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Ontario vegetable grower survey reveals desire for elected representation

A survey indicates a majority of Ontario's processing vegetable growers want a return to being able to elect growers to represent them, especially when it comes to negotiating contracts.

More than 100 processing vegetable growers responded to an online survey by the Processing Vegetable Growers' Alliance, which the organisation says confirms there is overwhelming support for the grassroots representation of a provincial board to negotiate prices.

“The survey responses from growers support everything the Alliance has been pushing for – a return to a fully grower-elected board with the authority to negotiate prices, terms, conditions and contracts for Ontario’s processing vegetable growers,” said Wallaceburg-area farmer Francis Dobbelaar, chair, Processing Vegetable Growers’ Alliance, said in a written release.

“Our findings support our serious concerns about why the government and Farm Products Marketing Commission have taken the steps that they have to disrupt our entire processing vegetable sector when it is not the wishes of most growers,” he added.

The importance of issues was ranked by growers on a scale of zero to 100 on the structure and role of the processing vegetable growers association. Having a say in the representatives who negotiate contracts, had an average rank of 92 by growers. Support for a fully-elected Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers (OPVG) board that negotiates contracts with processors each received an average rank of 90.

“The survey results are very clear – the vast majority of growers want a grassroots, grower-elected board and want their contracts negotiated by those board members they elected,” said Dobbelaar.

He also cited another survey ranking of 86 on the importance of the OPVG chair being elected by the board.

“This is the first time anyone has asked Ontario growers how they want to be represented since the OPVG board was dismantled,” Dobbelaar said.

A further 44 processing vegetable growers signed a petition in a show of support for the work of the Alliance “…to maintain our representation of a fully elected OPVG Board/Chair, and further the industry through the continuance of an Advisory Committee with all willing stakeholders at the table.”

The Alliance formed in March when the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission removed the OPVG board and senior staff, taking away the growers’ ability to choose the representatives who negotiate contracts with processors on their behalf. The Alliance represents farmers who grow 14 different types of processing vegetables in Ontario.

Publication date: 9/21/2017


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