Fruit & Vegetable Magazine

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New blood


February 11, 2010
By Marg Land


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There’s something about the first few months of the new year that make people’s thoughts turn to cleaning house.

There’s something about the first few months of the new year that make people’s thoughts turn to cleaning house.

Days after the Christmas decorations, fruit cake pyramids, and noise
makers get packed away at the local department store, the displays of
plastic tote boxes, organizational tools and cleaning products take
centre stage. It’s almost like society is saying: “The fun is over.
It’s time to get your house in order.”

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It would appear the same sort of instinctual urge is also present in
farm organizations and political parties. There’s been a fair amount of
“cleaning house” occurring across the country as farmers prepare
mentally for the new season.

The movement began Jan. 14 with the announcement that Conservative
Drumheller-Stettler MLA Jack Hayden would be Alberta’s new minister of
agriculture and rural development, taking over the post from Highwood
MLA George Groeneveld, who has been booted out of the provincial
cabinet.

Thoughts on the new addition were mixed among Alberta farmers. “He is
just another of (Ed) Stelmach’s puppets and won’t be doing anything
different,” said one anonymous poster to the Calgary Herald’s website
while Rod Scarlett, executive director of the Wild Rose Agricultural
Producers, was quoted as being hopeful Hayden comes with a “clear slate
and is willing to listen.”

The next change to be announced was the election of Grey County apple
producer Brian Gilroy as the new chair of the Ontario Fruit &
Vegetable Growers’ Association (OFVGA). The decision was made during
the organization’s 151st annual meeting where past chair, Brenda
Lammens, announced she was stepping down from the position she had
filled for the past three years.

Gilroy is no stranger to the OFVGA. He has been involved with the
organization since 1990, serving as chair of the property section and
vice chair of the association. He is also chair of the Ontario Apple
Growers.

“This is a critical time for horticulture as we are facing challenges
on many fronts that are affecting the viability of our farms,” he
stated when accepting his new position. “As chair, I am looking forward
to working with our government and industry partners on behalf of all
Ontario fruit and vegetable farmers.”

We here at Fruit & Vegetable Magazine wish Brian the best in his
new position and thank Brenda for her many years serving Ontario fruit
and vegetable growers.

Other new directors joining the OFVGA include Lonnie Duwyn (asparagus),
Jim Veri (greenhouse), Norm Charbonneau (small fruit/berries), Jason
Verkaik (fresh muck vegetables) and David Lambert as the organization’s
new property section chair.

Well Brian will be working with some new blood in the Ontario
agriculture ministry. A week after the new OFVGA chair was announced,
the Ontario Liberals announced a cabinet shuffle and Huron-Bruce MPP
Carol Mitchell was appointed the new minister of agriculture, food and
rural affairs. She replaces Leona Dombrowsky, who has been moved to
education.

While Ontario Federation of Agriculture president Bette Jean Crewes
welcomes the opportunity to work with Mitchell and looks forward to a
“smooth transition,” Ontario Tender Fruit Producers Marketing Board
(OTFPMB) chair Len Troup informed Tiffany Mayer of the St. Catharines’s
Standard that he hopes Mitchell can quickly get up-to-speed on the
important issue of a risk management program for Ontario’s fruit and
vegetable producers. “It is a potential hurdle,” she quotes him as
saying.

Meanwhile, in Quebec, that province’s Revenue Minister Robert Dutil
will be serving as the interim agriculture minister. Current
agriculture minister Claude Béchard is in hospital following a
recurrence of pancreatic cancer. He was originally diagnosed with the
disease in 2008 and had a lesion and tumour removed. His current
recurrence was discovered while doctors were performing a hernia
operation.

According to Quebec Premier Jean Charest, Béchard is looking forward to returning to work.

Change; new blood; cabinet shuffles; musical chairs – who knows what
other changes will face the industry over the coming months. Half the
excitement comes from waiting to see.


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