by BETTER FARMING STAFF
After a daylong hearing before the Ontario Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Tribunal, representatives of the National Farmers Union–Ontario (NFU-O) still don’t know whether the Tribunal will accredit the NFU-O to represent its Ontario members.
NFU-O coordinator Ann Slater, speaking to Better Farming just after arriving home from the hearing in Guelph, says she doesn’t know when a decision will be made.
Slater says at the conclusion of the Friday hearing, both the NFU-O and representatives of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs asked the Tribunal for an oral decision with reasons to follow.
“They indicated they could not do that,” Slater says, “but that’s all they said.”
“We had a strong case,” Slater says, “the ministry put a strong case forward on our behalf. I have no idea what the Tribunal will decide.”
Asked whether further meetings are scheduled, Slater says no. “They haven’t indicated that they are planning to talk to us again.” Slater added: “I’m not sure we are prepared to talk with them again anyways.”
The Tribunal’s central issue, Slater says, is the relationship between the NFU-O and the national organization, the National Farmers Union (NFU).
“They seem to be very hung up on whether or not the NFU–Ontario is doing work on behalf of farmers in Ontario,” Slater says.
An interim order issued recently by the Tribunal states that accredited farm organizations are required by regulation to represent farmers in Ontario.
“It is unclear to the Tribunal whether the activities claimed by the NFU-O as representing farmers in Ontario are in fact carried out by the NFU-O, an Ontario corporation, or by the National Farmers Union (the NFU), a federal corporation based in Saskatoon with which the NFU-O is affiliated,” the order reads.
Leading up to the hearing, the Tribunal asked the NFU-O for documents relating to governance, the last three years of audited statements, a list of bank accounts and statements, employment agreements, phone bills, office lease, a breakdown of members by province and by category, and notices and minutes of meetings for the last three years. BF
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