Thursday, February 28, 2013

Playing Chicken with Ontario's Premier Wynne

Are the Small Flock Farmers playing chicken with Ontario's new Premier, Kathleen Wynne?

Premier Wynne has decided to take on the Ministry of Agriculture & Food ("OMAF") portfolio in addition to her duties as Premier.  That decision may be the acid test for defining the difference between the former regime of McGuinty, and the new Premier Wynne.

The Small Flockers didn't waste any time in ruffling the feathers of Premier Wynne by pressing their longstanding issues with the new Minister of OMAF.

One Small Flocker, Glenn Black from Providence Bay Manitoulin Island said,

"Premier Wynne stated that the rural and farming communities need to be listened to, and that their voices count.  We take her at her word.  Now is Premier Wynne's opportunity to demonstrate her solidarity with that community, as well as all the consumers of poultry in Ontario.  Now is the time to act."

There are over 13,000 Small Flock Chicken Farmers in Ontario.  Under Ontario's Supply Management system, they are only permitted to raise up to 300 meat birds per year.  The Small Flockers are asking that this limit be raised to 2,000 birds, and to be given back the right to raise, slaughter, and sell their poultry from their farm gate.  Farm gate meat sales were banned in 2005 unless those birds were slaughtered and inspected by a government licensed abattoir.  Many areas of Ontario have no government licensed abattoir that processes poultry, thereby placing them in a Catch-22, shutting down the farmer's opportunity to raise a flock and earn a living.

Various food banks and "Eat Local" food advocacy groups want more locally grown foods such as poultry to be available.  Small Flock Farmers, spread far and wide throughout Ontario, meet that definition, and are ready to serve that need for locally grown food.  Practical Farmers of Ontario, a family farm advocacy group, is also supporting these efforts.

On behalf of himself and all Small Flock Poultry farmers, Glenn Black has sent a letter to Premier Wynne detailing how farm-gate poultry sales can occur, while minimizing any food safety risks.  This farmer's group believes that farm gate poultry sales will offer chicken to Ontario citizens that is equal or better quality and food safety than what is currently available in grocery stores.

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