ABBOTSFORD—The BC Farm Industry Review Board has approved K&M Farms’ application to continue its practice of annualizing its production of pasture-reared chicken.
Annualized production means that instead of growing an equal amount of chicken each production cycle – five a year for roasters or seven for broilers – a grower’s yearly quota is grown in just three cycles.
K&M started its pasture-reared poultry business in Abbotsford in 2001. By 2005, its production had increased enough to warrant being named and regulated as a new entrant producer by the BC Chicken Marketing Board. However, the farm continued to produce its annual allocation (about 31,800 kgs) in just three cycles.
In 2017, the BCCMB offered all new entrant growers, including K&M, the opportunity to increase their quota to about 20,000 kgs per cycle (about 130,000 kgs per year). Additionally, a buy-one, get-one offer could further increase it to as much as 40,000 kgs per cycle.
K&M took advantage of the offer, agreeing both to build a new barn for the additional production and to produce it on the conventional seven-cycle basis. However, it insisted on maintaining its existing pasture-reared production on an annualized basis. The BCCMB rejected this, saying it would result in over and underproduction, which could lead to penalties from the Chicken Farmers of Canada. K&M appealed the board’s decision to FIRB, saying its pasture-reared poultry represents a tiny fraction of BC’s overall production and has not resulted in penalties in the past.
Although FIRB was critical of both sides, saying “both parties have been blind to each other’s objectives,” they sided with K&M, agreeing that K&M’s pasture-reared chicken is filling a niche in the BC market and unlikely to unduly impact the province’s production commitments.
It therefore approved K&M’s annualized production of pasture-reared chicken for 2018 and 2019 and demanded the board consider “a fulsome SAFETI (strategic, accountable, fair, effective, transparent and inclusive) analysis” of future requests by K&M to annualize its pasture-reared poultry production.
In a rare move, FIRB apologized for the long delay in making its decision. K&M filed its appeal in March 2018 but FIRB released its decision in mid-May 2019.
“The (FIRB) panel needs to acknowledge the role our delay in issuing these reasons has caused. The uncertainty around K&M’s production could and should have been resolved months ago.”
The acknowledgement is noteworthy since the three-person panel included both FIRB chair Peter Donkers and vice-chair Al Sakalauskas and could signal an intent to speed up decisions in future appeals.