A chicken processor in northwest New Brunswick has secured a two-month supply of chickens from Quebec, giving the plant a temporary reprieve.
Nadeau Poultry, which is located in the village of Saint-François, near Edmundston, had been at risk of closing in June when it’s expected to lose its chicken supply from Nova Scotia.
But the new deal should keep the doors open — and about 240 employees working — until the end of August, said Carol Gardin-Frazer, the corporate communications officer for Maple Lodge, Nadeau's parent company.
"It's good news," she said. "We've managed to replace about 70 per cent of the broiler supply that we've lost to Group Westco and their partners."
Nadeau has been in a four-year battle with Group Westco, a company owned by local chicken farmers that plans to open its own rival slaughterhouse.
Group Westco, Nadeau's traditional supplier, has been sending its chickens to their partner Olymel’s plant in Quebec since 2009, pending the construction of its own plant in Clair.
Still seeking government help
Gardin-Frazer said Nadeau’s latest supply deal with Quebec is not a long-term solution.
Although a moratorium on Quebec chickens being exported to other provinces for processing has been struck down by the courts as an illegal trade barrier, that decision is currently being appealed.
And Nova Scotia is getting its own processing plant in June, ending that supply.
Nadeau still wants the New Brunswick government to create new rules that would guarantee the company a supply of chicken, said Gardin-Frazer.
Nadeau currently has the only chicken plant in New Brunswick and once controlled all poultry processing.
Westco wanted to buy the Nadeau plant, but was turned down, so it’s building its own facility.
Nadeau has tried to fight Westco's plans through a series of legal challenges. But those have failed.
Most recently, the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear an appeal from Nadeau Poultry.