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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Appeal tribunal dismisses Manitoulin Island farmer's bid for chicken quota

Max Burt, a second generation poultry farmer from Gore Bay on Manitoulin Island, has lost his appeal to the Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Tribunal on the issue of chicken quota.  He had requested that the Tribunal reverse the refusal of the Chicken Farmers of Ontario (CFO) to give him 2,040 units of quota to produce and market chicken to satisfy what he believes to be a local market demand.  In the alternative, Burt sought an exemption from the requirement for quota.  In asking to be provided with quota, Burt relied on the historical production of his father, Edward Burt, during the original qualifying period for broiler chicken quota in 1964-65. 

The Tribunal saw the essence of the appeal as a request either for free quota or an exemption from quota.  In its view, the absence of a compelling and satisfactory reason for the 46-year delay alone was sufficient reason to deny the request for a qualifying period chicken quota allotment.  Further, the Tribunal found that Max Burt failed to prove qualifying production during the 1964-65 period and that he was not actually a producer during that time (his father was).  The Tribunal was unable to find any authority on which it could extend the qualifying quota from father to son.

On the issue of the exemption, the Tribunal found that the request for an exemption was based on financial reasons - affordability.  In dismissing this request, the tribunal wrote:
In our view, affordability cannot be the basis for the Tribunal to grant Max Burt an exemption from the Regulation, so as to permit him to produce and market 2,040 units of chicken. If we were to use affordability as an exemption criterion, it would render CFO's existing exemption policy, as reflected in section 2.02 of the Regulation, meaningless. Further, treating affordability as an exemption criterion could open a flood of exemption applications from some, if not all the other 14,000 registered chicken growers in the province. Finally, treating affordability as an exemption criterion would eventually undermine the chicken quota system, which is the foundation of the chicken supply management system in Ontario.
Read the decision at: Max Burt vs Chicken Farmers of Ontario.  The decision includes a useful summary of the history of chicken supply management in Ontario.