Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Joint venture wins tribunal tomato-industry case

Integrated Farming Inc. has won its appeal to gain a licence to grow processing tomatoes next year.

The Ontario Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal Tribunal has ruled that the Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers marketing board had no justification for denying the licence.

During the hearing, general manager John Mumford testified that the joint venture between grower Art DeBrouwer of Eau Road Farms and Highbury Canco Corp. is a ploy to lower Highbury’s costs to acquire tomatoes.

But Highbury president Sam Diab said the motive is to learn more about growing tomatoes, to bring Highbury’s resources to the partnership and to enable Highbury to advertise products as moving direct “from our fields”.

DeBrouwer called it “a marriage made in heaven” because it would reduce his risks and holds potential to increase his business as the joint venture succeeds.

The tribunal ruled that Highbury does, indeed, contribute value to the joint venture, that there is nothing in the board’s rules and regulations that precludes this joint venture, that Highbury is justified in forming the joint venture rather than contracting production from Eau Farms and wrote that it does not agree with the Board’s view that the IFL joint venture would open the floodgates to other similar arrangements.”