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Chicken farmers, especially specialized growers can now benefit from a new program announced by the Chicken Farmers of Ontario (CFO) that will in turn benefit consumers.
The CFO program will mean more opportunity — in a supply management system — for accessing locally grown, high-quality chicken and will appeal especially to smaller, independent, family farmers looking to meet local markets.
Farmer Melissa Baer writes on her website that “There [was] a rule that only permitted farmers who didn’t have quota to raise 300 chickens (with the intention of that law, that it was for family use only). This was terrible for farmers; it didn’t make any money, the start up costs were too high to make any real money or even JUSTIFY the start up costs required to produce 300 chickens.”
Called the “Artisanal Chicken” program (albeit an unfortunate name), farmers can produce 600 and 3,000 chickens annually (through a production license) “for select target markets such as local farmer markets,” according to the CFO website. There will also be opportunities for farmers wishing to raise more than 6,000 birds in the future as part of “Local Niche Market” program. The current small-flock program for those farmers growing under 300 birds per year has been renamed the “Family Food,” noting that the average “Family Food’ chicken farmer in Ontario grows approximately 65 birds a year.
All this is good news for people who want better and better-raised chicken, as Baer acknowledges. “Today is a day for celebration,” she says. “I think this is just the beginning. People are asking for what they want and this is a great day for food freedom!”