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Ontario Pork trims service fee

The board of Ontario Pork has approved a temporary 10-cent-per-hog cut in the service levy fees hog producers pay.

“For the time being producers will pay a reduced service levy fee from $1.75 to $1.65 per hog,” the pork marketing agency said in a release Tuesday, announcing its interim budget. The reduced fee took effect Monday.

The agency said the move would be a temporary first-quarter measure, “pending the new marketing environment” that followed the October decision by the province’s Farm Products Marketing Commission (OFPMC) to end Ontario Pork’s monopoly on the marketing of Ontario hogs.

“A new forecast budget will be created for the remainder of the year to include the separation of universal services and marketing fees,” the agency said.

“The board recognizes this is a temporary measure,” said Ontario Pork chairman Curtiss Littlejohn, a producer from Brant County, in the release. “Any increases or reductions to the fee structure will be subject to change once our implementation plan is approved” by the OFPMC.

Ontario Pork’s preliminary marketing implementation plan is due to the OFPMC by Jan. 15 and a completed plan is due by March 1.

Appeal requested

A Middlesex hog producer, Rein Minnema, said in a release Thursday he has formally asked the province’s Agricultural, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal Tribunal to set aside the OFPMC’s decision and order a hog producers’ plebiscite on the future role of Ontario Pork.

Minnema, well known for spearheading a 1999 class action suit against Archer Daniels Midland and other feed ingredient makers over the pricing of lysine, said the OFPMC’s decision on hog marketing will “force producers to compete against each other for market share rather than working together to increase buyer competition for all market hogs in the province.”

Elbert van Donkersgoed, a former policy advisor to the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario and Minnema’s “official agent” in this appeal, said in Minnema’s release that the OFPMC has erred in its decision to strip Ontario Pork of its power as Ontario’s sole marketer of market hogs.

The commission, he said, “allowed the July 2008 hearing to become focused on producer choice instead of the ability of Ontario Pork to deliver valuable marketing services to all market hog producers.

“The fact that a small number of producers want to opt out of Ontario Pork’s marketing services or want special arrangements is not evidence that the majority of producers of market hogs no longer need or support Ontario Pork’s authority to control hog marketing.”

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