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New Brunswick Diverts Chickens

New Brunswick’s

provincial government has temporarily ordered that all chicken produced in the province must be processed at its only federally inspected poultry plant.

Agriculture Minister Ron Ouellette on Jan. 20 issued orders directing all chicken production to Nadeau Poultry Farm’s plant at St-Francoisde-Madawaska and putting a temporary moratorium on any increases of chicken exports from Ontario and Quebec.

The province said the orders are meant to maintain jobs, noting Nadeau, a wing of Ontario meat packer Maple Lodge, has laid off about 165 workers at the St-Francois plant.

The layoffs follow Nadeau losing a key supply of birds when New Brunswick poultry producer Groupe Westco moved to process its birds outside the province. Westco and Quebec packer Olymel have an agreement to build a $30-million joint-venture poultry plant at nearby Clair, N. B. – until which time their agreement called for Westco to ship birds to Olymel plants in Quebec.

Westco on Jan. 23 said it’s made a proposal to Nadeau, under which Westco would supply poultry to Nadeau as long as Ouellette’s order is in effect. But Westco also proposes that the chicken processed under this

agreement would be returned to Westco/Olymel, to be marketed via the “Sumnymel” partnership.

Chicken Talks End

Russian chicken importers have begun seeking alternative suppliers, including Thailand, as talks with U. S. experts ended on Jan. 21 without a commitment to reopen the biggest U. S. export market.

Russia, which spent $800 million on U. S. poultry in 2008, has banned imports from its largest supplier on concerns about the common U. S. practice of treating the meat with chlorine to kill bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Both sides said, however, progress was made.

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