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AUGUST 2019 • COUNTRY LIFE IN BC


Egg board set to get cracking on


quota distribution FIRB approves distribution method for next two cycles


by DAVID SCHMIDT ABBOTSFORD—The BC


Farm Industry Review Board has finally given the BC Egg Marketing Board approval to distribute the most recent quota the province received from Egg Farmers of Canada. For almost two decades, FIRB has required the BCEMB to get its approval before distributing any new quota. In December 2017, BCEMB


received an additional allocation of 108,741 hens but did not receive FIRB’s approval to distribute it until August 2018. Distribution, in turn, did not actually begin until October 2018. Last December, BCEMB


received another allocation of 202,110 birds (a 6.48% quota increase), necessitating another request to FIRB. This time, BCEMB not only asked FIRB to approve this proposed distribution but to also approve the same methodology for the next two allocations. The approval took a month less this year, with the BCEMB receiving word its proposal had been accepted in early July. BCEMB executive director Katie Lowe says the board will have distributed the first of the new quota by the end of July and expects eggs from that quota will show up as early as the beginning of August. “A number of our


producers anticipated the approval and have extra pullets ready to start laying eggs,” she said. Although FIRB provided its


approval at least a month sooner than it did for the 2018 allocation, it was still at least seven months later than EFC would have allowed. Lowe admits that


represents a lost opportunity for BC producers, saying “that’s why we requested approval of not only this allocation but the next two allocations after that.” FIRB supported that, calling a multi-allocation policy and procedure “sound marketing policy.” “This approach is


appropriate given the egg board’s forecast of steady market growth and … may support putting new layers into production in a more timely way,” it notes. BCEMB proposed a three- pronged approach to


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distribute the new quota. First, it will set aside about 28,000 birds for the New Producer Program (new entrants). Second, each producer using a fully enriched cage, free range or certified organic production system will receive 100 hens. Finally, the balance of the quota will be distributed on a pro-rata basis to all producers who can provide space for the additional birds. Producers are not restricted


to any particular production system or type. Lowe notes they can add birds to a conventional cage system (which still represents about 64% of BC egg production) if they have space available. However, if they need to add space to accommodate the increased quota, it will have to be in enriched cages, free run, free range or organic production systems. “BC egg producers haven’t been allowed to put in any new conventional cages since 2016,” Lowe points out. Producers are being given


30 days to tell the board whether or not they want the additional quota and when they expect to utilize it (which must be within three years). Although the board is setting aside almost 30,000 birds for its NPP, that will not lead to an immediate surge of new entrants. It proposed distributing that quota over five years, promising to give two new entrants a year quota of up to 3,000 birds. That remains a concern for FIRB, which told the board to


7


GET ‘EM WHILE YOU CAN: Pam Bullock fills her bucket with cherries at Mike & Lizzy's Cherry U-Pick in Kelowna. This year’s u-pick was the shortest it's been in 18 years, says Pam. After only five days, the orchard was out of cherries – or at least the ones fit to sell to the public as fresh eating. With 150 trees on leased land, she says she won't make enough to pay the bills as they installed new irrigation this year. Trees were already lighter with fruit when consistent rains resulted in splitting and a high incidence of fungus which has to be treated with sprays, adding to expenses. MYRNA STARK LEADER PHOTO


“consider starting NPP entrants ahead of the regular schedule of two per year as part of the next national allocation.” FIRB did, however, approve


the board’s proposal to not give new entrants a flat allocation of 3,000 hens but a varied amount (up to 3,000) based on market demand for the type of eggs the new entrants intend to produce and the markets they intend to access. Lowe says the NPP is a


work in progress. “We have made some changes to NPP policy to make it more robust and are reviewing it further. We may have different requirements for future draws,” she says, adding the next new entrant draw will likely be held in late 2020. In the meantime, hens being set aside for the NPP as well as those not immediately


taken up by existing producers are being placed in a Temporary Allotment Program (TAP). Existing new producers as


well as other producers will have the opportunity to lease hens from the program on a short-term basis (up to a year at a time). TAP’s goal is to allow the


province to produce “as many eggs as we can within the quota we are allocated,” noting consumers are demanding locally produced


eggs. Lowe says BC is not


producing as many eggs as the province consumes but admits the BCEMB does not know what the shortfall is. “We are conducting a study to determine if people in every region of BC have access to the types of eggs they want … and to identify how many eggs are coming from out of province,” BCEMB director of communications and marketing Amanda Brittain added.


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