked hard to have no poultry diseases, unlike Canada.  That's typical of SM and Janzen to smear New Zealand's excellence as a negative event.

Janzen said, "Every country does what it can to keep its agriculture sectors viable. In most cases, that support comes in the form of massive government subsidies to farmers. Not so in supply management."

As mentioned previously, Canada is the 2nd worst for agricultural subsidies (Japan is the worst, US has significantly lower subsidies than Canada).  CFC and its SM cronies frequently claim they are 100% self-funded and no funding from the government, which he repeats here as well when Janzen said,

 "In Canada, farmers under supply management do not get a dime of subsidies.

As mentioned previously, Canada's SM chicken farmers received a government grant to develop and implement their bio-security system, and CFO received a huge grant from taxpayers' pockets so they could buy German software to help run their office ( see here).

So much for Janzen's SM fairy tales.  You can believe the truth of Janzen's propaganda, take your pick.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Imported Foods: Is Free or Fair Trade a Solution to Affordable Food?

Can Canada's Supply Management ("SM") system be replaced (or co-exist) with free trade or fair trade chicken?

There are small flock farmers in third world countries who would benefit from additional opportunities to sell their chicken, eggs, and other agricultural products.  Since Canadians pay one of the highest prices for SM products, likely these third world suppliers can produce those products far cheaper than Canadian suppliers.

I believe Canadians want more affordable food, provided it is safe, dependable, and nutritious.  I also believe that Canadians prefer to buy from and support Canadian producers, but are not prepared to be gouged in pricing, or held hostage so as to support Canadian suppliers.

In yesterday's Blog posting (see Import Chicken: Help the Poor in both Canada & the World? ), I presented Mr. Cline's research that says the poor, both the first world poor customers and the third world poor suppliers, would benefit from free trade in agriculture products.  Expensive, unaffordable food is regressive, as the poor have to pay a far greater percentage of their income to buy that food than what is paid by the rich.

If income taxes are adjusted based on an individual's income and wealth, why not food?

The Guardian in its Sept. 2008 article Free trade can mean the poor stay hungry challenges the agricultural free trade proposals of Mr. Cline.  This article presents evidence that the majority of the benefit from third world free trade is gained by the intermediaries and the 1st world suppliers of the 3rd world producers.  For example, asparagus from Peru for importation to the USA is presented:
"A hearing of the US Congress's Ways and Means committee in 2006 unintentionally provided one of the most succinct accounts of the problem I have come across. The Peruvian asparagus industry was up before the house to reassure representatives that any growth in imports to the US from Peru would be in US interests.

For every dollar spent by a US consumer on imported asparagus from Peru, 70 cents stayed in the US, the industry explained. The money goes not to Peruvian farmers but to US supermarkets and wholesalers, and to US shippers, distributors, importers, and storage owners. Just 30 cents stays in Peru. (The UK too imports most of its out-of-season asparagus from Peru.)

But Peru doesn't even get the full benefit of that 30 cents, because a large portion of the 30 cents Peru makes comes back to the US anyway: it is spent by Peruvians on US seed, US materials for processing, US fertiliser and US pesticides. US-based vegetable corporations, Del Monte and General Mills Green Giant, have been able to enjoy lower land values, cheap labour and low environmental costs by moving some of their production to Peru. The handful of corporations that dominate the global markets in seed, fertiliser, pesticides, trading, distribution and retailing take care of the rest.
Increased agricultural exports have indeed contributed to a growth in Peru's GDP, but the benefit to the poor of its population is hard to see."
One Ag. expert thinks that as soon as a WTO trade agreement is announced that allows for free trade agriculture imports, all of the multi-national billionaire Big Ag. companies will use huge amounts of cheap foreign money to buy the best farm land.  Next, they would build food production and processing systems in third world countries to export to their sister branch plants in Canada and elsewhere.

It is unclear if the third world poor would see any benefit.  Perhaps they would get slave labor wages working in those new farms and food processing plants.

If the supply chain can get free trade food from third world sources at a small fraction of domestic sources, their profits magnify greatly if they can sell at the same domestic price.  Since Big Ag. tightly controls the domestic food distribution system in an oligopoly, there is little competition, so there is no significant downward force on domestic retail prices.

Therefore, as long as Big Ag. has tight control of the food distribution systems, there is likely marginal benefits from agricultural free trade, neither for the domestic poor nor the third world poor.

So what is the solution?

Can "Fair Trade" be better than "Free Trade" ?

Perhaps Small Flockers in each domestic market are the best answers.




Monday, December 15, 2014

Import Chicken: Help the Poor in both Canada & the World?

Some experts think the best way to help the poor, both in Canada and around the world, is to allow free trade in agricultural products to occur.  Supply Management is the worst offender to this goal, and is therefore a prime target for change.

In a recent Blog posting SM is Dead: Mulroney's Trial Balloon, or Loose Cannon?, I raised the question about Mulroney's meaning and purpose on his suggestion to end Supply Management in Canada.  In the news media reporting on Mulroney's speech, it also said,

"...those in favour of reaching a deal [ie. reducing agricultural subsidies and import barriers through free trade treaties] say it would be worth many times as much as all of the foreign aid to the world’s developing nations."

Not being an expert in international trade (who is?), I didn't understand what this meant.  Today, after re-reading the mainstream media reporting on Mulroney's speech, I noticed all of them included this cryptic comment, but nobody explained what it meant.  As I dug deeper and deeper, I finally developed a child-like understanding of this issue.  Perhaps I need to research this much more, but I will share what I have discovered so far.  If I am all wet, perhaps those in the know will see my obvious error, take pity, and guide me in the right direction.

It appears that this statement refers to a study done and book published in 2004 by William R. Cline (a US economist and a Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics) who wrote Trade Policy and Global Poverty

Mr. Cline seems to propose that the fastest and easiest way to reduce poverty on a world-wide basis is to allow free trade for agricultural products.  Of course, agriculture is the global-wide bastion of the most pernicious protectionism.

In support of Mr. Cline's theory, he presents the following evidence:

  1. World-wide poverty (ie. the "Poor") is generally defined as someone earning less that US$ 2.00 per day ($730/yr).

  2. There are 3 billion Poor in the world.  75% of these Poor live in a rural setting. [I assume that means people living in a rural setting of a developing nation have the means to grow food, and might be able to sell some of that food as an exportable product.]
  3. Figure 1:  Mr. Cline's datapoints showing the correlation
    between a developing country's GDP vs. the growth in
    their exports.  The lines were added by me.

  4. In developing countries, data from the 1980's and 1990's suggest that as their exports grow, local GDP grows also.  See Figure 1.

  5. That boost to the economies of developing nations via free trade could be as much as $200 Billion per year.  Half of that boost would be from free trade for agricultural commodities.  The other major sectors for boosting their economies would be from exporting textiles and apparel.

  6. Global free trade would raise the GDP by 1.5% to 2% directly.  The dynamic (ie. spin-off) effects would more than double the direct effect, so the total effect (ie. both direct and indirect) would be more than 4%.

  7. While the average effect on people would be 4%, the poorest of the poor are estimated to receive the biggest impact of free trade, estimated by Mr. Cline to be double of the average effect (ie. 8% for the Poor vs. 4% on average for all citizens in a developing country).

  8. In Mr. Cline's 2007 paper to a USDA conference, he states:   "...the broad empirical relationship between poverty and income shows that the “poverty elasticity” – the percent by which the number of poor declines for a 1 percent rise in their income– is about 2. So multiply once again by 2 and you get a total of 16 percent reduction in the number of poor. Apply that to 300 million [sic, appear he meant 3 Billion] in poverty and you get about 500 million reduction in global poverty."  Therefore, Mr. Cline concludes that free trade would raise the income of Poor people sufficiently to remove 500 million people from the poorest category (ie. earn $2.00/day or less).

  9. Free trade for agriculture is essential to achieving these positive effects for the world's poor.  See Figure 2.  WTO defines ag. subsidies as colour-coded boxes, similar to traffic light colours (red= prohibited, amber= caution or subsidies that are to be reduced, green= OK in unlimited quantities, plus blue=amber with conditions that limit the quantities that farmers can produce.  The protectionism of Japan's farmers is legendary, estimated to be equivalent to an 82.1% import tariff when you count true tariffs (76.4%) and domestic subsidies (3.2%).  Canada is the 2nd worst villain in ag. tariffs and subsidies at 52.3%.  The EU is 46.4%, and the US is just 19.9%.  The weighted average for all industrialized nations is 36%.  No wonder Canada is in such huge trouble in trade talks with the US, EU, TPP, and WTO; we're 45% higher in ag. trade barriers than the world average for industrialized nations.

  10. Figure 2:   Mr. Cline's estimates of barriers to free
    trade in agricultural.  Japan is seen as the worst, with a
    total of 82.1% tariff-equivalent import barrier, with Canada
    in 2nd place of this Rogue's Gallery at 52.3% tariff-
    equivalent barrier to ag. imports from developing nations.
So that is Mr. Cline's theory in a nutshell.  I assume that is what was being referred to in the story about Mr. Mulroney's call for the end of SM when it said removing ag. subsidies and protectionism would have a greater effect than foreign aid.

In 2012, Canada spent $5.67 Billion on foreign aid according to CIDA's data, which is stingy when compared to our relative wealth and the aid by other OECD nations.  About 69% of Canada’s aid in 2012 was channeled through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), 9% through Finance Canada, and 8.2% through the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, while the International Development Research Center (IDRC) accounts for 3.5%.  About 33.4% of that aid went to Least Developed (or poorest) Countries, another 2.5% went to other Low Income Countries, and 16.8% went to Lower Middle Income countries (41% is not coded by income group). Africa received the highest share at almost 42%, followed by Asia (22%), and the Americas (17%).  Following nearly a decade of sustained increases, Canada's aid spending has stalled and is set to decline in the coming years.
About 69% of Canada’s aid in 2012 was channeled through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), about 9% through Finance Canada and 8.2% through the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, while the International Development Research Center (IDRC) accounts for 3.5%. - See more at: http://cidpnsi.ca/blog/portfolio/canadas-foreign-aid/#sthash.5R7LsQkW.dpuf

As a Small Flocker in Canada, there are a few issues of which I am concerned.

First, I have seen the jars of pickles on my local grocery store shelves that have been imported from India.  I have eaten some of those pickles, as they are significantly cheaper than N. American pickles and seem to have reasonable quality.  I also fret about "what is this world coming to" when Canadian pickle producers have permanently shut their doors, and we are now forced to import from elsewhere.  I assume I would feel equally conflicted about SM products of dairy, chicken, and eggs being imported into Canada at the expense of domestic production.

Secondly, the quality of N. American chicken is a disaster, with bacterial contamination (including superbugs), bad Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acid ratios, bad bird welfare habitats, etc.  I assume that 2nd and 3rd world imports might be significantly worse; witness the recent news reports of falsified species in fish imported from South-East Asia, melamine tainted milk in China, and many similar events. As an example of a disaster going someplace to happen, live US chicken was proposed to be exported to China, slaughtered in China, processed and further processed in China to create boxed chicken, then import those packaged chicken products back into the US with no review whatsoever of that entire international supply chain by USDA inspectors (see Blog posting COOL Blowback ).  Canadians need higher quality products, not lower.  Can we be assured of this quality if we are importing SM replacement products from the developing world?

Thirdly, I am cautious of Free Traders and others who pretend to be helping the poor, when in reality they are propaganda shills for Big Ag., the PTB ("Powers That Be"), the NWO ("New World Order"), and the 0.01%'ers.  Exactly who is this Mr. Cline?  CIC (Canadian International Council) seems to support Mr. Cline's research.  Is Mr. Cline a master manipulator, or a straight arrow?  For me, it's too soon to tell, but I am wary about trusting too quickly.

Fourthly, if SM will not yield any ground to domestic Small Flockers, I assume that international small flockers don't have a chance.  I would assume that the poorest of the poor would be small flockers in chicken, and small market gardeners in fruits and vegetables.

Fifthly, if WTO, TPP, and EU trade talks achieve agricultural free trade by some miracle, how long before Big Ag. moves in to their third world countries where they create a monopoly for themselves via unfair or predatory trade practices so as to steal the free trade opportunities away from those who need them most.

By slowly and carefully reducing Canada's import tariffs and subsidies to Canada's #ChickenMafia, I believe that would be beneficial to Canada's consumers and small flockers alike, and would eventually force Canada's #ChickenMafia to dramatically improve, or die.  However, is there a tariff level below which no Canadian chicken farmer can compete, and dropping import tariffs below this threshold will surely kill all the #ChickenMafia, and possibly even Canada's small flockers?  If yes, what is that critical tariff level?

A lot of questions, conflicts, and inconsistencies currently exist inside of me on these SM trade issues.  I assume each of you has a similar list.  These are complex issues, and we need to get them right the first time.  That is exactly why those acting against the best interests of the majority purposefully cloud the issues so as to protect their special interests.

Hopefully with additional study by myself and other, the mud will settle and we can see clearly on the best path to take.