Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Kamenz quits as overseer of marketing boards

Geri Kamenz is leaving at the end of the year as chairman of the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission.

He was president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture before taking the political appointment as overseer of marketing boards eight years ago.

He has been in hot water this year for proposing changes that would strip the Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers Association of its collective bargaining powers.

Farmers rebelled and Ontario Agriculture Minister Jeff Leal eventually cancelled the proposal.

Kamenz said the move to a free market system was needed in order to stop the decline of the industry.

In announcing his departure, Leal said "we appreciate Geri's leadership in providing direction and governance and thank him for his commitment in serving our agri-food sector and the people of Ontario over the past eight years.” 

Kamenz also stepped on the chicken board toes, saying farmers could not justify the premiums they were garnering in a market that was chronically short of chicken.

That led to several controversial interventions, such as rationing supplies among processors, then banning imports of live chicken from Quebec. Quebec did the same for Ontario chickens.

That policy has yet to be challenged as a violation of free interprovincial trade championed for decades by provincial premiers and Canadian prime ministers.

Kamenz also ordered an inquiry into governance at the egg marketing board, but has never revealed any reports from the investigation which may, or may not, be ongoing several years after it was commissioned.

The milk marketing board implemented two highly-controversial measures under his watch – a cap on quota prices and regulations to allow for lower-priced milk to stem the tide of imports of milk fractions.