Ag minister dissolves OPVG board, appoints trustee
By Marg Land
March 3, 2017, London, Ont – Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Jeff Leal, has appointed Elmer Buchanan, a farmer and former provincial ag minister, as trustee of the Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers’ (OPVG) board.
“I have been closely monitoring the 2017 contract negotiations between Ontario’s tomato growers and processors and was recently informed by growers, processors and the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission (OFPMC) that negotiations have reached an impasse, jeopardizing this year’s crop season,” Leal said in a written public statement. “Risking this year’s tomato crop, and the thousands of jobs that support it, is something I am not prepared to do.”
According to Minister Leal, Buchanan will temporarily assume the powers of the OPVG board to negotiate 2017 contracts, until elections for a new OPVG board can be held, preferably before Dec. 31, 2017.
In a letter to the OPVG board dated March 3, 2017, OMAFRA Deputy Minister Greg Meredith explained that the government of Ontario was forced to take immediate action by making a regulation under the Farm Products Marketing Act.
“This regulation is now in force and has the effect of terminating the terms of office of the members of OPVG holding office immediately before the regulation came into force and terminating the terms of office of the members of each district vegetable growers’ committee holding office immediately before the regulation came into force,” Meredith stated in the letter addressed to “Negotiating Agency Members.”
“This was a difficult decision to make; however it was felt that action was needed to respond to what the government had heard from the OPVG itself, the [OFPMC] and industry stakeholders about the deteriorating state of negotiations and the need to ensure that negotiations continue so that contracts are in place for the 2017 processing vegetable crop.”
The Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Processors’ Association (OFVPA) sent out a press release March 3, 2017, supporting the provincial government’s announcement.
“Working with our grower partners, we believe there is an excellent opportunity for improvement that will benefit the whole value chain,” said Steve Lamoure, president of the OFVPA. “We look forward to working jointly with the OPVG, their appointed trustee, and our grower partners in putting together the details of this progressive move.”