Nova Scotia - Rick Wittenberg
Rick Wittenberg and his family have carved out a niche for themselves near Centreville, close to the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia. A second-generation farmer, Rick, his wife Gail, and their three children, all in their twenties, have a flourishing poultry operation. Their family business includes a broiler farm, a partnership in a feed mill, and a broiler breeding operation.
“We decided five years ago that we wanted to have a measure of control over our inputs (feed and chicks),” says Rick. He points out that the recent investment in both the feed and broiler breeding operations were significant, but that both led to more consistent business operations.
Efficiency and effective planning are critical in the poultry industry and much of the success of Canada’s chicken industry, Rick’s farm included, can be attributed to the stable policy environment that supply management provides.
“Our Canadian industry is a strong one . . . and we hope it stays that way,” he says. “We need to maintain the system but we, as producers, need to be ready for whatever happens.” Rick is quick to point out that he is taking a “wait-and-see” approach to the World Trade Organization negotiations and is not going to leap into panic mode just yet.
Thirty years of full-time chicken farming, plus the years he spent learning from his father before that have given Rick a positive overall perspective on agriculture and supply management. He has long been aware of how important it is to have a workable system in place, as his father was involved in the initial creation of the provincial chicken marketing system. “Born and raised a chicken farmer,” he says with a chuckle. “We’re on duty 24-7, but the independence of being our own boss is rewarding for the whole family. It takes hard work to produce a good product but that is what makes it all worthwhile.”
Rick’s farm continues to flourish, thanks to his attention to all the factors that go into raising quality chicken. The environment is ideal for raising chicken, as Centreville is in the picturesque Annapolis Valley, is home to a significant percentage of Nova Scotia’s chicken farmers.