THE VOICE OF ONTARIO'S FRUIT, VEGETABLE
AND GREENHOUSE PRODUCERS FOROVER 150 YEARS

Resolutions 2019

The following resolutions were presented by member organizations of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers' Association (OFVGA) at the 2019 Annual General Meeting:

2019-01                 Out of Province Travel for OMAFRA Specialists

Whereas OMAFRA has severely restricted out-of-province travel for Specialists; and

Whereas Knowledge and Technology Transfer (KTT) is a core role of the Specialists and a key deliverable they are supposed to provide to farmers in the horticulture sector; and

Whereas production problems in Ontario are similar to those of neighbouring jurisdictions (for example Quebec, Nova Scotia, New York, Pennsylvania and Michigan), and

Whereas past technology transfer interchange between these jurisdictions has been mutually beneficial; and

Whereas advancements are being made around the world that will benefit our farmers.

Therefore, be it resolved that the OFVGA request that OMAFRA immediately adopt an appropriate policy to address and allow for out-of-province travel which reflects the horticulture sectors technology transfer needs.

Submitted by Ontario Apple Growers                                                                                             

2019-02                 Protecting the Ontario Food Terminal

Whereas agriculture and agri-food is the largest economic driver in the province of Ontario; and

Whereas the Ontario Food Terminal (OFT) was established by the Ontario Food Terminal Act in 1954 and supplies over 2 billion pounds of fresh fruits, vegetables and horticultural products for the retail, wholesale and foodservice market channels; and

Whereas the OFT has an estimated economic impact of $4.5 billion to the Ontario economy for both on-site and off-site produce transactions; and

Whereas the 420 warehouse and farmer’s market businesses support over 170,000 direct and indirect jobs while interacting with approximately 5,000 registered buyers from Canada and northeastern United States; and

Whereas there is a need for a physical and centrally located hub for produce sales transactions to take place in order to aggregate shipping as well visually inspect first-hand perishable products; and

Whereas the OFT is operated at no cost to the Ontario government and provides enormous support for Ontario farmers and agri-businesses; and

Whereas the Ontario government’s Fall Economic Statement created the Minister’s Agricultural Task Force to consult with the leaders across the agriculture and agri‐food sector and provide government with perspective on key policies from the sector themselves; and

Whereas the only specific direction given to the Agricultural Task Force was to “provide input on crucial future decisions such as changes to the Ontario Food Terminal network”.

Therefore be it resolved that the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association (OFGVA) lobby the Ontario government, and the Minister’s Agriculture Task Force to fully consult with all impacted stakeholders as to whether the Ontario Food Terminal remains in its present location or be relocated, and

Therefore be it resolved that if the Ontario government should decide to pursue relocation, the OFVGA lobby the government to fully consult with all impacted stakeholders regarding the necessary budget required to reflect the optimal location and complex infrastructure required by industry.

Submitted by Ontario Apple Growers                       

 

2019-03                 Edible Horticulture Support Program

Whereas in 2018 a $60 million 2‐year Edible Horticulture Support Program was approved by government and administered through Agricorp to help edible horticultural growers offset additional labour costs due to the minimum wage increase; and

Whereas the first payment of $30 million was received by growers in the spring of 2018; and

Whereas the second payment should be received by growers in the spring of 2019.

Therefore, be it resolved that OFVGA lobby the provincial government to ensure the 2nd Edible Horticulture Support Program Payment is received by growers in the spring of 2019.

Submitted by Ontario Tender Fruit Growers                                                                                

2019-05                 Short-term Seasonal Agricultural Worker Transfers

Whereas Ontario farmers are reliant on the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program for their employees; and

Whereas there are certain instances when employees are needed on farms for shorter periods of time; and

Whereas these instances could include, but are not limited to, supplementing a harvest or planting crew, replace AWOL workers, replace workers who have gone home under special circumstances or crop loss; and

Whereas a short-term transfer would benefit the employees by keeping them working and ensuring constant earnings and benefit the farmers assisting them economically and by possibly reducing food waste at the farm.

Therefore, be it resolved that OFVGA work with Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Services (FARMS) and Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) to implement an expedited process for the short-term transfer of workers from one farm to another farm.

Submitted by Ontario Apple Growers                                                                                               

2019-08                 CHANGE TWICE YEAR BUNKHOUSE INSPECTIONS BACK TO ONCE ANNUALLY FOR EMPLOYERS WHO DON’T HAVE WORKERS ALL YEAR

Whereas bunkhouses are an important part of the success of the SAWP program; and

Whereas employers accept that they need to provide housing that meets all of the standards laid out by the program; and

Whereas all bunkhouses need to be inspected annually.

Therefore, be it resolved that the new regulation of having bunkhouses inspected twice each year for employers that don’t have workers all year round be changed back to an annual inspection.

Submitted by the East Central Ontario Fruit and Veg Growers                                       

2019-09                 MRL Database as a National Resource

WHEREAS the OFVGA has been maintaining access to the MRL database and providing access to the database to CHC; and

WHEREAS the MRL database has national benefits with respect to one of CHC’s priority files, crop protection; and

WHEREAS CHC has limited resources and has not been able to make the MRL database subscription a priority in its budgeting;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the OFVGA request CHC subscribe to the MRL database to ensure its benefits are truly paid for and received nationally; and

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that CHC be encouraged to support this additional budgetary cost by increasing its budget by the subscription amount and build the proportionate cost into future membership fee, so as to not unnecessarily strain CHC’s limited resources.

Submitted by the Crop Protection Section                                                                                    

 2019-10                 Pesticide Classification in Ontario

WHEREAS having timely access to new crop protection tools is essential for the competitiveness of Ontario’s fruit and vegetable farmers; and

WHEREAS pesticide classification in Ontario is more onerous than any other province, currently requiring an external committee to make recommendations on provincial classification; and

WHEREAS the complexity of the classification system has resulted in unnecessary delays to product registration in Ontario compared to the rest of Canada; and

WHEREAS federal classification provides the basis for pesticide classification in other provinces;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the OFVGA request the Ontario government to streamline the classification process by eliminating classification by external committee; and

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that Ontario adopts the federal system as the basis for its classification and implements a reasonable service standard from the time of federal registration by Health Canada to Ontario registration.

Submitted by the Crop Protection Section                                                                                    

2019-11                 Balance Re-Evaluation Program at Health Canada for Sustainable Horticulture

WHEREAS the current 15-year cyclical re-evaluation program at Health Canada is unsustainable for Canadian horticulture producers and the PMRA; and

WHEREAS the primary mandate of the PMRA is to protect human health and the environment and not to materially consider economic or social benefits of registration in its decisions; and

WHEREAS supporting Canadian data is often unavailable or inadequate to make the best possible science based decisions on risk assessments; and

WHEREAS the number of re-evaluation decisions resulting in cancellation of active ingredients and uses has exceeded that of new registrations of active ingredients in recent years; and

WHEREAS the future sustainability of Canadian food production is at risk as a result of the current re-evaluation program, contrary to the national interest in economic sustainability and food sovereignty;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that OFVGA continue to work with CHC and the federal government to achieve sustainability in the re-evaluation program by requiring benefits assessment, including economic and societal impacts, and balancing in the decision process and to develop science based criteria for re-evaluation triggers as opposed to an arbitrary 15-year cycle; and

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that OFVGA and CHC pursue expanded mandates of Health Canada’s federal partners to support the re-evaluation program including conducting agricultural impacts assessments and gathering relevant supporting data by AAFC and increasing environmental data monitoring by Environment and Climate Change Canada; and

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that OFVGA and CHC request the federal government to allocate additional budget and resources to these federal organizations in support of the re-evaluation program.

Submitted by the Crop Protection Section                                                                                    

2019-12                 CREATE A NEW PROCESS FOR THE RE-EVALUATION OF CROP PROTECTION MATERIALS IN CANADA

Whereas Crop Protection is our top technology for growing fruits and vegetables in Canada, and

Whereas, we are losing the use of these technologies faster than new ones are being registered,

Therefore, be it resolved, that we work with the Registrar (PMRA), Registrants (Crop Life Canada), the Ministry of Agriculture, PMC, and Health Canada, to create a new process for the Re-evaluation of crop protection materials in Canada.

Submitted by the East Central Ontario Fruit and Veg Growers                                       

2019-14                 Maintaining or enhancing a competitive electricity policy framework

WHEREAS Ontario’s current suite of electricity programs align well with greenhouse sector demands; and

WHEREAS access to competitive electricity pricing is key to maintaining the global competitiveness of Ontario’s greenhouse farmers;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the OFVGA work with the Ontario government to ensure the current suite of electricity programming tools is maintained or enhanced.

Submitted by Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers                                                                        

2019-15                 Establish risk-based agricultural boiler safety standards  

WHEREAS the Auditor General has flagged agricultural boilers and pressure vessel safety as a concern and is reviewing all agricultural exemptions; and

WHEREAS the greenhouse sector has previously played a leadership role with regards to boiler safety; establishing and requiring members to acquire boiler safety certifications; and

WHEREAS the greenhouse sector has worked closely with TSSA and MGCS over the past two years to develop a risk-based assessment that results in achievable compliance measures;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the OFVGA work with the greenhouse sector and the Ontario government to ensure regulations for the use of pressure vessels at agricultural facilities are both reflective of risk and address safety concerns.  

Submitted by: Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers                                                                       

2019-16                 Support the development of harmonized Canadian-U.S. organic regulations 

WHEREAS Ontario’s fruit and vegetable farmers are highly dependent on the U.S. export market and organic production has been identified as rapidly growing market segment; and

WHEREAS current equivalency agreements state that Canadian grown produce, even when destined for the U.S. market, must meet the Canadian Organic Standards; and

WHEREAS hydroponic production is not currently an acceptable practice in Canada while it is allowed under USDA organic certifications; and

WHEREAS this disparity acts as a non-tariff trade barrier and places Canadian growers at a disadvantage to U.S. growers, and

WHEREAS the Canadian standards are currently undergoing their cyclical 5-year review and open to discussion and amendment;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the OFVGA work with the CHC and the Ontario and federal governments to reduce non-tariff barriers related to organic production and look to achieve further alignment between the two countries. 

Submitted by Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers                                                                               

2019-17                 Packaging

Whereas many producers use plastic bags for packaging; and

Whereas with the movement in other countries to reduce the use of plastic packaging, there will be a need to look at alternatives;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that OFVGA work with CHC to engage in sectoral discussions with value chain partners, including the government, that include both research and policy solutions, and establish achievable timelines for the transition to alternative packaging that meet food safety standards.

Submitted by Holland Marsh Growers Association       

2019-18                 Accessibility to Cost Effective Crop Products

WHEREAS similar formulations of crop protection products can often be purchased in jurisdictions outside of Canada at a much lower cost. These formulations can be equally affective; and

WHEREAS cost effective crop products continue to be on the increase;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that OFVGA lobby to ensure that growers have access to these products so growers can be more competitive.

Submitted by Holland Marsh Growers Association                                                                

2019-19                 Revised Farming Insert For MTO

WHEREAS growers are continually being harassed by MTO, Regional and Provincial Officers regarding rules concerning farm equipment on Ontario roadways; and

WHEREAS MTO, Regional and Provincial Officers do not appear to be trained and updated on the current or any rules and regulations in regards to farming equipment, transportation of them and the use of them on Ontario roadways;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that OFVGA work on behalf of the growers with the government, to have communications with MTO, Regional and Provincial officers to enable them to view the grower as a client and not a criminal. Clear direction and education should be given to the officers on agriculture vehicular traffic. 

FUTHER BE IT RESOLVED:  That documented guidelines that outline the rules and regulations concerning farm vehicles be provided to MTO, Regional and Regional Officers.

Submitted by Holland Marsh Growers Association                                                                

2019-20                 Research in Proper Irrigation Treatment Systems

WHEREAS There have been repeat recalls of leafy vegetables, more so with the romaine, happening in the past 18 months affecting the Canadian market; and

WHEREAS With the recall of the leafy vegetables these past months due to irrigation practices in another country, it is only a matter of time before there will be mandatory irrigation treatment in Ontario;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that OFVGA protect the interests of the fruit and vegetable growers by requesting CHC to explore research opportunities on irrigation systems to address food safety issues for fruit and vegetables and their efficacies.

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that OFVGA lobby the provincial government to develop science-based policy to support on-farm food safety.

Submitted by Holland Marsh Growers Association              

2019-21                 Infrastructure / High-Speed Internet

WHEREAS many growers still do not have access to high-speed internet and three phase hydro; and

WHEREAS these tools are mandatory in today’s world;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that OFVGA continue to lobby the Ontario government and the CRTC, so growers have access to proper infrastructure in particular high-speed internet and 3 phase hydro.

Submitted by Holland Marsh Growers Association                                                                        

2019-22                 Food Safety Regulatory Burden

WHEREAS the Canadian horticultural sector developed and launched the CanadaGAP food safety program to meet the needs of large Canadian grocery retailers over a decade ago; and

WHEREAS the CanadaGAP Program is a HACCP based program which received full Canadian government recognition in 2017 to meet federal regulatory requirements; and

WHEREAS the Safe Food for Canadians Act, which took effect January 15, 2019, stipulates that growers who grow, package and label fresh fruits and vegetables for interprovincial trade must have a preventative control plan in place by January 2020; and

WHEREAS many food safety requirements are not supported by scientific evidence to show that the requirement actually improves food safety; and

WHEREAS the proliferation of food safety regulations, requirements, certifications and audits is a significant administrative burden for fruit and vegetable farmers; and

WHEREAS duplication of audits between CanadaGAP and the Safe Food for Canadians Act will result in increased costs and unnecessary administrative burden, and is an inefficient use of everyone’s time, including the federal government;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that CHC lobby CFIA and Health Canada to ensure growers who are audited through the CanadaGap System and can show proof of certification do not have to complete or pay for a secondary audit from the CFIA; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that CFIA, Health Canada and CanadaGap be held to account to ensure that food safety regulations have scientific evidence supporting that the requirement(s) actually lead to a safer food supply and is not just an additional cost and administrative burden for farmers.

Submitted by OFVGA board of directors                                                                                                            

2019-25               Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) Funding

Whereas the provincial government is motivated to position the province as “Open for Business” with less red tape; and

Whereas; the current CAP program funding application process is time consuming, with additional requirements for applying such as completion of the Environmental Farm Plan and Grow Your Farm Profits; and

Whereas program approval criteria and processes do not reflect practical farming realities such as timelines for producers to identify and implement on-farm projects, and farmers’ ability to leverage in-kind equipment and skill to projects; and

Whereas farmers are expected to become red tape experts, wordsmithing complex applications with precise vocabulary to get a high merit score to access funding for their on-farm projects, which include important food safety upgrades, environmental improvements, productivity and efficiency, and climate adaptation; and

Whereas projects that are considered to be innovative by the sector are being declined as a result of arbitrary low provincial adoption thresholds which are not communicated transparently to applicants; and

Whereas despite completing all the necessary paperwork and additional requirements growers are still being declined for funding and are not receiving assistance to help them qualify are not receiving explanation about why they are getting declined; and

Whereas there is limited funding available, and it appears there is significant CAP funding being directed to the processing sector, other farm sectors, and funding for consultants; and

Whereas there are many opportunities for increased value-added directly on fruit and vegetable farms,

Therefore, be it resolved that OFVGA work with the provincial government to develop a more streamlined and transparent application and approval process for CAP that enables fruit and vegetable farmers access to funding to increase their competitiveness, while respecting the government’s fiscal responsibilities.

Submitted by OFVGA board of directors                                                                                                            

2019-04                 Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) Funding                                  WITHDRAWN

2019-06                 IMPLEMENT $10 PER DAY CHARGE TO EACH SAWP WORKER TO COVER BUNKHOUSE EXPENSES                                                                                                                                                     DEFEATED

2019-07                 Increase to Utilities and Bunkhouse deduction                                                        DEFEATED

2019-13                 Develop Guidelines for Drone Spraying                                                      DEFEATED

2019-23                 Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program – National Housing Inspection – 8-month rule

WITHDRAWN

                                                                                                                                                                  2019-24                 Safe Food for Canadians Act - Recognition of Canada Gap Certification for Preventative Control Plan

WITHDRAWN