In British Columbia, poultry and dairy don’t travel far from farm to table. The regulations and supply management systems in place ensure that farmers reap respectable profits for their hard work, and the public knows they are consuming the finest quality product, free of hormones and steroids.

Quotas in place

All dairy and poultry farmers are given quotas for each growing cycle. These quotas can be changed every eight weeks, and are determined by a large body of organizations collaborating for the common cause of effective supply management in the farming industry. Many factors are considered in determining them. If a farmer goes over, they have their quota for a future cycle reduced. In effect, the farming industry only makes as much as we need so there is no surplus or deficit.

“What supply management does is it allows us to receive a fair price for our product, so we don’t have to have massive farms, so we can continue the tradition of the family farm,” says Ravi Bathe, a BC chicken farmer. “We have a good system here. We know how much is needed. We know how much is imported. And we get a fair price for our product.  The price we receive for our product, however, does not reflect what the consumer pays in the store.  Retailers set the retail price of chicken, not the farmer.  It is interesting that in some countries where supply management was removed, prices is the stores either stayed the same or actually went up.”

Close proximity

In BC, most of the poultry farms are located in the Fraser Valley only 100kms away from Vancouver.  When it comes to dairy farms, most city centers have dairy facilities nearby. This means people can always have access to fresh, local foods. This lessens their environmental impact, as well as contributing a lot to the community.

“We provide numerous jobs for the local economy because it’s a local product, and because we are such a large part of our economy,” says BC dairy farmer Tom Hoodendoorn.

Highest standards

“The regulations and supply
management systems in place ensure that farmers reap respectable profits for their hard work”

When people buy locally sourced dairy and poultry, they are buying a heavily regulated product. Steroids and hormones have been outlawed in Canada since the 1960s, and there are many control measures in place to make sure that quality does not wane.

Every single load of milk is checked for bacteria and antibiotics. If there are any traces of antibiotics at all the entire batch is rejected, and the farmer pays a small fine. If it happens again, that fine becomes quite large. A dairy or chicken farmer can even lose their ability to produce if they don’t meet regulations.  Farm animals also live in much better conditions than in the massive factory farms of the US. 

“A lot of people don’t know that our chickens are free run,” says Bathe. “They can run freely throughout the barn, and have free access to feed and water 24 hours a day. All chickens raised for meat in Canada are raised this way.”