Rick in the News

The Chatham Voice: MPP’s Oppose Vegetable Marketing Plan

August 16, 2016

(Photo Taken by Diana Martin; Chatham Daily News, 2014)

Local MPPs Rick Nicholls and Monte McNaughton have come out swinging against plans to remove the collective bargaining powers of the

Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers.

McNaughton, (Lambton-Kent-Middlesex) said the proposal by the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission is a misguided attempt to correct a system that isn’t broken.”

“For 70 years, the system has been good for the processor and the grower,” he said. “It provides a stable price and has allowed the industry to thrive.”

Under the proposal, an advisory committee would essentially replace the provincial body, although details of the committee haven’t been provided.

McNaughton said on occasions when the processors and growers haven’t been able to bargain a price, the matter has gone to arbitration which has at times favoured each of the two sides. “It’s a good system of checks and balances.”

“This has serious consequences for the 400 vegetable growers. The uncertainty will force some out of the market.”

He said he has held two public meetings with farmers and the overwhelming sentiment is that the change is unnecessary.

Nicholls said of government claims that there has been consultation, “I don’t believe a word of it. We’ve done more with the meetings we’ve held here than the entire Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs,” he said.

He said he questioned the motives behind the 45-day consultation period that expired August 12.

“Farmers are in harvest, this is one of the busiest times of the year,” he said. “They don’t have time to respond and I think that’s what they (provincial officials) were hoping for.”

He said he’s written to Minister Jeff Leal.

“I’m appealing to his more noble motives. This just isn’t right and he should know that.”

Nicholls said the elimination of collective bargaining would pit farmer against farmer and place them at the mercy of any unscrupulous processor.

“This will put growers, especially the small ones, at a serious disadvantage when it comes to bargaining with multi nationals.”

Both MPPs urged farmers to write to the minister and sign petitions being circulated throughout the rural community.

“They have to respond so let’s make them sit up and take notice,” Nicholls said.

Chatham Daily News Article: “MPP’s Oppose Vegetable Marketing Plan”