Ont. farmers to vote on crop boards’ merger

Farmers registered with Ontario’s corn, wheat and soybean growers’ groups will vote next month on a proposal for a single marketing board to replace the three boards.

The “expression of opinion” vote will be held between Sept. 9 and Sept. 30 at the request of the Ontario Corn Producers’ Association (OCPA), the Ontario Soybean Growers (OSG) and the Ontario Wheat Producers’ Marketing Board (OWPMB).

Uniquely identified ballots with pre-printed tonnages of corn, soybeans and wheat on which license fees were paid will be mailed by the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission beginning in early September 2008 to all known eligible producers, the three groups said Monday.

Anyone who is eligible to vote but who hasn’t received an information summary and ballot by Sept. 10 should call 1-866-764-2006, they said.

Eligible voters include farmers who have paid license fees to the OCPA, and/or OSG and/or the OWPMB in at least one of the last two fiscal years of the organizations; beginning producers who will be paying or have paid license fees in 2008-09; and sole proprietors, farm corporations, and each partner in a partnership.

The ballot question will be: “Are you in favour of a single marketing board for corn, soybeans and wheat described as ‘Grain Farmers of Ontario’ in the enclosed information summary?”

“Producers directed us through the resolution process to look at forming one organization, and we have spent four years doing just that,” OCPA president Dale Mountjoy said in a release. “We have developed a proposal for how Grain Farmers of Ontario might better represent producers, and now our members need to decide if that’s the case.”

The process began four years ago when the three boards signed a memorandum of understanding to form one organization. The memorandum was re-signed by the current chairs of each organization in April this year.

A series of seven producer meetings will be held between Sept. 11 and 24 to discuss the proposal.

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