© AgMedia Inc
by BETTER FARMING STAFF
It’s going to take a few months longer than initially thought to merge Ontario’s corn, soybean and wheat commodity organizations.
At their annual meeting held Monday, Ontario Corn Producers’ Association delegates learned the merger would take effect in the fall. June was the original target date.
Dale Mountjoy, back for another term as president of the Corn Producers’ board, says once “we started into the nuts and bolts” of the merger, it became clear that more time was needed to arrange legal and legislative details.
Despite recent concerns raised about the merger, Mountjoy says he received “clear direction” from annual meeting delegates to “carry on.”
It will cost $450,000 to merge the association with the Ontario Soybean Growers and the Ontario Wheat Producers’ Marketing Board. Cherpa Consulting Corp, a Toronto-based change management firm, is assisting staff with the transition.
An appointed board and CEO will lead the new organization, to be called Grain Farmers of Ontario, until elections for 150 delegate positions and 15 directs begin in Jan. 2010.
Mountjoy says the merger will generate benefits rather than savings.
Earlier this month, a group of farmers in Ontario’s southwest complained about the handling of a producer vote on the merger, held last fall.
Cash cropper Tim Mullen of Essex County says the voter turnout of 17 per cent of the 28,000 farmers eligible to vote cast ballots in the September mail-in ballot was way lower than the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission’s criteria of 50 per cent of eligible voters and 66 per cent of those who voted being in favour of the merger. The Commission held the vote.
A Dec. 12 press release from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said 4,639 producers cast ballots with 70.4 per cent of them voting in favour of creating Grain Farmers of Ontario. The “yes” ballots represented 72.2 per cent of the eligible acreage of the ballots.
Commission chair Geri Kamenz says even though people choose not to vote, ‘we still move forward in new directions,” he says. “The opinion rendered was well over 70 per cent that supported the move.”
The group, of which Mullen is a member, has outlined its concerns in a letter to Ontario Agriculture Minister Leona Dombrowsky in January.
Mountjoy says no major concerns about the merger were raised at the corn producer’s meeting. BF © AgMedia Inc
- with files from Susan Mann