Notre-Dame-de-Stanbridge: a day in the Benoît Fontaine empire

Notre-Dame-de-Stanbridge : une journée dans l’empire Benoît Fontaine

Benoit Fontaine

We had the chance to meet Benoît Fontaine, President of Chicken Farmers of Canada (CFP), and renowned entrepreneur in the poultry sector, on one of his three farms in Notre-Dame-de-Stanbridge.
I offer you a little look back in pictures on this instructive day and this inspiring journey!

A major project

Benoît Fontaine

A former high school Canadian history teacher and the youngest director of his school board, Benoît Fontaine left the education network in 2012 to devote himself to the family business alongside his father Marcel and his mother Lucille. A project that has taken on the appearance of an empire, because the Benoît Fontaine group today has three farms, 11 buildings on three floors (10 for chickens, 1 for turkeys) and a total area covering nearly 400,000 square feet. Notre-Dame-de-Stanbridge is itself the largest henhouse authorized by the Régie du Bâtiment du Québec, with 50,000 square feet of living space.

Take over

The bird did not fall far from the nest, since the Fontaine family has been raising broiler chickens since 1970. At the time, Benoît's grandfather, Charles, started 100 chickens at a time, a major feat! Today, Benoît Fontaine can boast nearly half a million chickens per cycle, a massive production but no less responsible.

The green chicken

Benoît Fontaine

At the Notre-Dame-de-Stanbridge farm, several ecological measures have been taken such as animal compost which eliminates transport and disease vectors, but above all a circular water system unique in the industry. Its 11 artesian wells connected in a single network contain filtered, sanitized and biologically softened water, water whose quality does not allow bacteria to develop. Thanks to its natural anolyte and catolyte solutions, we disinfect the henhouse, wash clothes, dishes and tractors. Everything is produced using electricity, salt and reverse osmosis water. A circular, economical and ecological practice!

As for animal compost, this saves transport and eliminates all possible disease vectors. Its valorization is then carried out on the surrounding fields of field crop producers.

And what about technology in all this?

Benoît Fontaine

It is, among other things, thanks to agricultural technologies that Benoît Fontaine's farm is so efficient and innovative, being itself equipped with automated and intelligent management. According to the President of the PPC, “it is important to be equipped with technologies and to have data, especially with large buildings. It makes a big difference at the end of the year, because of rising costs and shrinking profit margins for producers.”

He adds that agricultural technologies increase animal welfare, reduce human errors, monitor and correct the situation if necessary. They also ensure better profitability and reduced labor costs.

Many challenges

Benoît Fontaine

Strongly involved in the UPA for 20 years, Mr. Fontaine has held the position of Quebec Delegate in Ottawa for 8 years, including 5 years as President of the Chicken Producers of Canada, making him the 2nd youngest president and the 2nd oldest long tenure to date. It represents the 2,800 chicken producers across the 10 provinces, closely follows free trade negotiations with Canada, and defends recurring issues in the sector.
Although it is the favorite animal protein of Canadians with a consumption of 35.1 kg per year per person, chicken represents other major challenges. The role of the President is, among other things, to ensure that consumer confidence is maintained through quality control in the 10 provinces, and to promote the brand image of Canadian chicken internationally.
A position that pushes Benoît Fontaine to have to juggle between his responsibilities as a leader in the sector and his obligations as an entrepreneur.

The new generation of the Fontaine empire

It was surrounded by his family, his 8 employees and his next generation that he achieved this feat.

Not having children himself, Mr. Fontaine recently appointed Pascal Monnier as the future buyer of the company by unrelated transfer. A great first in the poultry sector in Quebec, and a great gesture of intergenerational trust. After 6 years in the company, the 27-year-old young man owns 1 of the Group's buildings out of 11, registered under the name of his own company Volailles Monnier Inc. He also took care of the management of the farm when Benoît Fontaine absent to fulfill his obligations as President.
“I recruited him on social media. Pascal was raised on a dairy farm and I saw in him a strong interest in the poultry sector and great potential. He is a hard worker, available and loyal,” adds Mr. Fontaine about his protégé.

It is therefore without fear that we can affirm: the succession of the Benoît Fontaine empire is assured.

Benoît Fontaine and his successor Pascal Monnier

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