by BETTER FARMING STAFF
A Tribunal panel which heard the National Farmers Union-Ontario’s case for re-accreditation back in the summer has called the organization to yet another hearing later this month. The leader of the organization is lashing back.
Ann Slater, NFU-O’s Ontario coordinator, who grows market vegetables on a small farm near St. Marys, does not feel there are any problems associated with the plethora of documents that the Ontario Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs AppealsTribunal has directed the organization to provide. She asserts that some have been provided to the Tribunal in the past. She is troubled by the position she perceives the Tribunal has taken regarding the NFU-O and who it represents.
“We are beginning to wonder if the Tribunal thinks the farmers we represent aren’t actually farmers.”
Slater describes the NFU’s membership as “a lot” of “small and medium sized family farms. Some are conventional, some grow non-GMO crops. Some are organic farmers and some sell direct to consumers. "They are certainly farmers in my mind.”
“We have provided many samples of the work we do as the NFU in Ontario on behalf of, and in representation of, Ontario farmers."
In a directive issued on Wednesday, the Tribunal panel directed the NFU to produce a litany of documents concerning governance, along with 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. Another hearing is scheduled in Guelph for Dec. 14.
Accredited farm organizations are required by regulation to represent farmers in Ontario, the interim order issued on Wednesday states. “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 directive reads.
“While the NFU-O's stated purpose may be to represent persons carrying on farming businesses, it is not clear to the Tribunal whether this is the NFU O's actual purpose or whether the actual purpose is to access funding under the Act in order to allow the NFU and NFU Region 3 to carry on their activities.” NFU Region 3 is the name assigned to NFU-O by the national organization.
“Much of this is based on the Tribunal sort of alleging that we don’t represent farmers in Ontario.” Slater asserts. BF
General farm accreditation archive