Monday, June 16, 2014

LICO-Chicken = "Let them eat Cake"

"Let them eat cake" has been attributed to callous aristocracy who were insensitive to peasants spending more than 50% of their income on bread, helping launch the French Revolution and the rapid increase in the use of guillotines.  Is Chicken Farmers of Ontario and the rest of the SM Chicken Mafia saying the same today?

Low Income Cut-off ("LICO") is one of the measurements used by the government to define who is living in poverty.  You are living in poverty if your total annual income, expressed as $/yr, is less than LICO (whether that income is from gambling, lottery winnings, wages, government welfare, bank interest, clipping your bond coupons, or fixed retirement pension income).

With the inflation or deflation of retail prices (eg. housing, energy, food, etc.), LICO goes up or down accordingly.

Chicken prices have had almost a continuous rise in prices for over 20 years (see Blog Posting Chicken Price Parity: will it ever come?, going up an average of 3.54%/yr for more than 17 years.  If the income of the poor has not been rising as fast as the price of chicken, then the poor are feeling the squeeze of unaffordable food.  So we pose the important question:

Is chicken getting more affordable, or less affordable for the average Canadian, and someone who is subsisting at LICO?

Scrooge McDuck counting and playing with his gold coins
(also known to to done by members of the Chicken Mafia)
To find out, all we have to do is divide LICO by the average retail price of chicken.  This provides us with the number of kg. of chicken that a LICO-earning person can purchase per year.  If the kg/yr of LICO-chicken is decreasing over time, then chicken is becoming less and less affordable for someone living at the LICO threshold.

CFO, and the rest of the Chicken Mafia seem only interested in maximizing their personal profits.  It seems they are busy counting their gold coins, like Scrooge McDuck.  They don't know about nor understand LICO, and don't want to know.

I believe that since they received their government created quota for free, and have been delegated government powers to enforce their quota, they should be acting as a proper steward, working for the greater good of all Ontario citizens.

Unfortunately, it appears that CFO, their members, and the rest of the Chicken Mafia have a callous disregard for everybody except themselves.  Witness the data on LICO-chicken:

Figure 1:  The number of kg. per year of retail chicken that can be purchased by someone earning
at the Lower Income Cut-Off ("LICO") Poverty Line.  LICO-chicken has been dropping at 1.3%
per year, down a total of 16% during the last 14 years.  This means chicken is becoming less
and less affordable by the poor.
The data in Figure 1 is derived from Statistics Canada CANSIM Table 326-0012 and ON Ministry of Labour report on Minimum Wage
and Statistics Canada LICO data with Census Agglomeration for an individual living in a community of 30,000 to 99,999 people, before tax income.  The amount of chicken that can be purchased at retail stores in Ontario by someone earning at the LICO Poverty Line has dropped 16.3% in the last 14 years (1997 - 2011).

By way of chickens having the lowest FCR of all farmed animals (Feed Conversion Level, see The Chicken Mafia Exposed ), chicken should be the cheapest available meat.

If you cannot afford chicken, your poverty has forced you to become a vegetarian.

LICO is affected by many complex factors.  CFO and the Chicken Mafia contribute to, but do not control nor overly influence LICO.  However, CFO and the Chicken Mafia have direct control and supreme influence on the price of chicken, from the farm gate, all the way through to the retail meat counter.

Not only do CFO and the Chicken Mafia have the ability to control chicken prices, I believe they have the duty to control chicken prices on an on-going basis in the best interest of the citizens.  I believe CFO has that duty of responsibility for LICO-chicken as long as SM is allowed to continue in its present form.  If CFO continues to ignore LICO-chicken, doomsday for Ontario's chicken SM system may be far sooner than they would have dreamed possible.

Is CFO aware of this trend they created?  Does CFO care?

Did I just hear somebody within Chicken SM shout:
"Can't afford chicken?  Let them eat cake!"

Now that I have exposed CFO's negligence and callous disregard for the poor, will CFO study the matter, and assemble a plan to reverse the trend of LICO-chicken?

Will Ontario's Minister of Agriculture Kathleen Wynne order Ontario Farm Product Marketing Commission ("OFPMC") to consider LICO-chicken every time CFO tosses in another request to increase the farm gate price of chicken?

Under Ontario's Farm Products Marketing Act, CFO has been delegated sweeping, broad powers over everything within Ontario that is directly and indirectly associated with chicken.  For the most part, CFO continues to ignore and abdicate its authority over the chicken marketing and processing system beyond the delivery of chicken to the abattoirs.

Will CFO continue to ignore the impact of allowing the billionaire mega food corporations to extract the maximum profits that they please, making chicken less and less affordable for the poor and everybody else?

If CFO is unwilling or unable to act on LICO-chicken, will OFPMC order CFO to exercise the full scope of its delegated powers, so as to rein in the processors and distributors of chicken in Ontario?  

If CFO put their minds and efforts towards LICO-chicken, they should be able to achieve an improvement of 10%/yr in the kg/yr of chicken that a person living in poverty can afford.

While we are at it, why aren't all basic necessities of life judged in a similar manner by governments, as the yardstick we can all use to determine if our politicians and bureaucrats are earning their keep?

If life is more and more affordable for the poor, likely it is more affordable for everybody.

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