by SUSAN MANN
Lancaster-area farmer Peter Van Sleeuwen has been elected as the Dairy Farmers of Ontario board member for Region 1.
But the candidates have until April 22 to request a recount. Dairy Farmers held the by-election this spring after previous board member, Ron Versteeg, resigned at the annual meeting in January for personal reasons. Region 1 represents Ottawa-Carleton and the Township of Cumberland as well as Glengarry, Prescott and Russell Counties.
Van Sleeuwen, who milks 130 cows, beat out two other candidates for the position. He will serve the remainder of Versteeg’s term, which expires at the end of the Dairy Farmers annual meeting in January 2017.
As for what Dairy Farmers priorities should be, Van Sleeuwen says, “once you get to be one of them and see what the issues are at the board itself I think that will become clearer but the ingredient strategy is one that needs to get settled.”
The ingredient strategy, now called the new market environment for the Canadian dairy industry, is a long-term industry strategy to deal with its structural surplus (the solids-non-fat surplus that remains after the domestic demand for butterfat is filled) and encourage the production of value added milk ingredients for the domestic and export markets.
Van Sleeuwen says he decided to run for the Region 1 position because he could now commit the time “to doing this.” Van Sleeuwen says he has always been involved in his community “and I’ve always enjoyed working with producers and formulating and setting policy. Farming has been great.”
Serving on the board is also an opportunity to give back to the industry and “that’s why I want to do it,” he adds.
Van Sleeuwen serves on the Glengarry Dairy Producer Committee. He is also on the agricultural committee for South Glengarry and is a member of the charity organization the Knights of Columbus. He has also served on the Alexandria co-op board of directors for many years, organized a farm management club for his county and was on the St. Joseph’s parish council.
Dairy Farmers communications manager Laural Adams says by email if there isn’t a recount request, Van Sleeuwen’s first official board meeting will be at the end of this month. BF
Clarification April 21, 2014:
The number of votes each candidate got in the Region 1 election and other numbers connected with the election, such as the voter turnout, is not public information, says Laural Adams, communications manager with Dairy Farmers of Ontario.
Adams says the time set aside for a recount is standard procedure for every board member election and mentioning the deadline date doesn’t mean a recount is imminent. “We don’t expect that there will be a request for a recount” in the Region 1 election, she notes.
Some numbers did come out with the Region 10 election this fall and winter, she says, because the matter was referred to the Ontario Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal Tribunal “so a lot more information came out.” But “generally speaking it (the numbers) are considered confidential and we don’t share it.”
Adams did say the voter turnout for the Region 1 election was high but “we couldn’t give numbers.” BF