The Turkey Farmer of Ontario marketing board and the Association of Ontario Turkey Processors have reached an agreement that will phase out fees producers pay the board.
In May the board imposed a COVID-19 Emergency Fund license fee on producers in the amount of $0.06 per kilogram of turkey marketed, in order to generate a fund for COVID-19 response purposes. The Regulation imposing the License Fee had a term attached.
Now the board has agreed to phase out the fee by 0.005 per kilogram per week, which means it will be gone by May.
It was originally an issue under dispute and resulted in the processors filing an appeal with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal Tribunal.
But after the appeal was filed, they reached an agreement an Jan. 13 to wind down the fees by April 25.
The tribunal hearing went ahead as scheduled on Jan. 25, but was a formality to solidify the agreement as a directive from the tribunal.
Both lawyer Herman Turkstra, representing the processors, and lawyer Geoff Spurr, representing the turkey board, said a tribunal order gives the agreement “some certainty of conclusion” of the fees.
Turkstra said the industry has been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, including employee absenteeism and higher costs for ensuring employees’ health and safety.
It ranks as one of the most unusual tribunal hearings I have attended over a span of more than 40 years.