Ont. seed corn growers back regulated marketing

The seed corn marketing board has worked for producers and processors since 1940, says industry official

DRESDEN, Ont. — Jeff Wilson, past-chair of Seed Corn Growers of Ontario, sees no sign that the marketing board will meet the same fate as Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers.

Both marketing boards are regulated under the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Act, which provides them with the authority to collectively negotiate contracts with their respected processors.

“Regulation 440 has been working very well for us. We’ve never had to go to final offer arbitration,” Wilson said.

“The seed corn industry is stronger for both the processor and the producer because of organized marketing, and we support Regulation 440.”

Last summer, the government-appointed Farm Products Marketing Commission announced its intention to open up Regulation 440 as it applies to the OPVG for change. That was widely interpreted as a move to take away the OPVG’s power to collectively negotiate prices with processor on be-half of growers.

A small number of growers supported the move, but most have been opposed.

Provincial Agriculture Minister Jeff Leal intervened, but the subsequent industry discussions failed to resolve the issue to the satisfaction of the provincial cabinet or the commission.

Wilson said he knows of no instance, since the seed corn marketing board was created in 1940, in which contracts failed to be successfully negotiated without resorting to final offer arbitration.

That’s not been the case with the OPVG, but according to processing vegetable board supporters, the negotiation process encourages both growers and processors to make reasonable offers. Even when final offer arbitration is required, the two sides have never been too far apart.

There are about 260 seed corn growers, most of whom farm in the Municipality of Chatham-Kent in southwestern Ontario. They’ll be growing close to 19,000 acres of seed corn for the six seed companies that operate processing facilities in the province.

Grant Craven, vice-president of operations for Pride Seeds, said growers and processors both want to maintain a vibrant seed corn industry. As a result, co-operation and negotiating in good faith are important, he added.

“At the end of the day, the seed corn board does a consistent job at getting good contracts settled.”

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