In the late 1950s, Ontario’s chicken industry was in serious financial trouble. Processors and farmers were facing devastating financial losses. Over‑construction, over‑production and an absence of collective planning were bringing the industry to near collapse.
By the 1960s, supply had far exceeded market demand. In 1961 alone, production volumes increased by 23 per cent, live prices dropped as low as 12 cents a pound while the cost of feed and chicks stood at 17 cents a pound.
Desperate for a solution, local farmers looked to the Ontario Broiler Growers Association (OBGA) - a voluntary organization comprised of broiler producers – in hopes that an alternative marketing system would provide better management of the chicken industry and address the over‑supply problem.
A precedent to a supply management system was already in place: British Columbia chicken farmers had established a producer‑run, supply‑managed plan, and Ontario farmers gave the OBGA a mandate to work to achieve the same model, within the framework of the Farm Products Marketing Act.
The supply management approach that Ontario farmers had in mind would go far beyond the traditional concept of production without regard to consumer demand and stabilize production by helping to ensure that supply better matched demand. As a result, prices paid to producers would improve over time to reflect real production costs; producers would have a predictable income; and consumers would be guaranteed consistent access to top‑quality, affordable chicken – all principles that continue to guide chicken production today.
In March, 1965, Ontario chicken farmers put the concept to a vote, with 631 farmers voting in favor and 108 against. With this overwhelming majority, the Government of Ontario approved the formation of a chicken marketing board and gave it the designated authority to regulate the amount of chicken produced in order to avoid flooded markets and depressed prices. The Ontario Chicken Producers’ Marketing Board was officially established on April 26, 1965 and the model took hold from then on.
Following its success in Ontario, the Canadian Broiler Council encouraged then federal Minister of Agriculture Eugene Whelan to create a national agency to regulate the inter‑provincial movement and national import of chicken. In 1979, the Canadian Chicken Marketing Agency – now known as Chicken Farmers of Canada – was established.
Since its inception, Chicken Farmers of Ontario has evolved from a provincial marketing board into a world‑class industry regulator, farmer‑member business advocate and industry value‑chain partner. Today, Chicken Farmers of Ontario’s reputation is solidly built on the pillars of profitable growth, good governance, sustainability, continued innovation and, above all, providing responsible supply management leadership.