Monthly Archives: July 2011

That Age-Old Question – Chicken or Egg?

Just as there is no answer to the age-old question of ‘which came first, the chicken or the egg?, the same can be said for the question of ‘which came first in supply management – corruption or lack of transparency?’.  Quite frankly the answer to both questions really doesn’t matter as long as it can be acknowledged that in both cases, they all exist.  What bothers me is the question of ‘why is there corruption and lack of transparency in supply management?’  The basic answer is that it’s there because it’s been allowed and as a result of this allowance, Egg Farmers of Ontario and the two largest egg grading stations are in the midst of a lawsuit that should illustrate this – unless of course there’s an out-of-court settlement.  If that should happen I sure hope that Ontario Farm Products and CFIA and OMAFRA don’t simply allow the continuation of the current (and past number of years!) practices of EFO and the two largest grading stations.  A change, maybe many changes need to occur.  In other words, EFO’s overseeing authorities need to do their jobs.  Just like EFO and the management of EFO needs to do their job.   It needs to be stated that EFO’s job is not to collaborate with the two largest grading stations in Ontario in order to prevent other smaller grading stations from expanding.  It’s not to manipulate the import of eggs to suit the fancies of the two largest egg grading stations and shut out other egg grading stations just because they can.  And if one reads and believes Norman Bourdeau’s compilation of documents, that’s exactly what’s happened.  EFO’s job is “to provide customers with a supply of high quality eggs at a fair price and a fair return to egg and pullet farmers within a stable national supply management system”.  And once again, if one reads and believes Norman Bourdeau’s compilation of documents, EFO is failing at that job.  If reading this article (and any previous articles) has led anyone to believe that I don’t support supply management, please let me clarify.  I’m an advocate for supply management – at least the intent of supply management.  I just think it should be transparent and without corruption.

Let’s consider the possibility of that possible out-of-court settlement I mentioned earlier.  I do hope that happens – especially for the egg producers, who are being led down the garden path – which is the same as being told only what EFO management wants them to hear.  It should be pointed out that this whole matter could have disappeared years ago.  An agreement to discontinue the legal proceedings had been brokered and encouraged by some egg producers but the management of EFO determined that was not in the best interest of the egg industry and they preferred to let the matter go to court.  I wonder if Norman Bourdeau’s compilation of documents is causing the management of EFO to question that decision.  Funny how transparency can do that.

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The Good Samaritan and the Ontario Egg Industry

Remember going to Sunday School as a child?  Now think of the story of the ‘Good Samaritan’.  Let me remind you of the characters and the basics of the story:

 

Characters   –      Jewish traveler, beaten, left by the road, half-dead

–        Priest (religious/authority leader of some kind), travelling down the same road

–        Levite, also travelling on the same road

–        the Samaritan, travelling down this same busy road

Story:  Beaten Jew, left by the road is seen by the passing priest and the travelling Levite. Both avoid the Jew, leaving him to fend for himself.  Then the Samaritan comes along, sees the beaten Jew in distress and helps him.

So what’s this parable got to do with agriculture?  Here’s how I see this story applied to the current state of the Ontario egg industry.

Characters    –     Supply Management System, beaten yet left in place

–        Ontario Farm Products Commission (authority over supply management system)

–        Ontario Egg Farmers (Management, Board and Producers)

–        Norman Bourdeau, the Whistleblower

Story:  Beaten-up supply management system is left operating by the Ontario Farm Products Commission and the Ontario Egg Farmers.  They simply will not ‘look’ at the broken-down system as being their responsibility.  Here comes the Good Samaritan, Whistleblower who says, “this system is broken – let’s see if I can help fix it”.

Seems to me, that even a child could see that being the Good Samaritan is the role that is the ‘right’ (ethical) choice.  So why don’t the Ontario Egg Farmers and the Ontario Farm Products Commission see that?  Are they really looking?  Maybe too much money involved, i.e. greedy?  How much proof is required?  Is being a Good Samaritan that scary?  Open your eyes and do the ‘right’ thing.  Make some changes before the Ontario consumer does it for you.

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