by MARY BAXTER
It’s going to be a while before producers can vote on whether the Ontario Soybean Growers, the Ontario Wheat Producers’ Marketing Board and the Ontario Corn Producers Association should merge, admit spokesmen from two of the organizations.
Alan Kerkhof, the wheat producers’ chair, said the groups are setting up a working group committee to address the issues. He said it’s not clear yet if the committee’s membership will remain the same as was in place before the Soybean Growers’ board opted to pull out of the merger talks in November.
In December, after its semi-annual meeting, the board voted unanimously to return to the discussion table.
John Stafford, an outgoing director with the Ontario Soybean Growers who had initially voted to withdraw from the merger talks, has said board directors who voted to drop out of the talks were concerned about the contents of an information package intended to brief growers on the vote.
He suggested that the decision to withdraw was intended to slow the process down.
That’s precisely what has happened, says Kerkhof.
Kerkhof noted January and February had originally been slated as the time for producers to cast their votes.
Plans had also included announcing the results of the vote, which would be handled by the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission, at the groups’ joint annual meetings in early March.
“The results of the vote should have been known by then,” Kerkhof explained. “Obviously those timelines are gone.”
It’ll be up to the new working committee to put another timeline in place, he said.
While it’s unlikely there will be a vote underway by the time the annual meetings take place, Dale Mountjoy, the Corn Producers’ president, said he was sure there would be discussion about the merger at that time.
“This is a work in progress, it’s one step at a time,” said Mountjoy.
The annual meetings will be held in London on March 3-5. BF