New quota deal could favour growing provinces

Agreement in principle | While all provinces will see an increase, 
Alberta and Ontario, with higher population growth, could see more

An agreement in principle on national chicken quota allocations has been reached, but the details need to be finalized.

All member provinces of Chicken Farmers of Canada will receive a slight increase, but Alberta and Ontario may receive slightly more based on their population growth.

“We have been at this seriously for five years,” said Mike Dungate, executive director of Chicken Farmers of Canada.

“We are closer than we have ever been.”

The sector considers overall market demand and natural population growth when assessing how much quota each province should receive.

All the provinces are negotiating and recognize there is a need to allocate growth differentially, which means responding to the needs of the different markets across Canada and allocating more quota to provinces that are growing faster than others.

Alberta and Ontario have long argued their quota has been under-allocated while their populations have surged. In protest, Alberta dropped out of the national scheme at the beginning of this year but is still talking.

“We are continuing to work with CFC,” said Karen Kirkwood, executive director of Alberta Chicken.

“We are party to the agreement in the principle, but that does not mean we are back in the federal-provincial agreement at this point in time.”

She said Alberta has been able to meet its own market demands for fresh chicken and the needs of processors since going it alone.

There is no deadline for a settlement.

“The best deals are done when there is good process and due diligence applied,” she said.

Dungate said all meat consumption in Canada is down, dropping to around 87 kilograms per capita this year from 98 kg in 2000.

The greatest decline has been for beef and pork, while chicken consumption has remained stable.

Chicken consumption peaked in 2007 when every Canadian ate 31.6 kg per year.

It has since declined by about a kilogram but consumption is rebuilding, partly in response to record retail prices for beef and pork.

“This past year has been very good because prices of beef and pork have gone up significantly,” he said.

The chicken sector believes it can increase supply while keeping costs in line.

According to the national association, 710.8 million kg of fresh chicken were available for the Canadian market as of July 31, 2013, up nearly 23 million kg from 2012.

Canadians produced 612.4 million kg and imported 98.4 million kg.

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