By Tom Collins
KEMPTVILLE — Plans for a new berry marketing board are on hold until parties can agree on fees and board representation.
The Ontario Berry Growers Association (OBGA) wants to create a marketing board to increase its funding for research, but growers were split on the idea earlier this year. Since then, the OBGA has been meeting with a group representing blueberry farmers to find a consensus.
The original idea suggested marketing board members pay a $150 annual fee, plus a fee based on acreage, ranging from growers with two to 4.9 acres of berries paying $150 per acre to farmers with 30-plus acres paying $1,225 per acre.
The plan is to now keep the $150 annual fee, and have a flat acreage fee of anywhere from $35 to $50 an acre, but no number has been decided, said OBGA executive director Kevin Schooley. There would also be equal board representation between strawberry, blueberry and raspberry groups.
If a marketing board is created, the new fees would be applied to all 400 berry growers in Ontario.
Once details are finalized, the OBGA will send the proposal to the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission, hopefully in December or January, said Schooley. If approved, the province’s strawberry, raspberry, blackberry and blueberry growers will vote on the proposal, which requires approval from two-thirds of respondents representing at least 50 per cent of berry acreage.
The marketing board would not be involved in negotiating or setting berry prices, said Schooley.