© AgMedia Inc.
by BETTER FARMING STAFF
LONDON – Producers approaching the microphones during a question and answer session at Ontario Pork’s annual meeting on Tuesday had one issue on their mind: Restructuring.
They wanted to know whether they could vote on final plans. They wanted to know how Ontario Pork would pay for the changes.
Most of all, they wanted to know, as Huron County pork producer John Vander Burgt put it, what board members thought of an Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission’s order that accelerates industry restructuring and removes Ontario Pork’s single desk marketing powers.
Here’s a summary of board members’ responses:
Clare Schlegel, Zone A, supports the plan and calls the Commission’s accelerated time line “essential” to retain Ontario’s share of global markets. The plan “put forward by Ontario Pork” would allow producers “fair and equitable” access to the marketplace.
Bill Wymenga, District 1, supports the Commission’s order although “they went a little bit further than I thought.” The restructuring plan reflects discussions with producers at a special meeting in June, he says.
Mary-Ann Hendrikx, District 2, agrees with the Commission’s decision but calls the time lines “unfortunate.” However, “we have to move ahead and the implementation plan is our plan for moving forward.” She notes the board held two policy days in 2008 to obtain producer feedback.
Teresa Van Raay, District 3, agrees with the Commission’s ruling and the board’s strategic plan. “I believe we came up with a very good plan.” However, “I cannot get it through my head why we had to come up and give our plan to a HIAC (Hog Industry Advisory) Committee after we had studied this for two-and-a-half years and expect them to understand where these recommendations come from.”
Phil Anwender, District 4, supports the Commission’s order and says the industry has had an opportunity to “buy-in” to the restructuring plan.
Jasper Vanderbas, District 5, says the process “got hijacked.” The Commission has not allowed restrictions on marketing agents. Had the board known this was a requirement when developing its strategy, “we would have drafted a different business plan.”
Stewart Cressman, District 6, supports the Commission’s direction. Too much time is being spent debating who has the right to make decisions. “What ideas have merit should come forward regardless of where they come from.”
Wilma Jeffray, Zone B, says, “it has been very painful to see our industry, especially the last two months, ripped apart.” She says time should be taken with restructuring.
Curtiss Littlejohn, District 7, says the Commission’s decision “is consistent with the direction that this board brought forward June 11 that the councillor body endorsed.” But “the process is wrong.” He calls it “about the most expensive and painful process I have ever gone through for change.”
Steve Illick, District 8, agrees with the order and says, “we are working towards what we talked about on June 11” at a special meeting with Ontario Pork councillors.
Barb Zettler, District 9, says the Commission’s order reflects the board’s plans for restructuring, “however the decision did go father than what we intended.”
Beth Clark, District 10, says the Commission “went too far.” She’s pleased to see producers appealing the order. She says the plan is the board’s.
Oliver Haan, District 11, does not support the Commission’s order. He says the parts of the order and implementation plan that include the board’s plans “are fine” but disputes other additions.
Marion Myers, District 12, supports the board’s plans that were approved on June 11. “The decision from Farm Products had no accountability behind it.” She says the Commission’s recommendations are different from the plans discussed on June 11.
Producers and regional associations have appealed the order with the Ontario Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal Tribunal. The Tribunal has stayed the order, scheduled to come into effect today, until a hearing. No date has yet been set for the hearing. BF