Friday, October 31, 2014

Are Small Flockers Special &/or Arrogant?

Do Small Flockers need to admit to our arrogance, and our assumption that we're special and privileged?  Why do Small Flockers assume that our grievances are important enough to be considered for attention and solution?

Agri007 and Better Farming have both pointed out the upset felt by Restaurants Canada ("RC") at being snubbed by Ontario's Farm Product Marketing Commission ("OFPMC").  After decades of stonewalling and abuse by Chicken Farmers of Ontario ("CFO"), OFPMC is seeking input from all stakeholders about the current system for calculation Cost Of Production ("COP") for broiler chickens in Ontario.

While OFPMC has asked for input, why are they stonewalling Restaurants Canada and others on the historic data on the COP system, and the current proposals on the table?  It appears that OFPMC is asking for input because it is a politically correct step to take, but OFPMC really doesn't want the input, and won't use it to determine the COP solution eventually imposed on everybody.

Perhaps this is the same as Stalin asking for any comments and suggestions on how he might improve his performance at leader of USSR.  You must have a death wish if you raised you hand in that room.

Restaurants Canada represents more than 30,000 businesses (eg.  restaurants, bars, caterers, institutions and their suppliers) throughout Canada.  The members of RC have more than one million employees; 80,000 locations; and 18 million customers a day.  RC has been active for 70 years.  In other words, RC is big and important.  Perhaps they are bigger and more important than the #ChickenMafia.

Why then, is RC being ignored by OFPMC?

Can this be explained by #ChickenMafia being exclusively about chicken, and therefore their voice carries greater weight when it comes to COP for broiler chicken?  This exclusivity is contrasted with RC being a broad, multifaceted group where chicken is just one of hundreds of issues that face RC and its members?

RC has questioned the fairness of #ChickenMafia policies in the past.  In August 2013, RC sent a letter to OFPMC about the reduction in the FCR (Feed Conversion Ratio) imposed on CFO and their chicken monopoly. That letter doesn't seem to have been answered by OFPMC in any substantial manner.  OFPMC is taking a hands-off, laissez-faire approach, letting CFO do as they please.

In RC's 2013 survey of restaurant menu trends, locally produced white meat, organic poultry, and free-range poultry were all top issues in the latest trends.  Sounds like Small Flockers may have many things in common with RC and its members.  Of course, #ChickenMafia can't discuss any of those RC issues, as the #ChickenMafia fall far short on serving any of those demands by RC's customers.

If RC gets stonewalled and ignored by OFPMC and others in the #ChickenMafia, is it any wonder that I and Small Flockers' plight gets the cold shoulder from the #ChickenMafia?

If RC is ignored and dismissed, do Small Flockers assume that they are a higher priority?  Is this proof that Small Flockers are as arrogant as the #ChickenMafia?

No, I don't believe Small Flockers are special.  Just because Small Flockers are small and just 1.5 years old, doesn't mean we need to abandon our cause.

Yes, Small Flockers case is close to impossible.  All great struggles are near impossible at first.  That's what makes them a "great struggle".

Small Flockers need to be patient, for this unfair, unjust, illegal stripping away of our rights and freedoms will not be solved in the short term.  We need extreme stamina.

RC's Dave Barlow spent more than 10 years fighting against the unfair and disabling Supply Management Systems for chicken and dairy, finally making progress with access to TRQ chicken and lower tariff cheese.  Can Small Flockers expect faster response to our needs?  I doubt it.

Our cause, like RC's related cause, is just.  That is why the #ChickenMafia feels they must deny, distract, dissuade, and deter all complaints and questions against SM.  If one threat is allowed to be seen and then pulled, the entire SM garment will unravel and disappear before our eyes.  The #ChickenMafia would be standing naked before us, soon scoffed at and ridiculed for its scrawny chicken legs.

Everything must be resisted, attacked, or ignored, or the #ChickenMafia risk everything.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Mega Manure Measurement

Chesapeake Bay is badly polluted from the phosphorous and nitrogen from mega factory chicken farms.  Over 20% of those farms have failed to disclose what they did with their chicken manure, contrary to state law.

Now, Maryland is fining these arrogant and non-compliant CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) for chicken in the North East United States.

The Baltimore Sun reports:

Since July 1, the Maryland Department of the Environment has issued notices of violation to 104 of the state's 574 "animal feeding operations." Those are farms that are regulated like factories because of the large volumes of manure generated by raising 37,500 or more birds at a time.

In a previous Blog posting, I explained how bad this pollution  has been (see Buried Alive In Chicken Manure).  CAFO chicken farms produce 94% of all nitrogen pollution in streams and lakes of SDelmar Penninsula, and Chesapeake Bay.

In Ontario, Section 15.(2) under O. Reg. 267-03 of the Nutrient Management Act requires a Nutrient Management Plan if your farm:
  • produces 300 or more nutrient units;
  • Is within 100 meters of a municipal potable water well;
  • produces 5 or more NU`s and you apply for a building permit
Layer chickens are 150 birds per NU.  This means layer farms with more than 45,000 layers must have a Mutrient Management Plan. 

Broilers are from 100 to 351 birds per NU (12-week to 8-week grow cycle).  Therefore the smallest broiler farm that must prepare a Nutrient Management Plan is as low as 300,000 broilers.  Quota-bearing chicken farms produced about 192.7 Million birds per year in 2013. The average quota chicken farm raises 187,813 birds per year.  The smallest available quota farm CFO permits without special permission has 14,000 quota units, so with 6.5 grow cycles per year, the minimum factory farmed foul is 91,000 chickens per year.

Based on the previous estimates I made on the Gorillas in the Ontario chicken coops, there is about 71 chicken farmers in Ontario who must have a Nutrient Management Plan (ie. just 7% of the 1,013 quota-based mega chicken farms in Ontario).  This is half of the number of farms in the largest production class, as the median quota units is about the threshold value for the NMP (Nutrient Management Plan).

So if US mega farms are the leading culprit in nitrogen pollution, and 93% of Ontario chicken farms get an exemption on nutrient management, guess how bad the chicken nitrogen pollution is in Ontario?

With 93% of chicken farms with a nutrient management exemption, we are flying blind.  We will know we have a problem when it is too late; the damage will have already occurred when we realize the problem for the first time.  These nutrient management exemptions are obviously in the short term best interest of the mega chicken farmers.

Is this truly in the public's best interest? 

Monday, October 27, 2014

100,000 Visitors Can't Be Wrong

Today, we crossed a significant milestone, with 100,000 pageviews by our world-wide visitors.

Small Flockers' Blog has received more than 100,000 visits since its inception on Feb. 28, 2013
While Canadian visitors have been continuously in the lead here, there have been others who came from more than 136 different countries.  All of these visitors came here because they were intrigued, or curious, or concerned.

Yellow dots represent 1 or more visitors, from more than 136
countries around the world.

All of these visitors were exposed to Canada's appalling third world conditions in the Supply Management ("SM") food supply systems, and the terrible consequences for Canadians.

Of those who came to this Blog, most considered,  some believed, a few scoffed.  A very few denied, became angry, and attempted to shoot the messenger.

While the response to this Blog varied, we have tried to keep to a consistent, balanced voice of reason that is committed to the long term goals and needs of Small Flock poultry farmers and Canadians.

This is not a struggle that will be achieved in a few days.

The forces of Supply Management are strong; entrenched insidious tentacles have grown stronger during this 50 year infestation.  The #ChickenMafia, just one of the branches of SM, have paid friends, lobbyists, and well spread graft everywhere.  Riding on the SM bandwagon is very lucrative for the friends of SM.  Mercenary monies helps ensure loyalty by the few who receive the graft.

However, SM is doomed to fail eventually.  SM depends upon providing significant economic benefits to a few, at the disadvantage and increased cost to everybody else.  As the cost burden of SM grows more and more, and people are economically squeezed more and more, the system will eventually reach a breaking point.  The majority will soon be unwilling or unable to continue paying the SM premium prices for the questionable quality of the goods produced.

Sooner or later, the SM system will fail.

The role of this Blog is to hasten the process, and prepare an alternative system to better serve the people of Canada.

Small Flockers are up to the challenge, once we are given the opportunity to perform.

Will you help our cause?  Why not do 1 or more of the following:

  • Pick one of our postings, and send it to your friends with your personal comments on why it is your favorite Blog posting.

  • Become a member of SFPFC

  • Make a donation to SFPFC to help our cause

  • Write to your MP and MPP to tell them what you think.

  • Invite SFPFC to come speak to your group, your friends, your church congregation, or at your community hall.  We'd like to share the research we have done and recommend solutions that you can support and/or implement locally for safe, nutritious, locally grown, affordable food for your neighbourhood, community, or city.  If SFPFC isn't presenting in person, then by high speed Internet Web meeting, or we can provide you with the presentation that you show to others on our behalf.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Request for Re-Consideration

OMAFRA Appeals Tribunal previously decided to summarily dismiss our appeal before it was heard.  We have now filed a written request within the 30 day deadline, asking the Tribunal to re-consider its decision to summarily dismiss our appeal.

This is somewhat of an act of desperation.  It is unclear if a Tribunal is able to self-correct any errors that it may create from time to time.  In this case, that system of correction will be put to the test.

I complain about:
  • The lack of clarity, and the numerous ambiguities throughout the decision.
  • The silence of the Tribunal on the key case law that is relied upon.  Did the Tribunal agree with these relevant case law?  Do they feel bound by it, that their decisions must comply and follow the case law established by higher courts of law, up to and including the Supreme Court of Canada, or can they safely ignore these cases, and strike out on their own path?  I believe the Tribunal should have commented on each case relied upon, saying how the Tribunal interprets that case, and how the Tribunal applies it to this case.  Note that I, as Appellant, was the only one to use and refer to any case law.  Perhaps that is why the Tribunal ignored the case law.
  • Similar to the case law, I made a number of arguments and explanations to explain and justify my positions.  All or most of these were silently ignored by the Tribunal.  I wonder why?  I believe the Tribunal should have provided reasons why they ignored or disagreed with those arguments, or why they were insufficient to convince the Tribunal to adopt my position.
  • The Tribunal is supposed to decide all the issues before it.  There were a number of issues and motions that I made that were not decided.  Some of those motions could have cured the alleged defects that the Tribunal complained about.  Rather than considering those motions, the Tribunal ignored them.  I want to know why those motions were not considered.
  • How the punishment doesn't fit the alleged offense(s).  The Tribunal has used the legal equivalent to the nuclear bomb to swat a pesky fly.  The Tribunal said they feared that I would use this appeal as a toe-hold to attack the entire Supply Management system.  It seems I am punished for what I might do, rather than what I have actually done, or what I should have done in the past.  This is tantamount to thought police, or pre-crime punishment as in the movie Minority Report. The Tribunal says they are in control of their Tribunal.  Then let them control their process during the hearing of my appeal, so their fear isn't realized.  However, let the appeal proceed on the proper hearing about the illegal and unjust  stripping away of the rights and freedoms of Small Flockers by the out-of-control CFO.
  • Reasonable apprehension of bias against one of the Tribunal's panel members, and the acquiescence or abdication or demurring of the other two panel members, instead of stepping in and helping prevent or correct these obvious biases and unfair actions against our appeal.
  • Other issues
So what do you think happens next?  Will the Tribunal be able to self-correct its flawed processes?  Will we have to proceed to the second-last step in this tortuous path to justice?

Read our request for the Tribunal's re-consideration of our valid complaints against CFO and the #ChickenMafia here:

Request for Re-consideration 78.47 kB 14 pages  

For the record, here is our Blog posting on the Tribunal's decision where they refuse to hear our appeal

Case Dismissed: The Appeal Tribunal has Spoken

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Request Tribunal's Reconsideration

I am planning to request the Tribunal to re-consider its decision to dismiss my appeal as frivolous, vexatious, and bad faith.

The Tribunal ruled on Sept. 24th, 2014 that my appeal for the rights and freedoms of Small Flockers would be summarily dismissed before any of the issues could come to trial (see Blog posting  Case Dismissed: The Appeal Tribunal has Spoken).

I have just finished the draft, and look forward to your feedback and suggestions to improve this draft before submission to the OMAFRA Appeals Tribunal.  Here is the draft:

Request for Re-Consideration  16 pages   49.8 kB

I have until close of business on Friday Oct. 24th to get it submitted, so we don't have much time.

I appreciate your effort to find the time to carefully read it and share your ideas.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Trouble with Antibiotics

PBS Frontline has done a hard hitting documentary on the risks and costs associated with excessive and improper use of antibiotics.

Women in Flagstaff AZ were showing up at Doctor's offices and hospital Emergency Rooms with urinary tract infections ("UTI") that were not easily cured.  The infections were resistant to multiple antibiotics.  When scientists looked at the proximity between those women and CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) for pork, they found a significant correlation.

If you lived near a CAFO, you had a high likelihood of developing a drug-resistant UTI.

Drug resistant UTI's take significantly longer to cure.  While searching for the right antibiotic by lab tests, the infection engulfs the bladder, and starts its nasty work on the kidneys.  At the kidneys, the bacteria soon crosses over to the blood, often leading to septicemia.  That's when you have a significant risk of quickly dying.

To confirm the link, raw meat samples were collected from local grocery stores over a 1 year period.  Those samples were tested for bacteria, and identified by their DNA sequencing.  Samples of the UTI infectious agents sampled from the women's UTI's were also sequenced.  The scientists soon discovered more than 100 matches of the DNA fingerprints between the grocery store meats and the women's drug resistant UTI's.

Meat industry spokespersons and lobbyists said this DNA matching between grocery store meat and UTI's was mere coincidence, or suggested that nobody really knows how the women got those infections, nor how the meat came to have similar bacteria, and this was inconclusive evidence.

When PBS put those statements before the scientists who found the correlaation, the lobbyists' propaganda was soundly rejected.  The scientists said all the other possible explanations are vastly improbable.  The women likely shop for the meat, the meat is contaminated with drug-resistant bacteria, the women become contaminated from the meat, and eventually, a UTI occurs.

Pretty simple explanation of the scientists' data.  Occum's Razor seems to apply, and the scientists' explanation seems to pass.

The evidence of the cost and consequences from improper use of antibiotics on farms is growing every day.  How long will the strong farming lobby be able to resist and deny the risks they create for the general public?

In the second part, we see the scary story of a hospital having an outbreak of a Superbug infection at an Intensive Care Unit ("ICU").  Many patients died during the 6 months that they valiantly fought to get rid of their uninvited, deadly guest.

Watch and learn from PBS' documentary:  The Trouble with Antibiotics

SM Screws the Poor

Another study has found that Canada's Supply Management is a regressive policy which hurts the poor significantly more than the rich.  Canadians in major Canadian cities are forced to pay up to 69% more for whole chickens that the nearby US cities.

Canadian Public Policy ("CPP") has accepted the manuscript of Ryan Cardwell, Chad Lawley and Di Xiang; all Professors of Economics, Department of Agribusiness and Agricultural Economics at the University of Manitoba.  That journal is expected to come out in December 2014.  In the interim, the Winnipeg Free Press has summarized the soon to be published paper.

Ontario Farmer added:
"They say the price differences amount to 2.3 per cent of the annual income of Canada’s poor people, but only half of one per cent of annual income for the rich.
This means supply management is what economists call a 'regressive' government policy, hitting the poor harder than the rich."
Whole chickens should be ubiquitous, the lowest common denominator, the primary resource from which all other chicken products are derived.  As such, it should be the cheapest, generic form of chicken.  How do we explain that what should be the cheapest, generic form of chicken has a 69% price differential between Canada and US, just on the other side of the border?

The SM boys are quick to shoot holes in the papers data and arguments.  For example, the #CHickenMafia claim that SM has been unfairly singled out, for no matter what the poor buy, it will consume a larger portion of their available income.

That is the reason I took a different approach.  Rather than comparing the rich to the poor, I compared each strata to themselves over time.  Chicken has become up to 31.7% less affordable for minimum wage earners between 1995 and 2005 (see SFPFC's Blog Posting "Unaffordable Chicken In Ontario" ).  Notice that the SM boys haven't attacked that sad statistic because there is no easy method to dismiss.  I'm sure the #ChickenMafia research labs are toiling night and day to find a propaganda solution to that sad fact that I have uncovered.  In the interim, it exposes the Supply Management System for what it is; a method to make a few millionaires from the price gouging paid by all Canadians.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Skeptics Live Forever

There are skeptics and deniers of strong scientific evidence located everywhere.  Supply Management ("SM") is no exception.

How long will supporters of Canada's
Supply Management stick their heads
in the sand to avoid hearing and seeing
the truth?
You don't have to be the first person to believe every rumor that comes your way.  That is the definition of being gullible and naive.

However, there comes a time when the evidence mounts and mounts to a point that continuing to deny borders on insanity.  That is what scientists call Cognitive Dissonance:
In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values.
Leon Festinger's theory of cognitive dissonance focuses on how humans strive for internal consistency. When inconsistency (dissonance) is experienced, individuals tend to become psychologically uncomfortable and are motivated to attempt to reduce this dissonance, as well as actively avoiding situations and information which are likely to increase it.
 How does this apply to Canada's Supply Management System?  It appears that we have not yet reached a state of Cognitive Dissonance for Supply Management in Canada.

Go back to sleep, it's not yet time to wake up!

To prepare for the awakening (or to hasten its arrival), I have presented evidence suggesting there are 2.7 deaths per year of Canadians that are caused by SM chicken contaminated by salmonella that is regularly sold at retail stores in Canada (see SFPFC's Blog Posting 2.7 Canadians Die Each Year from SM's Contaminated Chicken   and discussions about this evidence on Better Farming.

Those 2.7 deaths/yr from Canadian SM chicken was based upon both US and Canadian data.  I have openly declared from the very beginning my use of US data due to the lack of Canadian data.  Not everything is identical in both US and Canada, but they are often similar.  Until we have the necessary data for Canada, the US data can help us estimate the likely effects and risks on a qualitative or approximate basis.

In spite of this, the skeptics have totally rejected all evidence against SM's questionable methods as useless. It appears that the skeptics feel that SM Canadian chicken is perfect, the best in the world, and are unwilling to consider any suggestion to the contrary.

I agree that there is some room for doubt in these food safety risk assessments; there always will be.  However, there is a concept called "Precautionary Principle", first developed in Germany in the 1980's.

As to application of the Precautionary Principle for ensuring the health of Canadians, Health Canada says:
 "The Health Canada Decision Making Framework treats the concept of precaution as pervasive. As such it does not require extremes in the actions taken. Instead, risk management strategies reflect the context and nature of the issue, including the urgency, scope and level of action required."
Shouldn't the Precautionary Principle also be applied to SM's practices?

There is also the principle of Occam's Razor, which says the best answer is usually the simplest answer with the fewest assumptions.

In spite of these two principles, there are those who still assume and believe in geocentrism (ie. the Earth is at the centre of our solar system, not the Sun).  This argument started around 2,000 BC and continues to today, over 4,000 years and counting.

Somehow, I don't think the SM debate will end any time soon.

There are also those skeptics who believe the Earth is flat (ie. not a globe, see Flat Earth Society)

DDT was seen as a wonderful pesticide for the first 14 years (1948 - 1962), but slowly the mounting scientific evidence suggested otherwise.

Other skeptics still insisted in sworn testimony before the US Congress in 1994 that the scientific proof was far from conclusive as to whether cigarette smoking caused lung cancer or addiction.  That was 38 years after Doll & Hill's study of British physicians in 1956 first offered scientific evidence of what was suspected for 400 years before that.

To be a skeptic is every individuals choice, to believe as they will.  Soon, SM Believers may be added to the deniers of other scientific evidence listed above.  We'll have to wait to see for sure.

Do you believe it is OK for the masses being doomed to suffer as long as there is at least one person left who chooses to deny the overwhelming body of evidence against SM?

I believe there is now sufficient scientific evidence to take action to improve SM chicken so as to reduce the risk and cost of this terrible system.

Further denial of the available scientific evidence delays the solution, and increases the risk and suffering for all.