Ontario group leaves national grain body

Grain Farmers of Ontario has dropped out of Grain Growers of Canada.

The Ontario organization, which represents about 28,000 barley, corn, oat, soybean and wheat farmers in the province, cited a lack of representation in the national policy group.

GFO publicly announced its withdrawal in a news release, days after it informed the national organization of the decision.

“The voice of grain farmers is needed at national policy discussions in many areas, however at this time, our farmer-members’ voices are not being represented in key areas effectively through GGC,” the statement said.

GGC is responsible for lobbying the federal government in Ottawa, but GFO had concerns that key advocacy work “would be hampered or undermined by conflicting GGC narrative.”

The Ontario organization, headquartered in Guelph, said in a statement it was “unable to overlook issues with the structure of the organization and personality conflicts” and was “concerned with governance and regulation compliance.”

GFO now plans to lobby the federal government on its own behalf, having a number of people already registered to do so in Ottawa, the organization said.

Jeff Nielsen, chair of GGC, promised to continue advocating for all grain growers.

“We’re united, we’re focused on moving forward. We speak for all commodities, we know that’s what we have to do,” he said, adding there weren’t any “major issues” between the organizations.

At a December board meeting some challenges were discussed, and Nielsen said changes were implemented.

The loss of a significant member like GFO affects the national organization, but Nielsen said he doesn’t set the GGC’s agenda based on numbers.

“We want to represent our members equally,” he said. “That’s how we were designed.”

Nielsen expects the two organizations to continue working together and is open to Ontario grain growers rejoining the national organization.

“You never close the door in agriculture, you always leave that door open and keep the lines of communication moving,” he said.

On its website, GGC said it represents 65,000 farmers through 16 regional grower groups, but those numbers include GFO membership.

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