January 21, 2020 By Fruit and Vegetable
In a statement released in mid-December, the Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers (OPVG) expressed concern regarding the new process for negotiating the sale of processing tomatoes and carrots. The OPVG asserts that the amended regulation, recently announced in December by Ernie Hardeman, Ontario’s minister for agriculture, food and rural affairs, “will devastate Ontario farm families.”
In Hardeman’s statement, he says that he amended regulation 440 in response to concerns about price negotiation and marketing systems for processing vegetables, specifically tomatoes and carrots. The amendments were made with the intention of addressing “the competitive realities in the province and [encouraging] growth and investment.”
The amended regulation will allow carrot and tomato growers to vote by secret ballot on how they want to negotiate with processors. Growers can vote to negotiate directly with processors individually or through a negotiating agency. The current system of group negotiation will not change for other processing vegetable growers.
However in response, the OPVG states that the amendment takes agency away from growers and allows “processors to choose growers they would like to negotiate with.”
“The largest impact is a reduction in collective bargaining power being removed from the growers’ elected representatives and handed to the processors,” says Dave Hope, chair of the OPVG. “We will need to analyze the regulation in detail to determine the depth of hurt to the sector.”
The new regulations also extend the length of an average contract to three years from two, helping provide more security for growers.
The OPVG represents over 300 processing vegetable growers in Ontario who produce a wide variety of crops, including processing carrots and tomatoes, which will be the subject of the updated regulation.
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