by SUSAN MANN
The Ontario Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal Tribunal has released the reasons behind its decision to deny a Burford area grower a licence to grow tobacco.
In May, the Tribunal upheld the Ontario Flue-Cured Tobacco Growers’ Marketing Board’s decision to reject Violet Osztrovics’ application for a licence to produce a crop this year because it was concerned she had applied on behalf of her son, Victor.
The board wasn’t prepared to give Victor a licence because he previously contravened its regulations on several occasions, it says in the tribunal’s June 11 written decision. The reasons come two weeks after the tribunal handed down its May 28 ruling to uphold the tobacco board’s decision. Violet requested an early release of the tribunal’s ruling because she needed to get the tobacco crop in the ground if her appeal was successful.
The tribunal says the 69-year-old Burford-area farmer can apply again to get a tobacco-growing licence if she can provide a clear, detailed and transparent plan, satisfactory to the board, setting out Victor’s role, if any, in tobacco production on the farm. She’d also have to provide the board with satisfactory evidence that Victor accepted and agreed to be bound by the plan. There would also have to be a mechanism outlining what would happen if Victor violated it.
“Violet’s evidence was unsatisfactory on the crucial issue of what Victor’s role would be if a licence to produce tobacco were granted,” the tribunal’s decision says. “Bald assurances are not sufficient to address the tribunal’s concern that Victor’s presence on the farm will result in further contraventions,” the decision says.
The tribunal says following a tobacco board hearing in 2008 a crop Victor owned was destroyed. In 2009, he failed to disclose 15 acres of tobacco and didn’t have a purchase contract for those acres. Also in 2009, the tobacco board sent Victor an invoice for $3,698.99 in detention costs involving his crop and that amount still hasn’t been paid.
The tobacco growing licencing system has been in place since 2009. It replaced the previous quota system and requires growers to obtain contacts from tobacco buyers before they’re issued annual licences. It’s administered by the tobacco board.
In reaching its decision, the tribunal says it acknowledges some of Violet’s criticisms of the reasons given by the board in its rejection letter for her application. “The tribunal accepts Violet’s evidence that she did not make her application on behalf of Victor and the board’s perception that this was the case may well have been wrong,” the decision says.
Violet couldn’t be reached for comment. BF