Growers of Ontario’s processing vegetable sector are proceeding with contract negotiations despite industry turmoil. Al Krueger, assistant manager, Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers, confirms that Cavendish Farms has settled on onions, with prices up slightly from last year. Hartung Bros, a green shipper, has settled on hand- and machine-harvested cucumber pricing, down slightly from last year. No contracts have been settled with Bonduelle which processes about $30 million of peas, sweet corn, beans, carrots and squash. March 1 is the deadline for negotiations with tomato processors.
Since last year, the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission has recommended that the $100 million sector turn to direct contracting with processors.
“We’re having a tough time with this concept,” says Krueger. “We don’t understand what benefit there is. Why do processors want to direct contract?”
Ontario’s agriculture minister Jeff Leal asked for an analysis of evidence for these proposed amendments. To date, there is no document in the public domain says Krueger.
The OPVG role is to negotiate prices, terms and conditions on behalf of growers. Processors then communicate with growers on such items as varieties, planting and harvesting dates.
Since Gerri Kamenz left the chairmanship of the commission in late 2016, Jim Clark is the interim chair. He is joined by vice-chair, Elmer Buchanan and the following directors: Valerie Hobbs, Bette Jean Crews, Robert Anderson, Dan Cohoe, Valerie Gilvesy.