by SUSAN MANN
An estimated 28,500 farm businesses have been identified as eligible to take part in the largest vote the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission has ever conducted, notes marketing analyst John Fitzgerald. The Commission, which oversees marketing boards in the province, conducts the vote and tabulates the results.
Starting in early September, The commission will mail a ballot to all farmers who marketed wheat, corn and soybeans in the last two years. will be asked to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to this question on a mail-in ballot: “Are you in favour of a single marketing board for corn, soybeans and wheat described as ‘Grain Farmers of Ontario’ in the enclosed information summary.”
Producers must mail their ballots by Sept. 30. “We would like a high voter turnout,” Ontario Soybean Growers Chair Leo Guilbeault says, adding they’ll be doing lots of advertising and asking directors to talk it up in their districts.
“We’re certainly going to do our best to make sure that every farmer out there knows that he should vote,” he explains.
Will the proposal pass muster in the countryside? “That’s up to the farmers who vote,” says Dale Mountjoy, president of the Ontario Corn Producers’ Association.
Corn Producers Association Fred Wagner, says most farmers he represents in his district encompassing Halton, Peel, Wellington, Waterloo and Dufferin favour forming the one organization. Wagner says he’s personally in favour.
“We’ve been working together with the three organizations on safety nets and other issues that have been important to the grain growers in Ontario so why not have this one organization and trim off some of the unnecessary duplication that’s still going on?” he asks, adding the duplication has already been reduced because the three groups talk to each other before making decisions about common issues.
Several producers in Lambton are unhappy with the way the proposal has been designed, says Tom Wilson, the corn producers’ association director for Lambton. He will definitely vote, but declined to state his personal views.
Farmers with questions can get more information. from a web site – www.grainfarmersontario.ca, or by calling 519-767-4134. There are also links from the corn, soybean and wheat groups web sites.
Seven producer information sessions are being planned across the province with the first one scheduled for Sept. 11 near Chatham, while the final one is slated for Sept. 24 in Chesterville. The full list of meeting dates, times and locations is on the web site. For those who can’t attend a meeting, a recorded presentation given by the three chairs at the information sessions will be posted on the web site.
The vote will be promoted at a booth at Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show running Sept. 9 -11, near Woodstock. BF