by BETTER FARMING STAFF
When the Ontario minister of agriculture simplified the regulations around re-accreditation of general farm organizations less than two weeks ago, the National Farmers Union-Ontario thought a new application to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture food and Rural Affairs Tribunal would simplify the process.
“We were just trying to streamline the process,” says NFU-O coordinator Ann Slater this morning. “That is not how it turned out.”
Instead, in a re-accreditation “decision” dated Nov. 23 and posted on its website yesterday, The Tribunal wrote it was concerned that “the NFU-O's request to withdraw the existing application and then immediately commence a fresh application may be an abuse of process in the legal sense.”
“The two applications are essentially the same,” the Tribunal decision says.
The online legal dictionary law.com defines abuse of process as “the use of legal process by illegal, malicious, or perverted means.”
The Tribunal ordered the NFU-O to make written submissions about the concerns it raised and invited the minister of agriculture to do the same.
Slater, an organic vegetable grower from St. Marys, says the NFU-O will respond to the Tribunal’s order this week. She insists “it is not the same application. It is an application under the new criteria which would have brought in more up to date evidence.”
“We were in consultation” with “OMAFRA, the minister’s office and other farm organizations,” before withdrawing its application made earlier this year and re-applying for re-accreditation. The NFU-O did not consult with a lawyer before re-applying. “We did not get our own legal advice. We are conscious of how money entrusted to us by farmers should be spent.
“We know that farmers are tired and don’t understand why this process is taking so long. We were trying to do our part to try and move things along and to do it in step with the other organizations.” BF
General farm accreditation archive