Alberta Chicken Producers exits national supply management

RED DEER — After seven years of trying to get a larger quota, Alberta Chicken Producers has given notice it is withdrawing from the federal-provincial supply management agreement as of Dec. 31.

Alberta wants more allocation to supply more chicken for its growing population but has been unsuccessful.

Alberta sent a letter of notification Nov. 22 that it would withdraw and had until Feb. 22 to rescind it but after seven meetings since last October, no final solution could be reached on the complicated national quota allocation. All 10 provinces must agree but Quebec and Nova Scotia did not, said David Hyink, Alberta’s representative.

Alberta Chicken Producers still has authority to set allocations and enforce other programs like animal care and food safety because those are provincially regulated programs.

“It is not going to be a free for all and there will still be controls in the system,” Hyink said.

“Alberta can set its own quota but we have always said we would maintain a responsible predictable allocation setting process,” said Alberta Chicken Producers chair Erna Ference.

“We would still set it according to what our processors would ask for,” she said.

Dave Janzen, chair of Chicken Farmers of Canada, asked for all involved to take a break from negotiations, which may require government intervention to resolve.

“Without a doubt there are fundamental differences between provincial boards on how growth in the industry should be handled and allocated,” he said.

Alberta supplies 83 percent of its chicken needs and the remainder is made up of imports from other provinces, said Karen Kirkwood, executive director of for the provincial association. It produces 121 million kilograms of live chicken each year and imports 10 pounds of additional poultry for every Albertan.

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