Thursday, January 30, 2014

SFPFC takes #ChickenMafia to Court over Bogus FCR

2014/02/16 Update:   Version #1 is now obsolete, superceded by Version #3 See SOC-Version #3

The Statement of Claim against the #ChickenMafia bogus FCR charges for the last 10 years is now completed and available for examination and comment (see: SFPFC's Statement of Claim ).

It was way back on Mar, 5, 2013 that I first Blogged about CFO's bogus FCR charges (see Bogus FCR takes $945 Million per year from Canadians )

Since then, it has been a subject that I have revisited many times:
Yikes!  When I look at all those postings, it's almost as if I was a broken record.

Well we have waited patiently in vane.  Nobody called, nobody apologized.  Now it's time for action.

If you have any ideas or suggestions to further improve our Statement of Claim, attach your comments, or contact me.

I will send a link to each of the proposed Defendants, seeking an out-of-court settlement.  If nobody responds to that, it's off to court we go.

*** Update #1 2014/02/15 ***

A new, improved version of our Statement of Claim has been released here

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Small Flockers Theme Song

We now have our Small Flockers' theme song, thanks to Kathryn Thomson.  Give it a watch & listen:

If you are inspired by the words and/or music, feel free to write a song, poem, or Op-Ed piece.  We will publish it here, as it's all good.  This could be the start or re-birth of your celebrity status.

On our Small Flockers' YouTube channel, the video is described as follows:

SFPFC thanks Kathryn Thomson, a talented lady who put great effort into writing and performing this protest song for Small Flock Poultry Farmers of Canada.

This protest song for Small Flock Poultry Farmers of Canada, tells about the oppressive #ChickenMafia and Supply Management in Canada.

Health Canada reports that as a national average, 7.6% of Canadian families can't afford the food they need to feed their families.  In Nunavut (Canada's Far North), it's 28% of families.  On First Nations reserves, it's between 33% to over 50%.

In spite of these sad statistics, the #ChickenMafia, backed and emboldened by their chicken monopoly gifted to them by Canada's Federal and Provincial governments, charge Canadians 300% more for chicken in Canada than the same chicken available from the US or internationally.

We have a rising tide of epidemic diseases in Canada, such as cancer, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis, high cholesterol, Metabolic Disease, Alzheimer's Disease, stroke, etc.  All of these diseases and others are caused or contributed to by poor nutrition.  Healthy, nutritious food has become so expensive, it is no longer affordable, so people are forced to buy high carbohydrate, less nutritious foods.

Many factory farmers maximize their profits by growing their birds twice as fast as was done 50 years ago.  They have achieved these faster growth and higher profits by feeding their birds arsenic, banned antibiotics, antihistamines, Prozac-like psychotropic drugs, caffeine, and Tylenol.  The meat and fat (especially Omega-3:Omega-6 fatty acid ratios in the chicken) have been mutated for maximum profit, regardless of the impact these selfish changes have had on the nutrition and food quality.

The chicken processing plants used by the #ChickenMafia regularly contaminate the chickens during their high speed slaughtering.  Government studies have regularly found 30% to 80% of the chickens on retail meat counters are contaminated by salmonella, listeria, campylobacter, E.coli, and other pathogens.  50% of these contaminations are by Superbugs, that have antibiotic drug resistance; likely due to the #ChickenMafia feeding the chickens banned antibiotics.

The #ChickenMafia get richer and richer, while Canadians suffer more and more from unsafe, unhealthy, and unaffordable food.

There are about 35,000 small flock poultry farmers in Canada, but only 2,700 #ChickenMafia factory farmers.  Those #ChickenMafia have about 99.97% of the Canadian chicken market, using their government granted powers to squeeze and oppress the Small Flockers to just 0.03% market share.

Small Flockers, located throughout Canada, want to supply safe, locally grown, nutritious, affordable food for their families, friends, neighbours, and their community.

What's wrong with that?

To find out more, visit our Blog:

Recycled Food

Are you buying recycled food at the grocery store?  Maybe you are, but nobody bothered to share the gory details with you.

When a grocery store buys meat from their supplier, it's a 1-way ticket.  Unlike potato chips and other similar products that get taken back by the manufacturer when they go stale, there is no returning of "stale" product to the abattoir.

That is why grocery stores have a Best Before Date on all packages of meat, and the butcher's assistant scans the meat counter every day looking for packages than are quickly approaching that deadline.  For quick sale before it expires, the Meat Dept. will often place a 25% off sticker, then a 50% off sticker on the unsold package.  If it still doesn't sell, then it is thrown out, or sent to the deli counter where it is cooked, sliced, and put into ready-to-eat sandwiches that are sold there.  For old chickens, they will be cooked on the store's deli rotisserie, then sold as hot, ready-to-eat roast chickens.  The Deli Counter helps reduce food waste, while giving the store an additional profit centre, without creating a food safety hazard.

However, things don't always go as planned or permitted under the food regulations.  I received an email a while ago from a gentleman who shared an experience of his friend with the recycling of spoiled chicken so it can be sold to unsuspecting consumers.  Here is what he said about the experience in a Pembroke ON grocery store:
"First day on the job at the grocery store he was asked to put the individual chickens on a plate and wrap it. The chickens came in big bags with a liquid slurry in it, he cut it open and the smell was awful. He went and got the head of the meat department to come and see. The head's response was that smell is normal and he filled the sink up with cold water and ice then he said we add JAVEX to kill the bacteria."

Of course, this "sanitizing of contaminated or spoiled chicken is similar to what many abattoirs do as well, except the abattoirs use  one or more of the following chemicals (according to Dr. ):   sulfuric acid, ammonium sulfate, copper sulfate, chlorine gas, sodium hypochlorite, acidified sodium chlorite, trisodium phosphate, chlorine dioxide, hypochlorous acid, peracetic acid, lactic acid, cetylpyridinium chloride, sodium acid sulfate, bromine, citric acid and HCL, sodium metasilicate, organic acids, acidified hypochlorous acid, Zentox, TOMCO, Zentox monochloramine, cetylpyridinium chloride, mixture of hydrochloric + citric + phosphoric acid (SteriFx or FreshFx), or electrolyzed oxidative water.

I assume they wash most of that tasty stuff off before they sell it to the retail store, but maybe they assume you like the added flavoring.  Who knows?

These types of spoiled meat surreptitious sanitizing behaviours have been reported previously in Canada and other jurisdiction (see ABC PrimeTime and Food Lion case.  Food Integrity Campaign ("FIC") was also involved with Food Lion and their alleged recycling of spoiled or tainted meat.  FIC reported that Food Lion's profits dropped 98% from 1992 to 1993 when these allegations were reported, and subsequently Food Lion "had to close 80 stores and cancel plans to open 80 more."

Fooling and abusing consumers has consequences.  I wonder if (or when) the Supply Management Mafia will come to realize this important fact.

Some or most  "Best Before" dates aren't binding upon retail stores.  Sometimes one retail store will sell their expired foods to salvage retail stores who specialize is selling date expired foods (See this Forbes article).  In the US, pre-packaged meats done under USDA inspection cannot have Best Before dates removed, nor changed.  The States of New York and Massachusetts  also prohibits these practices.  All other States are silent on this issue, except the general rules that meats must be wholesome, safe, and unadulterated.

US Food & Drug Administration says:
With the exception of infant formula, the laws that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) administers do not preclude the sale of food that is past the expiration date indicated on the label. FDA does not require food firms to place "expired by", "use by" or "best before" dates on food products. This information is entirely at the discretion of the manufacturer.
"A principle of U.S. food law is that foods in U.S. commerce must be wholesome and fit for consumption. A "best by", "use by" or expiration date does not relieve a firm from this obligation. A product that is dangerous to consumers would be subject to potential action by FDA to remove it from commerce regardless of any date printed on a label."
Under Regulations issued under Canada's Food and Drugs Act, pre-packaged food require a "Best Before" date if the shelf live is 90 days or less.  Foods that have sensitive nutritional requirements (eg. baby formula) must have expiry dates, must retain 90% or more of their nutritional potency at the expiry date, and cannot be sold beyond that date.

Canned meats generally have a 3 year Best Before date, but most manufacturers feel they are safe to eat indefinitely.   Many Canadian grocery stores have been found to have canned goods for up to 3 years beyond their Best Before date.

Alternatively to the Javex bath for poultry, red meats such as beef will soon go brown or grey as they age.  Consumers usually won't buy the meat when they show their age.  What is a Meat Dept. Manager to do when they have expensive roasts that nobody will buy?  Some open up the package, take a thin slice off of the end of the roast, thereby exposing a fresh, bright red surface, then re-package the roast, with nobody the wiser.
 Meats sold in Canada must have a "Packaged on" date, and the durable life of the meat (ie. Best Before date).  If a retailer re-packages meat, the new package must have the same dates as the previous package. A CFIA bulletin issued in March 2012 states that CFIA is aware that some retail stores are violating the re-packaging dating rules.

A June 2013 bulletin from CFIA discusses the use of CO (Carbon monoxide) gas to brighten up the colour of packaged meats, a recent trick added to the industry's bag of dirty tricks to fool consumers.

Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practice to deceive!

Sir Walter Scott, Marmion, Canto vi. Stanza 17.
Scottish author & novelist (1771 - 1832)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

NFU and the Family Farm

Yesterday, we Blogged about NFU and Supply Management using the National Farmers Union ("NFU") Statement of Purpose as a guide to where NFU stood on these important issues.

Today, we look at NFU's position on the family farm.

I recently received from a friend a copy of an NFU membership recruitment brochure that NFU sent out in January 2008.  In that brochure, NFU states:
The NFU is committed to:
  • preserving the family farm* as the cornerstone of the food system.
Then down below, the brochure clarifies "family farm":
* A family farm is an operation that produces food or other agricultural products and where the vast majority of labour, capital, and management are provided by family members.
(NFU National Convention, November, 2000)
OK, so far.  It would seem that the vast majority of Small Flockers would fit into the NFU definition.  That may be why the NFU lobbied for and supported the 2,000 bird Supply Management chicken quota exemption for Small Flockers.

It is interesting that the family farm is just the "cornerstone".  A cornerstone is the first stone laid when building a building, but it isn't the only stone.  There is only one cornerstone in a building, surrounded by thousands of other stones.  On a percentage basis, the cornerstone is merely ceremonial, like putting Granny at the head of the table every year for Christmas dinner.

Does this mean that NFU prefers to have the majority of food produced by local family farms, but until we achieve this goal, we may have to backfill the farm and food system with factory farms and corporate run mega-farms?

What exactly does NFU mean by this?

In the clarification statement from the Nov. 2000 convention, we get some additional info on the mindset of NFU.  What prompted the convention to address this clarification/  Were NFU staff and policies drift off what the members felt was the true meaning, and NFU members had to right the ship back on course?

I'd be interested in receiving comments and feedback from NFU members who were at the Nov. 2000 convention, or know the back story on this clarification.

The clarification says "vast majority".  Obviously, a majority is anything more than 50%, but what is a "vast majority"?  Is a "vast majority" 66%, 75%, 80%, or 90%, 95%, or 99%, or perhaps like Ivory Soap, they meant 99  44/100% (99.44%).  Again, what does NFU mean?

Is a serf placed on a farm by the great
and powerful Lord of the Manor (ie. a
multi-national agri-corp) meet NFU's
definition for a "Family Farm"
When they say capital, a farm that re-invests its profits back into the farm would obviously meet the criteria.  If the family mortgages themselves up to the hilt with bank or Farm Credit Canada loans or lines of credit, the family is owner in title only.  All those loans have hypothecation clauses, power of sale, foreclosure, demand notes, and similar fancy financialization clauses that would cause a migraine headache for Scrooge.  Miss one payment, and all may be lost.

Does that situation meet NFU's definition?

In some cases, the farmer is a mere caretaker or contractor, placed on the land by the mighty Lord of the Manor (ie. a multi-national agri-corp), just like a serf during the Middle Ages.  Does that meet NFU's definition? 

Is that what NFU meant then, and still means?

Perhaps we can get some clarifications from the next convention of the NFU.

It is one thing to wax poetically about farming pastoral lands like long ago, but exactly how do we make all this work?

How do we get a level playing field for all players?

The small family farms likely can't do it all, but they can play a significant role.  If that is true, how do we make room for them in today's agricultural landscape of national and international corporations who want to capture maximum market share and profits, and aren't squeamish about how many family farms get squished in the process.

If we are ever going to get government to understand and change course before it is too late, we need a comprehensive, feasible plan to which we can get buy-in from all stakeholders.

Does NFU have that plan?  If not, are they willing to help generate it?

Small Flockers are willing to help.  Is NFU a willing partner?

Monday, January 27, 2014

NFU and Supply Management

National Farmers Union ("NFU") claims to be one of the instigators of Canada's Supply Management System.  In this Blog posting, we will examine NFU's historic role, and its current position on  Supply Management.  We need to answer the question:
When NFU helped create Canada's Supply Management System for agricultural products, did it achieve the intended results, or did NFU help create a Frankenstein monster that attacks and systematically destroys the family farms and affordable food sovereignity that NFU wants to cherish and protect?
NFU's Proud History & Beginnings
 Farmer activism has a long history of fighting against governments' laissez-faire inaction, regulatory capture by special interest businesses, and big business acting on their selfish interests to the detriment of farmers; all of which resulted in monopolistic predatory actions and unfair treatment of farmers.  Farm grievances finally boiled over, and on Dec. 18, 1901 a general farmers' meeting was called in Indian Head (which became part of Saskatchawan when the territory joined Canada in 1905), which resulted in the formation of the Territorial Grain Growers Association (TGGA).

Farmers should be used to fighting for their rights and the greater good of all Canadians.  It's interesting to note that back in 1902, farmers could order a rail car for their grain under the "Car Order Book"  provision of the Manitoba Grain Act so that farmers could privately sell and ship their grain to market.  In 1902, CPR refused to honor this Act, so the Sintaluta farmers sued CPR, which finally reached the Supreme Court of Canada, where the Supreme Court ruled in the farmer's favor, enshrining farmer's rights and the Car Order Book.  Again, in 1978, the railways couldn't ship the farmer's grain, claiming a shortage of rail cars.  NFU launched "Sky Spy" (see page 11), located the "missing" railcars sitting idle on remote railway sidings, thereby embarrassing the railways into repairing 2,000 boxcars so the farmers could again ship their grain.

Note that in 2014, we have a similar situation with Canada unable to export our grains to eager international customers, all while the 2013 bumper crop of 20 Million tonnes slowly spoils at landlocked elevators and farm storage bins. Nothing new under the sun, eh?

While these examples are not directly related to poultry and Supply Management (which are the purpose of this Blog), it shows that NFU and its members have a long history of being willing to act to fix grievances and right obvious wrongs, in spite of the costs and inconveniences.

NFU and Supply Management
An individual farmer was regularly pitted against his neighbour, or farmers in other Provinces by the large grain dealers, millers, railways, and others; and therefore virtually powerless against these powerful and well connected forces.  Farmers had to organize, take a stand, and present a united front against these powerful forces.

The concept of orderly marketing of grain was, as early as 1907, being advanced by Edward A. Partridge, one of the founders of TGGA.

Once NFU was able to make some headway with grains, the core idea of "orderly markets" spilled over to other feast and famine farm products.  Five Canada-wide organizations representing producers of commodities under supply management were subsequently formed: Dairy Farmers of Canada (1934), Canadian Egg Marketing Agency (1972), Canadian Turkey Marketing Agency (1973), Chicken Farmers of Canada (1978), and Canadian Broiler Hatching Egg Marketing Agency (1986).

Perhaps these Supply Management organizations were the best possible solution at that time.  That is a complex historical question that I am unwilling and unable to fully explore, so I'm willing to give the benefit of doubt to NFU, government, and those farmers who worked tirelessly to survive and develop something to help farmers at that time.

The more important questions for today are:
  1. Has Supply Management slowly evolved from its 1907 root, and wandered onto a path in 2014 that is no longer optimum, useful, or effective for farmers and/or Canadians?
  2. Can Supply Management as it exists in 2014 be significantly improved?
  3. Rather than the current Supply Management system in Canada, is there a better way to achieve stability, reasonable income for farmers, food sovereignty, food security, and affordable food for Canadians?
 Where does NFU stand  on answering these important 3 questions?  Let's take a look.

NFU's Statement of Purpose
 I have in my possession a tri-fold pamphlet NFU Statement of Purpose that was circulated in January 2008 to prospective new members of NFU.  Today, I cannot find this document on NFU's website, however this pamphlet appears to be based on the NFU Statement of Purpose adopted by NFU's Founding Convention in 1969 (see this reference).

In the preamble, NFU states:

"...we are learning that as farmers we hold a common stake in the welfare of one another and our nation."

So far, so good.  NFU seems to recognize and support the concept of "the greater good", and that farmers will win by considering the needs and expectations of Canada and its people, rather than focusing on just what is best for farmers.

"...We are learning that the pursuit of individual self interest leads inevitably to self-destruction..."

SFPFC again supports NFU in this enlightened statement.  Farmers don't exist in a vacuum.  They have customers, Canadian citizens and the rest of the world, who must be considered and appropriately served.

"...We are learning that the society in which we live and toil is exploitive in nature and the power of abundance we possess is widely subjected to economic exploitation to our disadvantage...."

Couldn't have said it better.  It's basically the same age-old problem since the dawn of humans as a separate species.  Unfortunately, it seems that it's far worse in 2014 than in the early 1900's when the seeds of NFU were first germinating.  If the problems were bad enough to create TGGA in 1901, then NFU in 1969, I must ask if it's any wonder that these same forces led to the forming of SFPFC in 2013?

"...The common hope and aspiration of us all is that the creative power farmers possess may be a blessing to all mankind and not a curse. It is our hope and aspiration that our families may live in dignity and prosperity - that we may, as farmers, live in harmony with one another and that all the world's people may live in peace and brotherhood...."
Wow!  That is some lofty purpose.  After reading that, some of you may feel like joining hands and singing Kum ba yah.  SFPFC supports this long term goal, even though we'll likely have to wait for the Rapture before we achieve it.
"Purpose #1
Solving problems created in a technological age.  We must address ourselves to the solving of human problems created in a technological age. Our capacities for food production are functioning at less than maximum, while malnutrition and poverty continue to prevail in large sectors of the Canadian population and in much of the world...."
Farming and farmers used to be relf-reliant and self-sufficient.  Once a farmer had his first sack of seeds to plant his crops, he saved part of this year's crop as seeds for next year.  Same for manure to fertilize those future crops.  Today, the farmer has to deal with chemical fertilizers, new tractors, and seeds that cannot be saved.  The modern farmer is almost totally dependent upon all of these outside forces who exercise their powers against farmers (and all citizens who rely on farmers) to their selfish ends.  What was true in 1969, is even worse today.  See our Blog posting Health Consequences of Food Monopolies.  NFU rightfully warned all of us in 1969, yet we don't seem to have listened to these warnings.  Did NFU and its membership heed their own warnings?

Perhaps things would have been much worse if NFU hadn't been there all this time.  Perhaps it was a losing battle from the beginning.  However, it seems like some farmers, and some actions of NFU allow these dark forces to exist and flourish, and in some ways, NFU has gone over to the other side through some type of rationalization.  Perhaps they have slowly learned to switch sides, rather than to fight on against these powerful forces.

"...Forecasts indicate a doubling of world population by the year 2000, while millions of the world's people daily live in hunger. We bear the burden of a productive ability in food supply that is an embarrassment to our nation. The moral obligation felt by farm people in developing a distribution system for food that can offset the growing threat of world hunger and poverty must be shared by all Canadians. We must, as a nation, overcome the narrower consideration of world economics and political shortcomings in order that food may be used as an effective weapon for the relief of human suffering and establishment of world peace...."
Is NFU being two-faced in its policy of affordable
food while supporting Supply Management,
which charges Canadians up to 318% more than
internationally available prices?
In 1969, world population was 3.616 Billion.  By Year 2000, it reached 6.127 Billion, which was 84.7% of the doubling predicted by NFU in 1969.  It is expected that the doubling of population from 1969 will be achieved in 2014; 14 years later than originally predicted.  Still geometric explosion of populations is a huge danger, and totally unsustainable.  While hunger is still a big problem, today there are more obese persons than under nourished; a large part of this problem created by good nutritious foods being unaffordable.

SFPFC agrees with what NFU states here, but do NFU's actions adequately align and support this Purpose #1 defined by NFU back in 1969?  Has NFU abandoned this Purpose #1 and moved on to other more pragmatic issues to the self-interest of its farming constituency?

For example, Health Canada reports that 7.6% of Canadian families can't afford the food they need to feed their families.  In spite of this fact, NFU supports Supply Management for chicken in Canada, which consistently charges Canadians 3 times more for chicken than international prices; thereby exasperating a desperate situation.  How does NFU explain (and hopefully resolve) this apparently two-faced, contradiction in NFU policies?

Purpose #2   Maintaining a strong rural community
We believe in the maintenance of a strong rural community in Canada as an essential part of our national culture and that farmers must continue to hold a distinct place in the national identity as the basic producers of food. The ability to produce foodstuffs in mass quantity is increasingly resulting in the encroachment into the production area by corporate structures possessing market control. The competitive forces of integrated food production industries can, we believe, in stages destroy the principles of farm production, based on the individual management, ownership and/or control of productive resources by farm people. The production of food must be considered as serving the national interest of Canada. It is the product of the soil, which is a great natural resource. The primary production of food is the largest of our national industries, still within the realm of Canadian economic and political control. We believe it must remain Canadian. It is in the best interest of our nation to maintain a sound rural community on the strength of an efficient and economic farming industry, broadly based ownership and/or control by farm families of the basic resources for food production.
This Blog has shown the growing concentration of farming, chicken producers, poultry feed mills, and turkey producers, and the loss of young farmers.  All of this has happened during the existence of NFU and its predecessors.  Did they take adequate steps to sound the alarm, to rally the troups, to lobby government, to block the moves of this corporate slime as it slowly oozed over farms and agricultural production capacity?

Statistics Canada data previously discussed in this Blog shows that 98.94% of Canada's chicken farms have disappeared since1921.  Most of that loss has occurred while NFU was on the scene.  The same can be said for turkey farms, dairy farms, and egg producers.  How does NFU explain this decimation of family farms in spite of their Purpose #2?  Does NFU's ongoing support of Supply Management made that better, or worse?  Just how much worse could it have been?  SFPFC therefore suggests that NFU was asleep at the switch, or incompetent in its implementation of Purpose #2.

 UWO Professor David Sparling has recently reported that just 2,500 mega farms in Canada produce 28% of all agriculture production.  This is a huge increase in concentration, facilitated by a rapid loss of family farms, mergers and acquisitions of one farmer buying out his neighbours.  The even riskier cause are soul-less corporations buying into agriculture as a monopolistic, protected, high leverage market; for everybody has to eat, every day.  There is a huge future risk of even worse tyranny and oppressive actions using the control and availability of food as a weapon against the people.

If NFU was slowly losing the battle on their Purpose #2, did they adequately warn both the government and Canadians of this important fact, and ask for their help?  Was it done so that both of these groups could adequately hear and respond in time?  Here we are at the eleventh hour, holding on my our finger nails.  Could more have been done if we had started earlier and worked harder? It's hard to know for sure.

"Purpose #3   Organizing farmers
We live in an organized society. Organization implies discipline of action among the members of a group in society who share common interests and goals. Such discipline is widely exercised to the disadvantage of farmers in commerce and trade through the existence of a managed market system and an administered price structure by the corporate industrial complex, both in terms of the goods and services purchased by farmers and in the sale of farm products. As a result of the total control over the terms and conditions of trade vested in the corporate sector, vast inefficiencies exist within it, including duplication of services, under-utilization of plants and facilities and technical obsolescence, which force upon farmers demands for even greater efficiencies of production and narrowing margins of return. As individuals, farmers can exert no real influence in the market place. As individuals, farmers often disadvantage and exploit one another. Farmers must organize and bargain collectively as farmers to bring about the degree of discipline and organization necessary to make them an effective countervailing force in our society...."
It is interesting that NFU complains about organizations that act against the interests of farmers, then turns around and promotes and justifies its existence as a farming organization.  Fight fire with fire?  NFU complains and warns about organizations that control price and terms throughout the food distribution system, which is the definition of Supply Management and the Supply Management Mafia which SFPFC complains against too.  Are we aligned here, between NFU and SFPFC, or does NFU speak of something else?

To SFPFC, NFU and farmers are no longer countervailing forces against the controlling multi-nationals who control everything.  NFU and farmers have been absorbed by the corporations, turned into a pawn of the corporations, and currently do their bidding.  NFU and farmers are used as a screen behind which the corporations receive succor and support, and hide from the wrath of the public for what they continue to do to all Canadians.  How and why does the NFU and farmers shield and protect the enemy of all?

"Purpose #4   Strengthening farm bargaining power
No force in our society can match the power possessed collectively by farmers. Food production is an absolute essential. Farmers are entitled to a fair return on their labors and investment. Action follows organization. Farmers must learn to live with one another rather than off one another. Through mutual cooperation and collective action, farmers can exercise the bargaining power than comes with organization."
If the collective power of farmers is truly supreme, why are we in the mess we are today?  SFPFC agrees that NFU and farmers could be a powerful force, but so far, they have not effectively harnessed those powers against the dark forces of corporatism that has taken over farming and food in Canada.  Has that occurred due to a sell-out or treason of NFU's stated purpose?

It seems that many non-Supply Management sectors of farming complain against the actions of their SM brothers.  SFPFC, grain farmers, pork farmers, are but a few who complain against SM actions.  SM seems to think they are the tail that gets to wag the agricultural dog.

NFU states that they represent all commodities and sectors of farming.  Has NFU listened to these dissenting voices against the SM system?  Have the dissenters brought complaints and suggestions to the attention of NFU's Regional Councils, who have a duty under NFU's By-laws, to listen, consider, and respond?

 "Purpose #5   Promoting farm policies
Government holds a heavy responsibility toward determining the structure of food production in this nation by the philosophical approach reflected through legislation and public policy. Farmers must exert every legitimate means of assisting our legislators in providing legislation that can assure farmers of equity and the survival of a flourishing rural community in Canada. The rationalization, development and promotion of sound farm policies by farmers upon governments is essential to the future welfare of farming.

SFPFC supports NFU's Purpose #5, provided that these farming issues are subservient to the needs and greater good of all Canadians.  That means that adequate supplies of safe, affordable, sustainable, and nutritious food for Canadians comes first and foremost.  Is NFU in agreement with this proviso?  If not, why not?

If NFU is in agreement with this pre-condition, then why does NFU give a blanket, unequivocal support of Supply Management?  How does NFU justify this?

I will be sending a link to this posting for all the NFU groups.  I welcome NFU members to explain their personal position, to encourage NFU officers to respond to these questions, and I hereby welcome NFU executives to explain and clarify NFU's position on these important issues. I irrevocably commit SFPFC's Blog to post NFU's response on this posting, so everybody can contrast and compare SFPFC and NFU positions on these issues.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Canadian Egg Grading Stations

I finally received a copy of CFIA's current list of approved table egg grading stations.

CFIA stated that they soon hope to have the list post on CFIA's website.  I assume CFIA's "soon" means some time between next year and Year 2030.  Please stand by!

I suggested that they prepare the listing so that the Address and Postal Code is readily available for linking through free on-line mapping software (such as Google Drive, Fusion Tables, and Google Maps) so that people can readily see the location of the egg grading sites, and where they are located in relation to their farm or home.

I got no response from CFIA, so I'm not sure if they are willing to entertain that idea.  Perhaps by making that suggestion, I've created total chaos within CFIA, and delayed the posting of the list on their website by another decade or two.

Only time will tell.

I tried doing a quick porting of the pdf file to a spreadsheet so that it can be imported to a Google Fusion Table, but CFIA, for whatever reason, used multiple sizes of output pages in their pdf report.  When I tried to create the spreadsheet, it couldn't automatically parse the pdf file and get the data into the correct columns.  It will have to be done manually, at many man-hrs; but I'm not willing to do that busy work for CFIA.

From the pdf properties, I see that CFIA created the pdf from an XLS file.  Perhaps I can get a copy of the XLS file from CFIA, which would greatly simply the mapping of the data.  I will try.  I'll let you know what I get back, if anything.

A friend was reading the Feb 2014 issue of Small Farming magazine which suggested individual farmers starting up their own CFIA approved egg grading station.  I previously had the same idea.  Then I read the CFIA regulations and mandatory requirements.  It almost seems as if the complete manual on how NASA got astronaunts to the moon was smaller, easier, and more affordable than getting an egg grading station.  If you have insomnia, let me point you to a sure-fire cure: 

I heard about one farmer near Massey ON, in the near North, who was brave enough to start on this process to get his own grading station, so that he could sell his eggs at the local Farmer's Market.  After many years effort, and many thousands of $ (multiples of what he originally budgeted), and more frustration than what should enter anybody's life, he eventually managed to escape with his life, had all his original body parts still attached, and obtained a CFIA egg grading station certificate.  While I haven't spoke to him personally, he is reported to have told many others that he would never recommend this as a viable option for any sane person to consider.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

In the interim, here's the list of CFIA approved Egg Grading Stations:

CFIA Approved Egg Grading Stations in Canada
(CFIA_ACIA-#1348801-v21, as of 2014/01/15 10:11 AM)

Note that most of these egg graders will buy your eggs at deep discount prices, and you can't get your eggs back for you to sell at Farmer's Markets, farm gate, or door-to-door.  You eggs disappear into the official Supply Management beast, never to be seen again.  Your paltry cheque with all the fees and discounts already deducted is available only after 30 to 60 days.  When I did this last January 2013, I had to ask for special permission to get the cheque sent to me.  They normally hold your money in the egg grading station's bank account until you specifically ask for it.

Monday, January 20, 2014

MG Testing Methods for Poultry

Can the current government testing programs for MG (Mycoplasm gallisepticum) infections in turkeys help us?  Is there adequate cost-benefit for this testing?  Is MG testing being used as a smoke & mirrors distraction that mis-leads customers, thereby helping the #TurkeyMafia maximize profits?

In previous Blog postings (see MG in Ontario and MG (Micoplasm Gallisepticum): Poultry Enemy #1 ), we discussed a number of issues on how the #TurkeyMafia have failed to properly address this infectious disease.  Is MG infections an indicator of the turkey industries success in biohazards and prevention?

A research paper describes the  MG testing methods typically used today in North America.  The paper says there were 3 houses of about 15,000 birds per house, so we calculate 45,000 birds total on this farm.  To test for MG, 150 serum samples were taken, using an unknown sampling method, and an unknown sampling source (ie. which of the three barns).  Were samples taken from the one house, all three houses, the first chickens they were able to grab, etc.?  We don't know.  The testing found there were 10 positives out of 150 samples, or 6.66% prevalence.

The section of the paper titled "MG isolation and culture" details a different sampling, this time with 10 birds per house.  It appears this occurred after the initial 150 bird sampling.  At least we know geographically where the samples were taken.   However, we are still left to guess who and how did they pick 10 birds out of a house flock of 15,000 birds.  That is 0.067% sample size.  To me, with such a small sample, you had better be VERY careful on how you choose that 10 bird sample, or the results and conclusions are likely may be misleading and spurious.  Small samples like this are always suspect, dangerous, and of questionable value.

Statistical Sampling Methods
I suggest this scientific paper demonstrates poor reporting, or poor sampling methodology, or both.  Poor sample selection leaves significant doubt about the quality, believability, and usefulness of everything else that follows.  Very unfortunate.  A statistically valid sampling protocol which is valid, useful, feasible, fast, cheap, and effective means to get a 150 bird sample collected may be as follows.
Choose a random number between 1 and 30 from a random numbers table (found in most statistical textbooks), which will be the starting bird #.  Pass the birds through an isolation chute from one area to another, counting the birds as they pass.  When you get to the bird # which is the same as the random # chosen, take a serum sample.  Thereafter, take a serum sample from every third bird passing through the chute without forcing any particular bird into the chute or specific sequence (ie. allow the birds to haphazardly enter the chute).  Continue sampling until 300 samples have been obtained.
As close as possible, every bird in the flock should have equal probability of being selected for sampling.  That's the purpose of the randomized starting point, then the consistent sequence thereafter. 
I hope to get the informed opinion of a commercial turkey farmer, or a DVM, or a statitician as to the feasibility of this sample selection methodology, so leave your comments below. Be sure to fully explain your reasons for your opinion.

The US developed the National Poultry Improvement Plan, the latest version being passed into prescriptive law in 2009.  Since about 18% of the US chicken flocks get exported, the US would be at a competitive disadvantage if they were hotbeds of MG or other diseases in their poultry flocks.  By testing and isolating infected flocks, the spread and damage from these infectious diseases is minimized.
According to NPIP-2009 on e-CFR, Section 145.43 (c) US M. Gallisepticum Clean states [emphasis added by me]:
(c) U.S. M. Gallisepticum Clean. (1) A flock maintained in accordance with the conditions and procedures described in §147.26 of this chapter, and in which no reactors are found when a random sample of at least 10 percent of the birds in the flock, or 300 birds in flocks of more than 300 and each bird in flocks of 300 or less, is tested when more than 12 weeks of age, in accordance with the procedures described in §145.14(b): Provided, That to retain this classification, a minimum of 30 samples from male flocks and 60 samples from female flocks shall be retested at 28-30 weeks of age and at 4-6 week intervals thereafter.

Section 145.11 states:

§145.11   Supervision.

(a) The Official State Agency may designate qualified persons as Authorized Agents to do the sample collecting provided for in §145.14 and may designate qualified persons as Authorized Testing Agents to do the sample collecting and blood testing provided for in §145.14.
(b) The Official State Agency shall employ or authorize qualified persons as State Inspectors to perform the qualification testing of participating flocks, and to perform the official inspections necessary to verify compliance with the requirements of the Plan.
(c) Authorities issued under the provisions of this section shall be subject to cancellation by the official State agency on the grounds of incompetence or failure to comply with the provisions of the Plan or regulations of the official State agency. Such actions shall not be taken until a thorough investigation has been made by the official State agency and the authorized person has been given notice of the proposed action and the basis therefor and an opportunity to present his views.

Section 145.14 states [emphasis added by me]:

§145.14   Testing.

Poultry must be more than 4 months of age when tested for an official classification: Provided, That turkey candidates under subpart D of this part may be tested at more than 12 weeks of age; game bird candidates under subpart E of this part may be tested when more than 4 months of age or upon reaching sexual maturity, whichever comes first; and ostrich, emu, rhea, and cassowary candidates under subpart F of this part may be tested when more than 12 months of age. Samples for official tests shall be collected by an Authorized Agent, Authorized Testing Agent, or State Inspector and tested by an authorized laboratory, except that the stained antigen, rapid whole-blood test for pullorum-typhoid may be conducted by an Authorized Testing Agent or State Inspector. For Plan programs in which a representative sample may be tested in lieu of an entire flock, except the ostrich, emu, rhea, and cassowary program in §145.63(a), the minimum number tested shall be 30 birds per house, with at least 1 bird taken from each pen and unit in the house. The ratio of male to female birds in representative samples of birds from meat-type chicken, waterfowl, exhibition poultry, and game bird flocks must be the same as the ratio of male to female birds in the flock. In houses containing fewer than 30 birds other than ostriches, emus, rheas, and cassowaries, all birds in the house must be tested.
Section 145.33(j) states [emphasis added by me]:
(j) U.S. M. Gallisepticum Monitored. (1) A multiplier breeding flock in which all birds or a sample of at least 30 birds per house has been tested for M. gallisepticum as provided in §145.14(b) when more than 4 months of age: Provided, That to retain this classification, a minimum of 30 birds per house shall be tested again at 36 to 38 weeks and at 48 to 50 weeks at a minimum: And provided further, That each 30-bird sample should come from 2 locations within the house (15 from the front half of the house and 15 from the back half of the house). A representative sample of males and females should be sampled. The samples shall be marked “male” or “female.”
Section 145.14 Testing  states, in part:
"...Samples for official tests shall be collected by an Authorized Agent, Authorized Testing Agent, or State Inspector and tested by an authorized laboratory, except that the stained antigen, rapid whole-blood test for pullorum-typhoid may be conducted by an Authorized Testing Agent or State Inspector. ..."
OMAF has stated that they have adoped NPIP.  I have therefore asked OMAF to disclose who is authorized to collect samples, their training and certified capability (ie. did they learn anything in the NPIP training they attended, if any), and their random & representative sampling methods that adopt CFR 145 for NPIP-2009 as an official policy, guideline, or program of OMAF.

Section 145.14(b)(4) of NPIP states:
(4) Any drug, for which there is scientific evidence of masking the test reaction or hindering the bacteriological recovery of mycoplasma organisms, shall not be fed or administered to poultry within three weeks prior to a test or bacteriological examination upon which a Mycoplasma classification is based.
Does OMAF's MG program ensure that this restrictive requirement is met in all cases?  How is this issue confirmed and documented in a positive manner?  For example, an extra draw of serum can be drawn on a random basis while drawing the main sample, and these secondary samples could be screened for drug and probiotic residues and metabolites.  Does OMAF have any management, inspection, or auditing program to independently and objectively verify that this requirement is met?  If not, why not?

Statistical Acceptance Criteria
Section 145.43(c) states a flock can be designated "U.S. M. Gallisepticum Clean." upon negative results from testing all birds, or testing 300 birds for flocks of more than 300 birds. 

Using a Binomial distribution, alpha=0.1 (ie. a 10% probability of rejecting a good lot; a typical industry-wide standard value) and beta=0.05 (ie. a 5% probability of accepting a bad lot, a typical industry-wide standard value), we calculate the AQL (Acceptable Quality Level) as 0.1186% of birds are MG infected and the UQL (Unacceptable Quality Level) is 0.765% of birds are MG infected, thereby creating the statistical test of passing the flock is no birds are positive, and rejecting the flock is just 1 bird tests positive.
I wonder if anybody at OMAF knows what a binomial distribution, AQL, UQL, and Type I and II errors are, and how these factors significantly affect MG testing?  If they don't, it's no wonder that we still have spurious outbreaks of MG throughout Canada, including Ontario.  Is OMAF satisfied with this sampling plan and its resulting AQL of 0.1186%, and the UQL  of 0.765%? If not, what are OMAF's comments on these calculated quality levels?

Testing Lab Capabilities
Once the samples are collected, somebody has to test them to see if MG can be detected.  Can a Chicken Farmer, or anybody else just look at the glass vials of blood and accurately and consistently see the MG in the blood?  No, we need a laboratory to test the blood.  It must be done so it's accurate and repeatable.  The above calculation assumes that the lab test is 100% accurate and sensitive.  Where is the data on the sensitivity, selectivity, accuracy, repeatability, and reproducibility of the laboratory that does the MG screening tests?
What are the qualifications, certifications, and proven capabilities (eg. accuracy, bias, repeatability, stability, linearity, sensitivity, selectivity, reproducibility, etc.) of all Ontario labs used or authorized to perform and/or produce these MG test results?  Are any of these labs third party registered (under Standards Council of Canada's authority) for ISO 17025?  If not, why not?

Trust & Verification
OMAF scientists have repeatedly suggested that everybody involved in MG testing wants accurate results.

I'm not so sure.
After a career of 25 years as a quality assurance auditor across thousands of organization and almost all industry sectors, throughout North America and the rest of the world, I am continuously reminded that "people work the way they are measured".  In other words, they do what they have to, to make their measuring sticks look good.

For example, during the Chineese Melamine Scandal, melamine plastic powder was repeatedly and purposefully added to fluid milk, infant formula, and other protein based foods in China, because the supply chain was measured on % protein content in the food, and melamine showed up as protein by the "standard test".  Supposedly, testing for %Protein in milk prevented the diluting down of the milk with water.  A solution almost always has unintended consequences.  Perhaps that's why it's best if the governments of the world stop trying to help.  In China, with the misleading %Protein tests, food samples always looked great, with 100% passing all %Protein tests, until they were caught adding melamine after some babies died.  Eventually, a total of 19 babies died, 300,000 people were poisoned acutely.  In the long term, almost everybody who survived has serious chronic health consequences.
Why did the Chinese Melamine Scandal occur?   Mainly greed, and because people work the way they are measured.

For MG in Canada, I suggest that 0% to 5% of breeder/growers will get MG tested, even if the government said No!, even if it cost them big money.  They'd do it because it was the right thing to do.  For the next 40%, they'll get tested if it's a reasonable commercial price to do so and there are business case advantages for them on a selfish 1-sided basis (save your breath on "save the world" reasons).  The next 40% will do it if it's free or heavily subsidized by the government and your pressure  them to comply.  The last 15% will refuse, or do it only while the government is standing there watching them, and won't leave them alone until they do it.  How does this compare with your reality?

I suggest the majority of turkey farmers don't want MG testing, they just want the MG certificate so they can export their birds and get their cash.  For many, if they get their profits with or without a pretty MG-certificate, they're fine with it, regardless of the true MG-status of their flocks.

Is a MG-free certificate for Canadian turkeys the same as a melamine-induced %Protein certificate for Chinese milk?  In other words, is the government issued MG-free certificate a tool for enabling fraud to be perpetrated onto the #TurkeyMafia's customers?

What are OMAF's plans for when a customer of a Canadian turkey farm buys an alleged MG-free flock with a pretty government issued MG-free certificate (CFIA or OMAF), but some birds they bought are soon discovered to be sick &/or dead on shipment arrival, and the customer's Vet reports MG-contamination in the flock?
What if soon after the first MG surprise, it happens again?
Soon, everybody is testing for MG in spite of the pretty government issued MG-free certificates which were heavily subsidized by the government for the nice boys on the Canadian Supply Management turkey farms.  Remember, these Supply Management Turkey farms and their Marketing Agency are totally self-funding; except for MG testing, and many other exceptions that aren't even listed in the fine print.
One day soon, in this atmosphere of misleading MG-free certificates, there will be a sudden realization of a poultry epidemic at hand.  Suddenly, in a panic on Bird Flu or some other issue, what they have repeatedly turned a blind eye to before, will suddenly get the full spotlight.

Suddenly, they no longer trust Canadian turkeys, nor will they trust the pretty government issued MG-free certificates, so these customers will ban all Canadian turkey imports.  Other countries soon follow suit.  A world-wide embargo similar to Mad Cow Disease might soon be imposed on Canada's MG turkeys and misleading MG-free certificates, and Canada is at the epi-center. They will accuse Canada of knowingly giving out dubious MG-free certificates so as to unfairly and callously facilitate exporting, a breach of trust by Canada of their duty to other countries.

I believe that day is coming soon.  OMAF and the #TurkeyMafia can get ready now, or wait till it blows up like Mad Cow, Avian Flu, etc.

Today, there are 531 turkey farms, 9 hatcheries, and 20 turkey processing plants in Canada which produce 160.2 Million kg of turkey each year, which adds $377.8 Million per year to Canada's GDP.  Of that, 13.1% gets exported.  Could all of that be put at risk because of phony, misleading MG certificates?

Once Mad Cow was identified as causing CJD, and prions were in the food system in 1986, how long did it take for the British beef industry to be destroyed?  I suggest it took less than a year.

Look at China and SE Asia today with its Bird Flu and the ongoing losses and poultry industry decimation.  Look at pork in the US today with their virus.  Is the #TurkeyMafia truly 100% confident that they are completely immune to MG, and all similar epidemics?

Remember, Ontario's Premier Wynne want to Double our agri-food exports before 2020, not cut them in half.  We can't double if nobody trusts us and our disease-free certifications.  If we were found or suspected of having mis-leading MG-free certificates, this will likely tarnish all government certifications, not just MG.

All of this is occurring during the current government's watch.  Are they aware?  Are the mandarins watching? Are they competent and effective if we need them to handle an outbreak?

For Ontario, we have 186 turkey farms, and 3 hatcheries; all of which produce about 63 Million kg per year of eviscerated turkey meat, which is about 45% of the Canadian total production, with a farm gate live bird value of $160.8 Million per year.  With an average live bird weight of 8.509 kg., and an average eviscerated to live weight of 77.39% (ie. an average eviscerated weight of 6.585 kg,), the average Ontario quota-based turkey farm raises 9.567 Million turkeys per year are raised in Ontario.  With an average commercial grow-out period of 95 days, there are 3.84 grow cycles per year.  Therefore the average Ontario turkey farm has 13, 395 birds on-range at any one time.  The 2012 average farm gate live price was $1.98/kg., so the quota-based farmer has $26,522 at risk to an MG epidemic at all times during the year.  If MG hits, the recommended practice is to remove birds, clean, sanitize, and sit empty for 6 weeks (ie. 1.56 grow cycles). Loss of opportunity plus the costs thrown away give a net total MPPD (Maximum Probable Property Damage) of $67,896 per MG incident.

If they don't clean & sanitize properly after an MG incident, they are likely to suffer a second incident immediately following the first.  I suggest they don't need too many MG incidents for their banker to notice a significant change in the financial status of the #TurkeyMafia.

Cascade an MG incident through the entire economy, for an MG incident will affect hatcheries, feed mills, vets, suppliers, turkey meat processors, and retail; justifying a 4 fold multiplier.  Therefore, it is estimated that one MG incident has a $271,585 hit to the Ontario economy.

What is the effect as we cascade an MG incident through the entire economy of Ontario?  An MG incident at a farm will also affect hatcheries, feed mills, vets, suppliers, turkey meat processors, and retail; justifying a 4 fold multiplier.  Therefore, it is estimated that one MG incident at a turkey farm in Ontario has a $271,585 hit to the Ontario economy.
The Avian Flu incident in Fraser Valley, BC is estimated to have cost in excess of $300 Million.  Only $65 Million of this was a direct expense to the government under Health of Animals Act.  Is this not a subsidy of the Supply Management system, contrary to their insistence that they are 100% self-funded?
Isn't there significant Moral Hazard associated with these obsolete government programs?  Today, the #TurkeyMafia takes the risk as they please.  If they get caught, the public pays the cost.  If the #TurkeyMafia's gamble works for them, they get to keep 100% of the resulting profits.

What is your opinion about this $271,585 per incident MPPD calculation?  When you multiply that single average loss by the average number of MG incidents per year (confidential data to OMAF), we can only guess the total Province-wide annual loss.   Where does that loss sit on OMAF's priority list?

StatsCan reports in CANSIM Table 004-0004 that in 2011, there were 2,767 turkey farms with an aggregate total of 8,221,500 turkeys, and therefore had an average of 2,899 turkeys per farm.  We conclude that the SM turkey farms are 4.6 times bigger than the average Canadian turkey farm. 

Turkey Farmers of Canada reported in 2012 that they had 531 turkey farms under the Supply Management quota system.  We therefore calculate that there are 2,236 Small Flock quota-exempt turkey farms in Canada, which is 80.8% of the total number of Canadian turkey farms.  Again, the Supply Management system has constructed another apartheid system of the minority to overpower and oppress the majority.
We will have to wait for OMAF's answers, and whether any of the dystopian predictions above actually come true.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

MG in Ontario

I previously posted about the dangers of Micoplasm Gallisepticum ("MG") (see MG (Micoplasm Gallisepticum): Poultry Enemy #1).   I have now got some additional information on MG in Ontario.

Dr.Varga,  a Veterinarian and poultry Specialist employed by Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, is OMAF's lead man on MG, so I asked him:
"I look forward to hearing back from you on MG in Ontario, incidence & prevalence rates."
To which Dr.Varga replied:
"In Ontario every commercial poultry breeder flock can enroll in the MYCOPLASMA MONITORING and send samples to be tested for Mycoplasma gallisepticum (MG) and receive certification under the program if clean. "
"In Ontario MG is not a major problem, however we are seeing sporadically MG positive flocks. Due to privacy legislation, I can not give you exact numbers."
To which I asked:
"Thanks for getting back to me.

What % of breeders have enrolled in the mycoplasm monitoring program?

I understand that MG testing is not 100% effective, as there can be a latent infection but it's well hidden as birds are not shedding the mycoplasm at the point in time of testing.

What are the mandatory or recommended standards, methods, sampling procedures for getting MG certificates? Please provide me a copy of these sampling documents. Who does the actual sampling? For example, if the breeder is more interested in a MG certificate due to the commercial advantages of having that MG certificate, is there significant advantage in sampling in a manner that will have a reduced or no chance of detecting MG, even if it existed in the flock?

Do you sense that these sporatic positives are past sins that reoccur now and again due to incomplete or improper cleaning out of bird facility between flocks?

If no, what do you think are the sources & mechanisms of these sporadic infections?

Is there a geographical clustering to these MG sporatic infections?
Which prompted Dr. Varga to respond:
"All major breeder producers are participating in this program. There is a requirement for breeder companies who export hatching eggs to be participating in the MG monitoring program. The monitoring is serological, and at 16-24 weeks of age producers have to submit 300 samples, and usually the serology is done by an ELISA test. After this every 13 weeks they have to submit 150 samples for testing. It is very important to them to identify the MG positives, because the export requirements and also to eliminate the positive flocks, because MG can be transmitted verticaly(via the egg)."
ELISA is Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay which is a test done on liquid or liquified samples that contain viruses, bacteria, mycoplasm, antigens, antibodies, and similar biological components for which we need to get a positive or negative screening test result.

 Which prompted me to ask:
Thanks again.
When you speak of "all major breeder producers" doing MG testing, are you speaking of just turkey, or just chicken, or turkey and chicken, or ducks, or quail, or what?  What about minor breeder producers?

You previously stated that you cannot give specific data on incidence & prevalence rates for MG in Ontario due to privacy legislation.  Please state the sections # of the various privacy statutes, regulations, and rulings upon which you rely to support your claim that this data is private and confidential.

Who actually takes the serum samples?  Is it an independent DVM, or can it be an owner or employee or sub-contractor of the farm?

Is there a mandatory sampling procedure?  All statistically valid sampling and testing of populations require that randomized samples be obtained, unless you are sampling 100% of the population.  For example, with a flock of 1,000 bird, with 300 serum samples required, that is one out of every 3.33 birds.  A sampling protocol may be as follows:
Choose a random number between 1 and 30 from a random numbers table (found in most statistical textbooks), which will be the starting bird #.  Pass the birds through an isolation chute from one area to another, counting the birds as they pass.  When you get to the bird # which is the same as the random # chosen, take a serum sample.  Thereafter, take a serum sample from every third bird passing through the chute without forcing any particular bird into the chute or specific sequence (ie. allow the birds to haphazardly enter the chute).  Continue sampling until 300 samples have been obtained.
The above method has a random sampling start point and therefore every bird had an equal probability of being sampled.  If you are not doing this type of sampling plans, the testing is likely invalid or of limited use.  If biased personnel are selecting which birds are sampled (eg. sample the healthiest looking birds, or the weakest, or the easiest ones to catch, or the ones from Barn #6 because it is the only barn that we've never had MG in, etc.), the sampling is statistically invalid.

I previously asked a number of specific questions that you have not yet answered.  Are you still preparing answers to these questions, or do you intend to ignore these questions?

My outstanding questions for which I would like specific, comprehensive answers are:

  1. What are the mandatory or recommended standards, methods, sampling procedures for getting MG certificates?
  2. Please provide me a copy of these sampling documents.
  3. Who does the actual sampling?  For example, if the breeder is more interested in a MG certificate due to the commercial advantages of having that MG certificate, is there significant advantage in sampling in a manner that will have a reduced or no chance of detecting MG, even if it existed in the flock?
  4. Do you sense that these sporatic positives are past sins that reoccur now and again due to incomplete or improper cleaning out of bird facility between flocks?  If no, what do you think are the sources & mechanisms of these sporadic infections?
    Friends and strangers (ie. followers of this renegade Blog) may wish to call or email Dr. Varga and express their condolences that Dr. Varga got caught in the cross hairs of this inquiry into MG in Ontario.  I'm sure the providing of comprehensive answers to these specific questions is not an easy balancing act between the OMAF manderins for whom Dr. Varga reports, the #TurkeyMafia whom he has to deal with on a day-to-day basis who entrust him to keep everything secret and deny all risks and problems exist, and his professional integrity.

    Csaba Varga, DVM, MSc, Dipl ACVPM
    Lead Veterinarian, Disease Prevention - Poultry
    Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food 
    Veterinary Science and Policy
    Department of Pathobiology, Room 4840
    Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph
    50 Stone Road East, Guelph, ON, N1G2W1
    Tel. 519- 824-4120 Ext.54650

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Can we be saved by Canada's First Nations?

Can First Nations save the rest of Canada from the Supply Management Mafia?  We may soon receive an answer to this question.

I have previously Blogged about how 7.6% of Canadian families can't afford the food they need to feed their families, 11.8% in Ontario, and 28.8 % in Nunavut (see The Chicken Mafia Exposed ).

Unfortunately, food insecurity is as high as 33% in First Nations people who live off-reserve, and 50% or higher for those who live on-reserve.  Fortunately, this gives Chief and Council on First Nations a greater driving force to find a solution.  Many feel that the first priority for all sovereign governments is for them to ensure food security for their people.

Growing your own food can create steady employment in poor communities.  It builds self-reliance and self-sufficiency.  It helps all those who live nearby, for they may wish to purchase the extras available in a bountiful harvest.

I have sent an email to Wikwemikong Development Commission, and to the Union of Ontario Indians.

We'll soon see if they're interested, and can help us break the log jam that is hurting all Canadians.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Small Flockers' Liberty via Libertarians?

Libertarians of Ontario and Federal Libertarians support Small Flockers'.  Perhaps there is hope for us on the political landscape.

Their current federal platform is at:
Free Market
We oppose government intervention in the free market. We oppose restrictions on trade and contracts. We oppose government monopolies and marketing boards.

We advocate repeal of all controls on wages, prices, rents, profits, production, and interest rates.
 The current ON provincial platform is at:

Mr. Allen Small, Leader of the Ontario Libertarian Party admits it is unlikely that his party will form the next government. So, does it matter if the Libertarians are on the side of Small Flockers?

Fortunately, it is a Canadian tradition that most governments continuously reject the good ideas advanced by the opposition and lesser parties.  That public rejection is quickly followed by the government slapping a new label on the ideas of others, they steal that good idea, proclaims it as their idea, then implement that stolen idea.

Why can't we get that theft of an idea to happen so as to relieve Small Flockers' plight?

They have posted about Small Flockers on the Facebook page of the Ontario Libertarians and received numerous postings of support from their followers.

There is hope.

The shackles that bind Small Flockers are straining under the growing forces for change.  Soon, those shackles and chains that bind us will break, and we will be free.

Liberty for the people.  That's the root of the word "Libertarian".

Friday, January 10, 2014

Aaron's Eggs Day in Court

I previously Blogged about a rebellious, but soft spoken small flock egg farmer in Nova Scotia who is in the gun sight cross hairs of the #ChickenMafia and their henchmen, the notorious #ChickenPolice (see Aaron's Eggs.

I subsequently wrote how SFPFC and thousands of NS citizens intervened on Aaron's behalf, so the Nova Scotia government decided to intervene, and finally the NS Egg Board relented by doubling the small flock exemption (100 birds to 200), and proposed an auction of 2,000 bird quota for small flockers, to be divided in 4 lots of 500 birds each.  If Aaron applied and was lucky enough to win, we would have an exemption for 700 birds, so he could keep his present flock of 700 (see Give Credit where Credit Due.

I received a call from Aaron today, saying the #ChickenPolice continued with their charges against Aaron, and he recently spent his first day in arraignment court pleading Not Guilty to all charges.  Aaron said he considered the ease and speed of pleading guilty, but he just couldn't do it.

I had previously offered all of SFPFC's legal research to Aaron in preparation for our Ontario rebellion against the #ChickenMafia.  WIthin a few minutes, I had an email off to Aaron, but the email server choked on the 38 MB of file attachment. Doing a compressed zip file wasn't much better.  I'm going to have to upload all these precious files to a Internet Cloud File Server, so Aaron can download everything.  I hope Aaron's Pro Bono lawyer finds it useful.

While I had Aaron on the phone, we quickly discussed strategy.  His parting remarks were that he obviously needed to learn a lot more, really quicky.

Indeed he does.  Just like Wiley E. Coyote, those #ChickenPolice are a nefarious bunch.  The advantage for the #ChickenPolice, they have the government to do their dirty work for them

Once the offense notice has been issued by the #ChickenPolice so as to protect their monopoly, the government steps in and takes over.  The power of the state and their bottomless pockets are now against Aaron, while the #ChickenPolice can sit back, relaxing in their front row seats while the brash Crown Attorney attempts to sink Aaron and his young small family on their family farm.

There ought'a be a law.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

You make a difference

You make a difference.


Thanks to you, and all others like you, for what you do, even if it's limited to reading this misguided, rebellious, and seditious Blog for the first time.

Some of you have taken a more proactive approach.  For this, I am even more thankful for your efforts.

For example, on Jan. 3, 2014 I received an email from David and Brenda Linton that included info about poultry farming in Connecticut USA and the recent improvements the government made to help small flock farmers.

So that David & Brenda would know that I appreciated their efforts, I immediately thanked them for sending me the news clip.  At that point, I had no idea what it was all about, other than chickens in Connecticut.

Not being familiar with Connecticut's situation, it took me a while to figure out what had changed, and how it compared to Canada.  I eventually understood, and did yesterday's posting (see Connecticut Can, Why Not Ontario? ) based on this news item from David & Brenda.

If it hadn't been for David & Brenda's efforts, I might never have learned, or never motivated enough to write about this issue.  After they sent it to be, I felt obliged to do something with it.  It isn't easy trying to research something and Blog about it in an enlightened, reasoned manner.  I need all the motivation I can get to do that every day.  It would have been unfortunate to have lost that opportunity.

As of today, we've had 34,174 pageviews of this Blog since Feb. 28, 2013.  I believe we have to get to 8 million pageviews before we move to Phase II of our campaign.  The Blog stats suggest that 60.4% are new people who never visited before.  To me, that seems to be a very health ratio of new to repeat visitors.  It's a sign of our exponential growth.

After finishing the Blog posting based on David & Brenda's tip, I again emailed them and gave them the link to the Blog posting made yesterday AM.  The Blog posting went up at 8:00 AM, and by 9:38 AM, I got a return email from David & Brenda.  Here is what they said:
"Awesome article. Your research and logic is first rate.  Glad we could supply the tip.  My son put the article on “Twitter” and it has since been reposted several times.  Good news travels fast I guess."
OK, so what, we have a couple of happy Blog readers.  But does it really make a difference in the grand scheme of things?

Yes, I believe it does.  Here's the proof.

When I went to the Blog this morning, I saw this big spike on our stats page for the number of pageviews.  I wondered what had happened.

Figure 1:  SFPFC Blog pageviews trend Jan. 6 to Jan. 7th, 2014.
After I read David & Brenda's email, I knew.  The spike was likely the Twitter posting and re-posting that intrigued the Twitter followers.  Intrigued people tend to click on links, and see what it's all about.  We ended up doubling our Blog pageviews because of David & Brenda & son.

Thanks again David & Brenda (and their son).  Your efforts do make a difference.

OK, enough on David & Brenda, what about you?

Are you able to follow the sterling example of David & Brenda?

That is the only way we are going to get the word out about the plight and persecution of small flock poultry farmers in Canada.  The public doesn't understand yet.  Most of them are asleep.  They sleep while they assume they are safe, and all is well.

That is what the Supply Management Mafia is counting on.  Just like a burglar who has broken into somebody's house, the burglar wants the owner to stay asleep while they rob them blind.

Canada and Canadians need to wake up.

We, as good neighbours, may be the only ones who spot suspicious activity in a neighbour's house in the middle of the night.  We need to sound the alarm so as to protect our neighbours, our fellow citizens.

We need to warn everybody about what the Supply Management Mafia have been doing, and what they will continue to do until they are stopped dead in their tracks.

It's only neighbourly for us to do this.

If the roles were reversed, wouldn't we appreciate the helping hand of our neighbours?.

So I encourage you to link to a posting that stirs your blood.  Send it as a link to all your family and email friends.  When you go for coffee, bring it up as an interesting piece of conversation.  Tell the people at work about what you have read here.  Tell them how you feel about being screwed continuously by the #ChickenMafia and their henchmen.  Tell everybody you know how the continual screwing has rubbed you raw and sore, and you want it to stop.

It's our only hope. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Connecticut Can, Why not Ontario?

Small flock poultry farmers in Connecticut ("CT") USA can now do on-farm slaughter and sell these birds at retail sales, such as farmer's markets, household consumers, restaurants, hotels, and boarding houses.

Somehow, the US system evolved so that there are neither State nor Federal inspected poultry processing plants in Connecticut.  That sad fact has hindered all Connecticut poultry farmers, both big and small, for some time, because the CT poultry was not an "approved food source".  That meant individuals could purchase their poultry meats for home consumption, but you couldn't sell them at retail, and they couldn't be used in restaurants and other food service establishments.

The Connecticut Public Act 10-103 "AN ACT CONCERNING FARMS, FOOD AND JOBS".  Now isn't that a novel twist.  Politicians who actually understand that local food production helps farms, and creates jobs.

Further on in the announcement, the Connecticut government states, "More and more consumers are demanding foods they perceive as more sustainable and local."  It is clearly evident again, that Connecticut politicians and bureaucrats are listening to their people.  Why or why do we have so many deaf and dumb politicians in Canada?  In Canada, they can't hear (or don't want to hear) what the people are saying, and they refuse to speak up on behalf of Canadians.

This Connecticut law includes "... livestock food products, including meat, milk, cheese and other dairy products..." and just about all other farm products of Connecticut, and baked goods derived from those Connecticut products.

For example, canning of farm produce can be done on-farm without public health inspection, provided the farmer has passed a safe food handling and/or safe food processing course, the farm house water used is fit to drink, the canning area is restricted during the canning process, and each container is labelled "Not prepared in a government inspected kitchen".

Small flock poultry operations are defined as farms that raise up to 5,000 turkey or 20,000 poultry of all species per year.  That certainly contrasts with Ontario, as well as every other province & territory in Canada where the mighty #ChickenMafia have a death grip on the throats of every Canadian; buy from the #ChickenMafia or die!

In Connecticut, if a small flock farmer wants to slaughter his own birds on-farm, then the Connecticut Department of Agriculture will inspect the on-farm slaughter facilities to the "Poultry Products Inspection Act ["PPIA"] and any applicable provision of the Code of Federal Regulations, including, but not limited to, any health, sanitary and safety related provision."

The Connecticut notice  states that:
"Participating facilities must have an approved plan for the disposal of liquid waste and an approved plan for the disposal of offal. The processor must have an approved water supply and test the water supply every six months, or, if operated seasonally, test the water supply no more than 30 days prior to the date processing starts. (Required water testing is not applicable to municipal water supplies.) Participants also must have an approved site bio-security protocol and have a written system of product labeling and record keeping facilitating product tracking and trace-back to the slaughter/process facility."
Seems like reasonable requirements to avoid complaints from neighbours, and from creating a food health hazard.

If you pass the State inspection, and you meet the exemptions from continuous USDA inspections during slaughter (per PPIA) , then your slaughter operation "shall be designated as approved food sources for household consumers, restaurants, hotels, and boarding houses."

That "approved food source" designation means no hassles from Public Health Inspectors who happen to see some of these products downstream in the food chain (eg. store shelves, restaurants, etc.).

The Connecticut note also states:

"The inspection follows the requirements of the PPIA, including an audit of the HACCP system and an evaluation of the sanitation, sanitary practices, food-handling equipment design and construction, handling of animals, record-keeping, and water supply."
OK, so you're a farmer raising poultry, and slaughtered your own birds for decades.  However, you're not familiar with government documents, or never heard of HACCP?

Again, no problem!  Connecticut has got you covered.  The State Ag Extension Office offers a safe poultry slaughter course to assist producers with designing and implementing a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) system. A HACCP system is required under the PPIA and the Connecticut Small Poultry Processor Inspection Program.

Just to be sure that all State bureaucrats fully understand, the notice states: "Sales of poultry directly to the final consumer at the farm or at a farmer’s market via order are not affected by this program. Those producers who market directly to the final consumer are able to continue this practice."

What if a Connecticut farmer is too small or can't afford to run his own slaughter operation?

No problem!  Connecticut has thought of everything.

Connecticut is funding the designing and building a mobile poultry processing plant on wheels (ie. a highway transport trailer specially converted to a poultry abattoir) by the Connecticut Poultry Association ("CPA").  The CPA will identify two sites, one at the East and one at the West of Connecticut, where this mobile slaughter plant can be parked, and hooked up to local electrical and water supply.  The farmers bring their birds to this mobile site, the birds are processed, and the farmers return home with their birds ready for sale at their farm gate, Farmer's Markets, or at retail.

No fuss, no muss.

Even under-serviced areas and remote farms can get easily serviced by a poultry abattoir in CT.

Figure1:  Comparison of Connecticut USA to Ontario Canada
Is there a fair comparison between Connecticut and Ontario?  Let's see.

Ontario is about 64 times bigger on sq. km. basis that Connecticut ("CT"), and the dimensions are about 10.9 times greater on a geometric average of length and width.

On population, Ontario is 3.6 times bigger than CT.  However, population density of CT is 20.4 times bigger than ON.

With two mobile abattoir sites strategically located in CT, the farthest a farmer would have to drive would be 70 km., which seems reasonable.

Assuming the same sq. km per mobile site for Ontario, we would need 128 mobile site locations scattered throughout Ontario.

Assuming that the mobile abattoir crew would do all birds at a site in one day, a second day to clean up, and a third day on the road to travel to the next site & set up there, that is a 3 day cycle per site.

If farmers are doing the typical quota-based 6.5 poultry grow cycles per year, they will need the mobile abattoir to come by their area for each of those poultry grow cycles.  Therefore there are 6.5 cycles per year x 128 sites x 3 days/site= 2,496 days of work to be done in all of Ontario.  Assuming 350 work days per year for each mobile abattoir, we would therefore need 7 mobile abattoirs trailers for serving all of Ontario.

On a population basis, CT has one mobile abattoir for every 1.8 million people.  For a similar ratio, ON would need 7 mobile abattoirs to serve our 12.8 million population in Ontario.  Interesting that we get the same answer, no matter which way we calculate it!

So 7 mobile abattoirs for Ontario will do the trick.

Well, Premier Wynne, how soon do we get the Ontario Meat Regs. modified so it matches CT's new law?

When will OMAF's RED Rural Economic Development cheque for the 7 abattoir trailers be presented to newly formed regional CO-Op's who will be offered first opportunity to run these 7 mobile abattoirs?

How about putting out a RED Request for Proposals where any group can apply for a defined geographical region based on Census Divisions ("CD") and population with those chosen CD's which totals at least 5,000 sq. km. that they would service.

I suggest the following deal between OMAF and these 7 Co-Ops to be formed for managing the 7 abattoir trailers:
  • OMAF will pay for the trailer plus some startup funding and personnel training for each regional trailer and all of the 18 or so sites that each trailer will service.
  • In return, OMAF will get a share of the top-line gross revenue per bird processed until OMAF's costs are re-paid.
  • After that, the Co-op that runs each trailer is on their own.
  • If the Co-OP goes bankrupt, or fail to serve the area as promised, the trailer gets returned to OMAF, and a new RED Request for Proposal is advertised for that same CD district.
OMAF helps it get started, but it isn't a hand-out.

It's giving the farmers and the people of Ontario a temporary hand up.

I have already contacted the CT Poultry Association, asking for info on their mobile abattoir design.  I'll send you a copy when I get it, Premier Wynne.  Anything to help, eh?

*  *  *
P.S. A dip of the chicken wing to Dave & Brenda Linton who forwarded me the link to this interesting news item about the new law in Connecticut.  Thanks

We welcome all similar news items, rumors that need debunking, accolades, complaints, questions, etc. We're not proud, we'll take everything we can get.