by SUSAN MANN
Ontario’s turkey processors are slated to appeal prices set by Turkey Farmers of Ontario in February.
But representatives of both processors and growers say they would rather negotiate a settlement on the live prices than have the matter settled through a hearing before the Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal Tribunal.
Jeff McDowell, a member of the Ontario Poultry Processors Association turkey committee, says processors are concerned the rising costs of corn and soybeans are going to “drive costs into the system.”
McDowell says the processors maintain producers should share in those increased costs with processors. The association’s turkey committee represents three processors that process 90 per cent of the tonnage in Ontario.
“Processors cannot accept the full weight of all those costs,” he explains.
“We don’t disagree that live pricing should go up,” McDowell says, noting they proposed an increase but not one as high as the one proposed by the board of Turkey Farmers of Ontario. “Our increase and our position reflects a sharing of the increases so they take some and we take some versus we take all of it.”
The hearing has been scheduled for Feb. 17 in Guelph
Despite the differences in pricing proposals, the committee would rather continue negotiations than go to a hearing because “we’ve had a very good working relationship with the board over the past number of years,” McDowell says.
Bill Mailloux, Turkey Farmers vice-chair, says they’d also rather continue negotiations. “If we can avoid a hearing, we’d like to do that.”
Mailloux says there was a pricing formula in place from 2006 to May 2010. Since that time “we’ve priced on a monthly basis and sometimes it was every two months,” he explains.
The last pricing agreement went from September, 2010 to the end of that year. “The first part of January we agreed to price again and that’s when the difference came about,” he says, noting the Turkey Farmers board set a price and that’s being appealed by processors.
He says they’ll continue talking but “if the differences are still there the process is to go to an appeal hearing.”
Mailloux says he can’t go into any details about the negotiations or about proposed prices because the hearing has been put in place. McDowell says it isn't fair to discuss the details publicly until the matter is concluded.
Turkey Farmers represents 190 farmers across Ontario. BF