N.S. TURKEY BOARD STRIKES AGAIN
In another move, seen by many as the Nova Scotia Turkey Marketing Board’s effort to wipe out small growers in the province, Larkin Brothers of Prince Edward Island has been informed it may no longer serve a market that’s taken as many as 12,000 poults a year from their farm in Hunter River. . . .read more
For the past five years, and for years before through a previous purveyor who retired, selling out to Larkin Brothers, Harvey and Paul Larkin have provided Nova Scotia feed mills with two to two-and-a-half week-old started poults, which then were purchased by small growers through their local farm store like Co-op Atlantic or Sure Gain.
Not any more. The last week of February a letter from Sonya Lorette of the N.S. Turkey Producers Marketing Board, same as clamped down on small abattoirs like Gordon Fraser's just before Thanksgiving last year, informed the Larkins they were no longer in the game.
Is it retribution?
The reason, or only reason offered, was that they were not a hatchery. They are not. But it could be more. The Larkins have traditionally bought day-old poults from Cuddy Farms in Ontario and grown them out in their 15,000 square foot barn until they were hardier and ready to disperse through the mills and stores. Turkey poults are notorious for their suicidal tendencies, and taking them through that perilous early two weeks was beneficial to all who would buy the “hardened” birds.
But last summer, the Prince Edward Island entrepreneurs received a bill from the Turkey Board saying they owed a dollar-a-bird levy for poults sold to Nova Scotia growers the previous spring. This made no sense. Any levy had been taken at the retail level. They consulted a lawyer. To the lawyer it made no sense, and so, says Harvey Larkin, a letter was sent to the Turkey Marketing Board essentially saying there were no grounds for the claim. There was no reply, says Paul Larkin. Then came the notice in February.
While dropping the bomb on Larkin Brothers, the Turkey Board informed would-be small growers and vendors through the following advisory paraphrased here:
“Important notice to free range license holders and vendors: This notice is to advise that you are not to order poults from Larkin Brothers. as he is not a registered Hatchery. . . . Any free range license producer or vendor that orders poults from a business that is not on the list will jeopardize their status as a free range producer or Vendor and subject to a monetary penalty.”
The notice was accompanied by a list of hatcheries in Quebec and Ontario where one might obtain day-old poults.
The Larkin brothers are set back but far from out of business. Although the Nova Scotia market accounted for about 70 percent of their poults, they raise and market their own chickens and turkeys grown without antibiotics and continue to sell poults throughout Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.