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by BETTER FARMING STAFF
Later this month, the Farm Products Marketing Commission will ask the Farm Products Appeal Tribunal to throw out producers’ appeals of the commission’s ruling last fall stripping Ontario Pork of its hog marketing powers.
The plans were laid out in a letter, dated Jan. 29, that Commission lawyer Robert H. Jaworski sent to the Tribunal. Better Farming obtained a copy of the letter, which was distributed to appellants.
The letter says the producers’ appeals “are not made in good faith” and the appellants “have not demonstrated sufficient interest in the subject matter of the appeals.”
Reached in his vehicle this morning, Dashwood producer John Vander Burgt, Huron County Pork Producers, wondered what “not demonstrated sufficient interest” means.
“Are they saying we should have been there in July? I’ve heard that before from (Farm Products Marketing Commission Chair Geri) Kamenz that if producers had concerns that they should have been there in July, and (former acting chair) Elmer Buchanan said that too.”
Vander Burgt said; “They are saying that because it was one of the busiest and toughest years in a long time, that we should have taken five days off during a period when we were still trying to plant and get ready to harvest wheat, with the understanding that we should have been there instead of depending upon the Pork Producers the marketing board to represent us.”
Ontario Pork represents “all of us,” Vander Burgt said.
“Basically they are saying that (the appellants) aren’t really important enough to listen to.”
Elbert van Donkergoed, representing appellant Rein Minnema, is reserving comment until he has studied the letter. His client is out of the country.
Geri Kamenz, Commission chair, says the words used in the letter are legal terminology and based upon legal precedent. “You are getting beyond my scope,” he told Better Farming.
“I was under the understanding that Farm Products was supposed to represent the industry and all producers and make sure they were being treated fairly,” Vander Burgt said. “Obviously that is not the case.” BF
Update: February 12, 2008
On Feb. 10, Elbert van Donkersgoed, representing appellant Rein Minnema, filed a letter with the Tribunal about the Commission's Jan. 29 letter. His letter made the following points:
- These requests have no place at a pre-hearing conference. A pre-hearing conference is just that — a conference. It is not a hearing. We have agreed to attend a conference and do not expect to find ourselves at a hearing on arrival.
- The Commission’s letter can only be regarded as a listing of requests to be dealt with when the hearing itself commences.
- Based on section 24.01(d) of the Rules of Procedure for the Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal Tribunal a pre-hearing conference is limited to “the identification of preliminary motions to be undertaken.”
- As per the Tribunal’s procedures, the Tribunal panel leading the conference will be different from the panel hearing the appeal [Rules of Procedure 24.08 (b)]. Only the panel hearing the appeals can consider the requests that the Commission is proposing.
- The Tribunal is in receipt of the signatures of 35 pork producers who are aggrieved by the Commission’s decision, similar to Rein Minnema’s grievances. The Huron County appeal represents about 15% of the pork producers in the province. This is a much large number of producers than the handful of pork producers that have badgered Ontario Pork about marketing approaches for more than a decade; dominated the July 2008 Commission hearing and mislead the Commission about the marketing benefits that Ontario Pork delivers to pork producers.
Hog Industry talks break down