Ontario Agriculture

The network for agriculture in Ontario, Canada

Here's something from the Toronto Star...

If you're eating organic turkey this weekend, savour it, because by next Thanksgiving it may be easier to buy crack cocaine in Ontario than a drug-free bird.

Here's why: While the turkey industry marketing board tells growers to confine their turkeys indoors to reduce the chance of transmission of viruses from wild birds, new organics standards administered by the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency mandate raising organic birds outdoors.

Caught in this Catch-22 are turkey farmers Matthew and Janice Dick – organic farmers who wanted their birds to roam free outside. They recently took on the Turkey Farmers of Ontario at an appeals tribunal in what amounted to a battle between antibiotic-free, open-air, small-scale farming and drug-intensive, confinement, factory farming. The organic farmers lost.

The Dicks raise birds on an 80-hectare certified organic farm in Markdale, about two hours northwest of Toronto, along with pigs, cattle, chickens and about a half-dozen organic crops. Their farm looks, well, a lot like the way farms used to look in Ontario.

Organic turkeys get about 25 per cent more space than in the industrial system and take 14 weeks to grow to about 10 or 12 pounds, compared with 10 weeks in a factory barn. They're also fed an organic vegetarian diet, with no genetically modified crops, antibiotics or animal by-products such as pig fat, blood or bone meal. Many organic livestock farmers also try to raise heritage breeds to increase genetic diversity, hardiness and flavour.

Perhaps most important, the birds have full access to pasture so they can live a relatively natural life basking in fresh air and sunlight.

"You'll get a more natural taste with a bird on grass," Matthew says of the birds. "There's certainly more flavour to it."

He also argues access to outdoors is crucial for the health of the birds. "You give the turkey everything it requires: fresh air, outdoor exercise and no stress. If they run into a problem, they're going to have the immune system to deal with it. You just have to look at human flus. When you're in a confined situation, you're under more stress and things spread easier."

If you want to see the rest of the article - click here - http://www.thestar.com/news/ontario/article/708416--turkey-wars

They are pretty tough on conventional production. Should they be? Is this bad for the production practice or bad for the marketing board? Maybe both?

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This is an other example of self interest and closed market policies that trying to push their ideas onto others, through the regulation legal system,and stiffle competion in the market place. When you have two or three big produces writing policy and not allowing others to operate using different methods. I think the Dicks should be allowed to raise their birds as they see fit. As long as the meat is deemed safe and they have proven desease measures in place.

I find most regulational pratices and code of conduct have a agenda behind them, and when reading them, agreeing to them and voting for them, you must look at who has the most to gain. Specially if written by the government.
The organic farmers should be able to develop an outdoor system that can reduce the chance of transmission of diseases...
Define confinement...there should be a way to keep everyone happy.

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