“An organization no matter how well designed is only as good as the people who live and work on it”. Congratulations to all the producers and EFA staff on a successful fifty years.
EFA and the amazing producers have spent a half a century together – what better cause for an amazing gold celebration! The success that EFA has seen over the last fifty years doesn’t just happen overnight, it takes hard work and dedication to the industry.
Though the EFA name has been changed several times over the past half century, the organization’s core reason for remaining unchanged, as does EFA’s commitment to building a successful and sustainable egg industry.
In 1968, an estimated 31.2 million dozen eggs were produced to feed the population of 1.5 million people. In 2017, Alberta egg farmers produced 61.2 million dozen eggs to feed 4.3 million Albertans. Today there are over 170 registered egg farming families raising over 2.5 million laying hens.
EFA’s top-10 accomplishments from the past decade, in no particular order:
- Market growth – we have enjoyed 10 straight years of growth in egg sales and production. Over the past 10 years Alberta has witnessed a 40% increase in issuance, and a 42% increase in the number of eggs produced annually.
- Sustainability – we developed a comprehensive sustainability strategy, which lead to the creation of our 4 pillars – Healthy Birds, Healthy Eggs, Healthy Farms and Healthy Communities – the publication of the Canadian egg industry’s first Sustainability Report, and multiple stakeholder engagement sessions. We are working with egg farmers and industry stakeholders to cultivate a sustainable egg industry in Alberta, while building public trust with Albertans.
- Enhanced food safety and animal welfare – we decided to make minimum scores and performance on the on-farm animal care and food safety programs mandatory, and it has been nearly 10 years since all farmers were required to be accredited in the Start Clean – Stay Clean program. Average scores continue to improve every year, despite adjusting and strengthening both programs, demonstrating egg farmers’ passion for caring for their hens and producing safe, nutritious eggs.
- Hen housing innovation – we initially oversaw the transition from loose housing into cages 50 years ago, due to food safety benefits and ease of management. The past 10 years have seen Canada’s first enrichable and enriched housing systems be installed on Alberta egg farms, and we are now overseeing the transition away from conventional housing. The egg industry has proven to be adaptable, to both shifting consumer demands and science-based evidence of what is in the best interest of the birds.
- PEEP – we launched the Producer Environmental Egg Program, the Canadian egg industry’s first on-farm environmental program. PEEP is focused on beneficial practices related to manure management, byproduct use, water consumption, and energy efficiency. Alberta egg farmers have embraced this voluntary program, expanding their knowledge and making gradual improvements to demonstrate their commitment to environmentally responsible farming, seeing the average score increase from 60% to over 80% over the program’s first five years.
- Net-zero barn – we partnered with Alberta Agriculture and Brant Colony, to develop and build the egg industry’s first net-zero barn, to showcase the type of innovation that is only possible via collaboration with multiple stakeholders. The net-zero barn is a tremendous learning opportunity for egg farmers across the province, and has become one of our most engaging stories on social media, to explain the complexity and practices of modern egg farming.
- New Entrant Program – we launched the New Entrant Program to help grow and expand the provincial egg industry, and are proud to have welcomed 20 new egg farming families to our flock. All but one of the new entrants are already in production, and combined they are caring for over 120,000 laying hens. In the spirit of continuous improvement, we have made modifications over time, and are always exploring opportunities and ideas to further enhance the program.
- Quota Leasing Pool – we developed the Quota Leasing Pool to facilitate more efficient quota leases and ensure that there is equal access to quota for all egg farmers. Most of Alberta’s egg farmers have already participated in the pool, as either a leasor or leasee, demonstrating how EFA’s commitment to a core founding principle is still going strong 50 years later.
- Egg Ambassadors – we have witnessed a growing desire among consumers to learn more about where their food comes from and how it was produced. It has become absolutely vital to have a team of trained egg farmers prepared to engage consumers to educate, dispel common myths, and build public trust. We are proud to now have more than 40 such Egg Ambassadors!
- Food truck – we worked with AdFarm to run a contest to find a local chef to partner with, to help launch an egg-themed food truck. You’ll hear more about this after lunch, but Chef Jordon and the Crack’d YYC food truck is now serving up delicious egg dishes to Calgarians, with a side order of education and support for the egg industry!
The last decade has certainly been a successful one for Egg Farmers of Alberta, and the entire provincial egg industry! Our success is not ours alone to share. It is with huge thanks to our producers, value chain partners and industry stakeholders for making Alberta’s egg industry what it is today!