Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Cucumber deal reached

Cucumber growers for Hartung Brothers Inc. have reached agreement on terms for this year’s hand-harvested crop.

Negotiations continue for machine-harvested cucumbers.

The Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers Marketing Board is facing tough negotiations this year following interventions by the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission followed by a response from Ontario Agriculture Minister Jeff Leal.

Former commission chairman Geri Kamenz called for negotiations about the commission's proposal to take price-bargaining power away from the marketing board.

He cited the persistent decline in the Ontario fruit and vegetable processing sector.

Then Leal intervened to put Kamenz’s proposal on hold and called for further consultations.

That’s where matters still stand with the association representing processors insisting that it wants an end to the marketing board’s involvement in pricing and the board and a broader group of marketing boards and general farm organizations insisting that those powers must remain with the board.

The key crop is tomatoes and there the politics are particularly interesting because Heinz pulled out of Leamington and now a group of former Heinz managers have set up Highbury Canco to continue processing tomatoes at the plant.

Last year Highbury Canco formed a joint venture with a tomato grower and the marketing board objected. That issue ended up before the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Tribunal which ruled that the joint venture can operate in the industry.

The board argued that forming a joint venture undermines minimum pricing and might, therefore, become the industry standard for tomato production for processing.