Lake George egg farmer hopes licensing idea will hatch
Aaron Hiltz says quota system stifles farmers
An Aylesford farmer who's in trouble with the Nova Scotia egg marketing board wants the province to consider licences instead of a quota system.
Aaron Hiltz sells pastured eggs on his farm in Lake George. His 800 hens, he said, are free to roam in fields and don't live in cages, offering customers something different when they buy eggs.
But according to the Nova Scotia Egg Producers' market plan, any farmer with a flock of more than 100 needs to buy a quota worth thousands of dollars. The agency is threatening to fine Hiltz if he doesn't comply.
Hiltz told CBC's Information Morning he wants to meet with the Minister of Agriculture to talk about another option.
"My new idea is a licensing program, very similar to the free range chicken and turkey licensing program that Nova Scotia has. So farmers already that are going to farmers' markets that have connections with consumers can apply for an increase, they can obtain a license for a certain number of birds," he said.
"It allows the existing producers to start to meet their increased demand that they already have. So if a person has a large market, say like myself, [he] could apply for a larger number. But a young person who say wants 200 birds could as well apply and grow their business accordingly without being stifled by high entrance costs."
Hiltz said the licensing program for free range chickens and turkeys was created 20 years ago when there was a similar dispute with the Chicken Farmers of Nova Scotia board. Now there are 35 farmers with free range licenses compared to 84 commercial producers.
Hiltz said customers in Nova Scotia deserve options.
"The industry is at a place where they're not supplying the natural products," he said. "They're at a crux to meet that demand."