Rick in the News

Blackburn News: Farmers Questions Left Unanswered

July 25, 2016

Town Hall in Leamington on Regulation 440

Town Hall in Leamington on Regulation 440

Photo by Ricardo Veneza (Blackburn News)

Concerns among vegetable growers in the area around Leamington heighten over a proposal that could see them lose their rights to negotiate with processors.

The proposed amendment to Regulation 440 was put forward by a provincial marketing board.

Over 100 local vegetable growers raised questions at a town hall meeting in Leamington Monday night.

One local farmer who voiced his opinion was David Epp. He says he fears that by taking away the right to negotiate it will result in a downward spiral for the industry.

“Once one processor finds one vulnerable grower and takes advantage, all other processors will be forced by local market forces to act in the same manner,” says Epp.

The proposed amendment leaves a 45 day consultation period – which ends August 12.

Epp says it’s not enough time to properly analyze the situation and it happens to be during their busiest time of season.

“There can be a proper process for countering a change of this magnitude,” says Epp. “A fully consultative process that is transparent and that requires more reflective time.”

Chatham-Kent-Essex MPP Rick Nicholls and PC agriculture critic Toby Barrett set up the meeting at town hall.

Nicholls brought up the fact that Leamington is no stranger to being hard hit in the processing field with regards to Heinz.

Both Nicholls and Barrett say they have sent letters to the Ministry of Agriculture with questions about the proposed amendment.

Barrett says taking away the right to negotiate a base price takes away the whole purpose in having the growers association in the first place.

With files from Ricardo Veneza.