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An open letter to Jeff Leal: Concerns about general manager recruitment


July 26, 2017
By Processing Vegetable Growers’ Alliance

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July 26, 2017, Ontario – This letter was sent to Hon. Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and the Farm Products Marketing Commission on July 21, 2017.

The Processing Vegetable Growers’ Alliance and the growers it represents have serious concerns about the recruitment of a new general manager for the Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers (OPVG).

After the elected OPVG board was dismantled by the government and the Farm Products Marketing Commission, the Processing Vegetable Growers’ Alliance (PVGA) formed to represent the interests of growers of the 14 different processing vegetable growers in Ontario. Our goal is to restore a fully elected OPVG board that would, among other duties, lead the hiring process for a new general manager.

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We have two distinct concerns with the process being undertaken to fill the general manager position for OPVG.

First, and most importantly, we believe senior level hiring decisions are best made by an elected board. Ontario’s processing vegetable growers deserve a say in the senior staff representing their industry.

OPVG and other commodity organizations generally hire their own staff. This practice builds trust between growers, their elected board and OPVG staff – a relationship that is particularly important for an organization that negotiates with processors on behalf of its grower members.

Secondly, we are concerned about the process being used to hire a new OPVG general manager. Currently, recruitment is being conducted by posting the position on two, relatively obscure, job sites. Given the importance of the general manager role – and the value of the processing vegetable sector to Ontario’s economy and the agri-food industry – we believe an independent professional recruitment firm is the most appropriate way to find the best candidate for this position.

We ask that you reconsider the hiring of an OPVG general manager and defer that important task to an elected OPVG board.

If this request is ignored, and the hiring proceeds, we strongly recommend the term be limited to a one-year contract to give the elected board the autonomy to determine the long-term suitability of a new general manager. Notwithstanding the foregoing, we reserve the right to challenge this decision and any other course of action taken following the improper removal of the OPVG board.

Francis Dobbelaar
Chair, Processing Vegetable Growers’ Alliance


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