Suzanne van Bommel has been appointed chair of the board for the Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers (OPVG) for an initial two-year term, with the possibility for reappointment for a maximum of 10 years. Four directors have also been appointed.
First, some background on Suzanne van Bommel. She is co-owner of HAR MAR Farms in Belmont, Ontario, managing a 560-acre cash crop operation, including corn, soybeans and peas. With more than 30 years of farming experience, including a hog finishing livestock operation, she has honed her skills in business risk management and regulated marketing.
Currently, as president of The GPS Group, a government relations firm, van Bommel provides specialized public relations and issues management services to those within agriculture and agri-business, food and beverage, and energy sectors. Previously, as chief of staff for the minister of what is now the ministry of agriculture, food and rural affairs, she was responsible for managing operating budgets, strategic planning, human resources, policy development and program delivery. Within this role, she also developed extensive knowledge of supply management.
Van Bommel brings extensive board governance and committee experience while serving on the following boards: St. Thomas Elgin Caring Cupboard Food Bank, St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital Foundation, St. Thomas Elgin Architectural Conservancy Association, St. Thomas Elgin Public Arts Centre.
She holds a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education from the University of Western Ontario.
On September 26, four new board directors were announced including: Eric Allaer, Michael Denys, Tom Hebblethwaite and Chris Stewart.
Eric Allaer - Port Lambton, Ontario
• 33 years of farming experience
• Currently operates 3500 acres, producing tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, seed corn, field corn, soybeans and wheat
• Current turkey producer
• Previous OPVG District 1 committee chair
Michael Denys - Wallaceburg, Ontario
• 41 years of farming experience
• Currently operates 300 acres with his son, producing sweet corn, seed corn, green beans, peas, soybeans and wheat
• Previous processing tomato, cucumber and pepper producer
• Current president of the Chatham-Kent Community Health Centres board
• Previous chair and member of the Ontario Seed Corn Growers Marketing board
Tom Hebblethwaite - Blenheim, Ontario
• 41 years of farming experience
• Currently operates 1000 acres with his son, producing tomatoes, corn, seed corn, soybeans and wheat
• Previous cucumber, pepper, seed corn, soybean, squash, wheat, and burley and black tobacco producer
• Previous chair and member of the Seed Corn Growers of Ontario
• Previous chair and member of the Ontario Black Tobacco Growers’ Association
Chris Stewart - Cedar Springs, Ontario
• 35 years of farming experience
• Currently operates 1500 acres, producing tomatoes, seed corn, soybeans and wheat
• Previous broccoli, cauliflower, green bean, black fired tobacco and cabbage producer
• Previous member of the Seed Corn Growers of Ontario board
• Previous member of the Ontario Black Tobacco Growers’ Association board
The four appointed directors will hold their positions for a one-year term at which time elections for these positions will be held.
Source: Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission September 22, 2017 and September 26, 2017 news releases.