The Exceldor poultry cooperative was back in the news this month for destroying more live chickens—an unspecified “thousands” compared to the waste of more than a million last summer during a labour dispute.
This time, the Quebec company said it was la faute du fédéral—the tired old French-Quebec finger-pointing at the federal government. “Exceldor attributes the situation to delays accumulated since September in the processing of requests for temporary foreign workers by the federal government,” reported the Terre de Chez Nous on January 12.
Similar reports were published in other media, with emphasis on causes and blame varying according to the outlet. The overall labour shortage and Covid absences clearly add to a complex crisis.
While some media may have taken Exceldor’s blame bait, the farmers’ unions didn’t. The same Terre de Chez Nous article quoted the president of the Union des Producteurs Agricoles (UPA), Martin Caron, as saying that the situation could have been avoided if Exceldor had talked to Quebec’s poultry union.
Farmers don’t take kindly to the waste of their food any more than the animal- and food-loving public does. “Exceldor responded [to the poultry union’s December request for a contingency plan] that it wasn’t necessary,” Caron said. “That’s why farmers are frustrated today with the euthanizing, even though they’re compensated.”
Farmers had even offered their own workers to help Exceldor with its production delays. “We can catch [the chickens] ourselves. It’s not a problem to reassign employees to the task,” La Terre was told by Julie Patenaude, who raises chickens and sells organic feed and chicken through her Ferme Bio-rard in Ange-Gardien.
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