Central Saanich is supporting calls that local chicken farmers receive permission to immediately raise their prices in the face of rising costs.
Councillors voted unanimously to support the Peninsula and Area Agricultural Commission (PAAC) in its efforts to help local chicken growers, by writing a letter to the Farm Industry Review Board. Central Saanich’s letter will ask the board to allow chicken farmers to raise their prices for poultry and eggs to reflect current production costs.
“Because the poultry industry is regulated as a commodity, growers are not permitted to raise the prices of meat or eggs,” PAAC chair Robin Tunnicliffe wrote to council, asking for their support.
While the board is aware of what Tunnicliffe called the “dire situation” facing chicken growers, it has indicated a decision on the matter could take a few more months. Growers would like see a decision sooner, she added.
The PAAC took up the issue after hearing from Dianne Williamson of Central Saanich’s Firbank Poultry Farm that local poultry farmers have been absorbing the increasing costs of feed and other expenses for the past two years.
Over an eight-week cycle, Firbank’s cost of chicken feed was $120,000 compared to approximately $90,000 at the same time last year, according to Tunnicliffe. “Many B.C. growers are finding it hard to keep their heads above water. New farmers, in particular, are finding it difficult as the returns are far less than anticipated.”
In short, chicken farmers as well as other farmers find themselves in a situation where the costs of their inputs rise with market forces, while their revenues are subject to regulations that do not move as fast.
Council more than sympathized with the request from PAAC, which advises Central Saanich, North Saanich, Saanich and Metchosin on matters involving agriculture.
Coun. Chris Graham predicted Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would only compound rising costs.
The two countries account for 12 per cent of all food calories traded in the world, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute, including almost 30 per cent of global wheat exports and nearly 20 per cent of corn exports. Experts fear the invasion will cut production in Ukraine, while western sanctions against Russia will curtail exports.
“This is going to be a huge challenge for all feed sources,” Graham said.
Coun. Niall Paltiel also pointed to high and rising energy costs as a challenge facing local farmers.
The Ministry of Agriculture said in a statement to Black Press Media that the current increase in production costs is not unique to farming and British Columbia but part of larger global inflation impacting products and countries all over the world.
“We know the increased cost for B.C. farmers is challenging,” the statement read in part. “The B.C. government has many programs in place to support B.C. farmers including income protection programs that offer assistance for crop losses and a decline in income due to market conditions, production loss or increased costs of production.”
B.C. farmers looking for information about government services and programs can reach out to AgriService BC by calling 1-888-221-7141.
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