Canada's Chicken War Hots Up

NEW BRUNSWICK, CANADA - The provincial government is to decide where New Brunswick's chickens will be processed in future, and it will be locally.
calendar icon 10 December 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

The New Brunswick government will give itself the power to pick where poultry is processed in retaliation against Ontario and Quebec in a long-running chicken battle, according to CBC.

Agriculture Minister, Ronald Ouellette, said on 8 December that he will proclaim a law that gives him the authority to decide where New Brunswick-grown chickens are processed.

That move will ensure that locally raised chickens will go to the Nadeau poultry plant in St-François, near Edmundston in north-western New Brunswick.

Mr Ouellette told the legislative assembly that he had no choice after farmer groups in Ontario and Quebec blocked their chickens from being exported to Nadeau.

He said: "I will be seeking government approval that Bill 81 be proclaimed in order to protect New Brunswick's industry from the potential detrimental impacts of the decision taken by the Chicken Farmers of Ontario and the Régie des Marchés Agricoles et Alimentaires de Québec."

The New Brunswick legislature passed the poultry processing law in June 2009 but the cabinet never put it into effect. The law was deemed necessary as Quebec-based Groupe Westco moved to buy New Brunswick chickens and have them processed outside of the province.

CBC reports that the agriculture minister said in June 2009 – when the legislation was first introduced – that he was concerned Westco's actions could drive the existing Nadeau plant out of business, and that the legislation would allow for a cooling-off period between the companies.

Groupe Westco had announced it was joining forces with Quebec-based Olymel to build a new slaughterhouse in northern New Brunswick. In December 2007, Westco said that it wanted to start moving some chickens to a Quebec-based processing plant while building a new facility in Clair, New Brunswick.

Earlier this year, both the Competition Bureau of Canada and the New Brunswick Court of Appeal refused to block the export of New Brunswick chickens to Westco's Quebec plant.

Nadeau responded by trying to import excess chicken from Ontario and Quebec to its plant, a move that has now been thwarted by the chicken producers in those provinces.

Nadeau Poultry Farm announced in August that it was laying off 175 of the 340 people employed at its Maple Lodge near Edmundston because of the poultry dispute, concludes the CBC report.

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