by DAVE PINK
Merger talks involving the Ontario Bean Producers’ Marketing Board and the Ontario Coloured Bean Growers’ Association have been derailed by a demand from the province’s bean processors.
Grant Jones, president of the London-based marketing board, which represents the interests of the white pea bean growers in the province, said today that if the merger had gone through the marketing board would have lost the right to negotiate the grading and drying charges for all of its members. Traditionally, the marketing board has negotiated the service charges for all of its members — those who market through the pool, and those who contract directly with the processors. It was unwilling to give up that power.
Almost all of the white beans grown in Ontario are sold directly to the processors, and Jones said the growers are happy to have the board negotiate for them, rather than have to negotiate those charges on their own. And he said the coloured bean growers wanted to benefit from that same service.
“The processors wouldn’t budge on this, and the commission (the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission) sided with them,” said Jones.
So the marketing board’s directors voted to retain the status quo, and elected not to enter into a new agreement that would see them lose power.
Merger talks have been going on since the summer of 2011, and many of the farmers who grow white beans also grow the coloured varieties, usually black, kidney or pinto beans. Most of the beans are grown in southwestern Ontario.
“I’d still be glad to sit down at the table and sort this out, but that’s all up to the commission,” said Jones.
There are three major bean processors in the province, says Tino Breuer, the marketing board’s general manager — Parrish and Heimbecker Limited, Hensall District Co-operative and Thompsons Limited. They are represented by the Ontario Agribusiness Association’s pulse committee.
Bernadine Wolfe, the manager of the Mitchell-based Ontario Coloured Bean Growers’ Association, could not be reached.
According to Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs statistics, in 2011 there were 35,000 acres of white beans harvested in Ontario and 50,000 acres of coloured beans. Most of the beans were grown in western and southern Ontario. BF
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