Thursday, December 15, 2016

Processors escalate war with marketing board

The Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Processors Association is escalating its confrontation with the marketing board that serves growers.

It has begun cancelling orders amidst talk of a “perfect storm,” quoting Don Epp, executive director of the processors’ association.

He says the distress is caused by an outdated growers cartel (i.e. the Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers Marketing Board) increasing production costs, and threats from the Trump administration to tear up NAFTA while adding a 20 per cent Value Added Tax to any produce that crosses the border.

Association President Karl Evans says the group has contacted Agriculture Minister Jeff Leal about those matters.

A few months ago Leal cancelled proposals from the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Board to take away the marketing board’s price-negotiating powers. Leal has instead called for consultations.

At the time, commission chairman Geri Kamenz raised concerns that Ontario’s vegetable processing sector is in serious decline. He has resigned as commission chairman, effective the end of the year.

Evans says he’s concerned that time is running out for seed and crop allocation orders.

He feels the marketing system used is restrictive, and allows contracted producers to act as a cartel, setting a single price for the whole sector without looking at long-term economic consequences.

It’s the strongest attack that Ontario processors of any commodity have launched against marketing boards.