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N.B. to restrict live chicken exports

The New Brunswick government is introducing “temporary” legislation that would require all chickens raised in the province to be processed only in designated plants.

Agriculture Minister Ron Ouellette said in a release Tuesday that the amendment to the Natural Products Act is meant to prevent the province’s poultry producers from “making changes in the trade patterns for live chickens that would cause a dramatic disruption to the regional economy.”

The province cited a recent decision by New Brunswick’s three largest producers to temporarily ship their live birds to other provinces’ facilities for processing purposes starting this summer. That decision has caused “unrest” in the chicken sector, the province said.

Those producers’ move would also deprive the province’s chicken-processing plant, Nadeau Poultry Farm, of most of its supply of live chickens from New Brunswick, and in turn force the processor to downsize its operations and lay off some of its 340 employees, the province said.

The amendment, Ouellette said, “will only be proclaimed as a last resort and it will also have a sunset clause so that it can only be deemed a temporary measure until the current difficulties in the sector are overcome.”

Nadeau, meanwhile, is appealing a decision by Chicken Farmers of New Brunswick to deny the company’s request of imposing a plant allocation system, which would have guaranteed a supply of live chickens to the plant. The New Brunswick Farm Products Commission is to consider that request later this month, the province said.

The amendment is a “precautionary and temporary measure” in case a solution isn’t reached through that appeal process, the province emphasized.

New Brunswick last year produced about 37.5 million kg of chicken, worth about $50 million, the province said.

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