Photo at right: Wilma Jeffray
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by BETTER FARMING STAFF
The names of producers who petitioned for the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission hearing into Ontario Pork’s marketing powers are going to be made public before further proceedings continue.
On Friday, Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal Tribunal vice-chair Marthanne Robson ordered the Farm Products Marketing Commission to release the names of producers who signed the request for a hearing over four days in Guelph in July last summer that ultimately resulted in the Commission’s Oct. 6 decision to end the marketing board’s monopoly powers.
“There is merit in the Tribunal comparing the number of pork producers involved in the appeals before it and the number of pork producers requesting the original reconsideration of Regulation 419,” says a Notice of Motion prepared by agent Elbert van Donkersgoed on behalf of producer Rein Minnema, who is appealing the Commission’s decision.
Sara Blake, counsel for the Farm Products Marketing Commission, told Robson privacy laws did not prevent the names from being released. The Commission had declined earlier media requests for the names.
Ontario Pork has been asking the Commission for the names of the producers who signed the original petition from the beginning, says Wilma Jeffray, Belmore, new chair of the marketing board. “We’ve always been denied the request,” she says.
“There have been a lot of producers at meetings who wanted to know the names on the letter … If there is something that isn’t fully illuminated, there is always, rightly or wrongly, a perception that something is hidden. This will help make the process more transparent,” she said. BF