The Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers (OPVG) calls new marketing regulations proposed for tomato and carrot growers a “sham process” that will put the balance of power in the hands of processors.
The organization released a statement Dec. 18, the first comments made since Ernie Hardeman, Ontario’s minister of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs announced the latest in changes to OPVG marketing regulations last week.
The changes open choice for growers of processing tomatoes and carrots to choose via secret ballot whether they will negotiate with a processor collectively, or individually.
Historically, the OPVG has negotiated pricing on behalf of producers with processors for numerous processing vegetable crops. That will continue for crops other than carrots and tomatoes.
The OPVG says the process as set out would allow processors to choose growers they want to negotiate with.
The proposals set up contracts that will last three years.
“We have spent considerable hours assessing how the recently announced regulations will impact the tomato and carrot growers but also the impact to the other commodities we represent,” said Dave Hope, chair of the Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers (OPVG). “We will need to analyze the regulation in detail to determine the depth of hurt to the sector. The largest impact is a reduction in collective bargaining power being removed from the growers’ elected representatives and handed to the processors.”
Hope was appointed chair of the board by Hardeman, replacing Suzanne Van Bommel who was appointed chair of the board after the elected board was dismissed by the previous Liberal government.
Farm gate sales for processing vegetables were just under $90 million in 2019.