Aug 25, 2016
Ontario berry grower groups consider merger

Ontario’s two berry grower organizations are proposing a merger to create one new organization. Ontario Berry Growers’ Association (OBGA) and the Ontario Highbush Blueberry Growers’ Association have received agreement from the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission (FPMC) for conducting an expression of opinion vote among all eligible growers of blueberries, raspberries and strawberries in Ontario. Berry Growers of Ontario is the new name proposed.

The new organization is not seeking any authorities related to pricing or control of supply. It will be directing its efforts towards marketing and promotion, research and grower advocacy.

“Our budget will be lean and modest,” said Jenn VanDeVelde, a berry grower and current director of the OBGA, “and will ensure that growers of each crop receive a fair allocation of resources towards that crop leading to more research, promotion and crop protection for every crop that we represent.”

The proposed board of directors of nine will be comprised of three growers of each of the three crops. If growers vote in support of the proposal and subsequently the establishment of a new board is supported by the FPMC and ultimately the Ontario Government, one of the key differences between Berry Growers of Ontario and the two existing organizations is that membership in the new organization will be mandatory rather than voluntary. Mandatory membership means that every grower of two or more acres of any combination of the three crops will be required to pay membership fees each year based on the number of bearing acres in production. This structure provides a fair and transparent way to fund the activities of the organization, the groups said in a press release.

The FPMC expects to conduct the vote in late October and early November. Producers must be entered in the FPMC’s database in order to receive a mailed ballot. Growers that do not currently belong to one of the two existing organizations need to inform the FPMC analyst, Laurinda Lang, so that they receive a ballot. Lang can be reached during business hours by calling 519-826-3242.

For more information visit the OBGA website, or call Jenn VanDeVelde at 519-427-4451 or Steve Kustermans at 519-619-7017.


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