by SUSAN MANN
The abrupt resignation of Ron Versteeg from the Dairy Farmers of Ontario board at this week’s annual meeting has some dairy farmers concerned about political unrest within the organization.
During a question period on Thursday, delegates grilled board chair Bill Emmott about the issue. “It is a political organization,” he responded to one question, but he couldn’t provide any more details on the resignation. This isn’t the first time a board member has resigned, but it’s the “first time we had a resignation at the annual meeting.”
Versteeg, who represented Region 1 (Ottawa-Carleton, Township of Cumberland, Glengarry, Prescott and Russell) joined the board in 2005 and served as first vice-chair in 2013. Emmott said he resigned for personal reasons.
Versteeg couldn’t be reached for comment.
During an interview, Emmott said he was very surprised by Versteeg’s resignation and wasn’t given advance notice.
Emmott said there will have to be an election in the area for a new board member. The board will call for nominations and then “after that there will be a mail in ballot” for the area’s farmers to vote. The new board member will be fulfilling the rest of Versteeg’s four-year term, which is three years.
In other board members news, Henry Wydeven, whose election to represent farmers in Region 10 (Huron and Perth) this fall was contested by incumbent David Murray, took his seat at the board table for the first time Thursday afternoon.
Wydeven said “in my opinion” the election results are finalized. Wydeven said he knows there are other avenues “that Dave could go to and I’m not sure whether he will be doing that.”
photo: Graham Lloyd
Graham Lloyd, Dairy Farmers general counsel and communications director, said he doesn’t anticipate that Murray would further appeal the election results. Murray asked the board for it to reconsider its decision to declare Wydeven elected. But the board upheld its decision. Murray then took his appeal to the Ontario Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal Tribunal. The tribunal confirmed the board’s decision.
Wydeven won the election by just two votes. Murray wanted 10 ballots that were postmarked Oct. 30, 2013, and excluded from the results because they were past the deadline of Oct. 29, 2013, to be included and a recount done.
Lloyd said Murray has 30 days to appeal the tribunal’s decision from the date it was handed down, Jan. 6. “I do not anticipate that Mr. Murray will be appealing,” he notes.
Murray couldn’t be reached for comment. BF
Update: Better Farming has been advised that the resignation was for personal reasons.