By Farmers Forum staff
The Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO) has withdrawn its membership from the Grain Growers of Canada, pointing to conflicting policy and personality conflicts.
The Ontario growers say there has been a lack of support for soybean growers during the U.S.-China trade war.
The trade war hampered soybean prices but the U.S. gave almost CDN $60 billion to American soybean farmers over the last two years to help get through the tough times. The Canadian government hasn’t given anything to Canadian growers. While the Ontario grain growers have been pushing for some type of compensation, critics say that the national group has not been pushing as hard.
In 2019, there were 5.7 million acres of soybeans planted in Canada but more than half of those acres are in Ontario. Breaking that down, about 3.1 million acres of soybeans were planted in Ontario, 1.5 million acres in Manitoba and 906,000 acres in Quebec.
In a statement on its website, the Grain Farmers of Ontario said that “key advocacy work would be hampered and undermined by conflicting (Grain Growers of Canada) policy narrative” and that “personality conflicts” was another issue.
The Grain Growers of Canada is made up of 15 commodity groups, mostly based in Western Canada and focus on other crops. Other members include the Alberta Wheat Commission, Manitoba Oat Growers Association, the Canadian Canola Growers Association and Saskatchewan Pulse Growers. In total, 10 of the 15 members focus on crops other than corn and soybeans.
Grain Growers of Canada chair Jeff Nielsen said in the statement on Feb. 6: “I would also like to reiterate to all grain farmers and member groups that the challenges you face are not uniquely your own; they belong to all of us as an industry. From business risk management programs and market access to the carbon levy, (Grain Growers of Canada) is more united than ever in its efforts to ensure that our members’ priorities shape the national agenda.”
GFO delegate Steve Denys said the split seems to be a difference in strategic approach to working with the federal government. “The western side of it wasn’t amenable to some of the things that the eastern side wanted to do in terms of an approach to risk management,” he said.
This move won’t have an impact on individual grain growers, he added.
“It’s always good if you can have one strong voice from a national perspective, but if your needs aren’t being met by that voice, then it’s counter productive,” he said. “Our needs in risk management and other programs, we’re better off doing independently.”
The GFO joined the national organization in 2018.
Grain Farmers of Ontario quits national group
By Farmers Forum staff