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by BETTER FARMING STAFF
The Hog Industry Advisory Committee may need a bigger table when it meets on Monday.
Rod DeWolde, Millbrook, chair of District 11, Peterborough County, says he feels comfortable attending committee meetings now that Ontario Pork will have representation there as well.
Ontario Pork withdrew from committee talks earlier this month, citing legal advice surrounding a stay on restructuring while the Farm Products Appeal Tribunal handles appeals from producers. Last week, says DeWolde, he and other Ontario Pork district chairs received invitations from the committee to attend their weekly sessions.
On Feb 17, the Ontario Farm Products Marketing chair Geri Kamenz sent an open letter to producers with a proposal to set fees that Ontario Pork would charge producers for “universal services.” The proposed fees are $0.80 a hog and $0.20 a weaner.
Ontario Pork's chairman Curtiss Littlejohn says Ontario Pork doesn’t know how the proposed fees were determined, and that has forced a rethinking of Ontario Pork’s position.
In spite of legal concerns about being at the discussion table during a stay of proceedings, according to Littlejohn, Ontario Pork’s board feels pork producers are even more at risk if Ontario doesn’t have a presence. The decision was made “after careful consideration,” he told Better Farming this morning.
“At the end of the day, producers need to decide what producers want Ontario Pork to do and what they are prepared to fund to make that happen.”
Kamenz told Better Farming shortly after noon that he was unaware of Ontario Pork’s return. "I don't respond to rumours."
The commission chairman’s letter said the fees were based on those charged in other jurisdictions. Part of the fee Ontario producers pay to their marketing board funds about $1.7 million of pork industry research. By comparison in Manitoba where nine million pigs are sold annually producers pay $500,000 for research.
Dewolde and District 11, which he chairs, is now in the thick of the debate following the Farm Products Marketing Commission ruling last October.
DeWolde says producers in districts 10, 11 and 12 have joined forces to appeal the new governance structure that Ontario Pork forwarded to the commission last December. DeWolde says “it is complicated” but producers from Dufferin County all the way east to the Quebec border say the governance structure was developed hurriedly under an unreasonable deadline imposed by the Commission. “We are quite concerned that this whole process is moving along too quickly,” he said.
“We as producers were working through that process. We feel that decisions were made incorrectly” because of the tight timeline. BF