Grain Farmers of Ontario leaves national grain policy organization

The Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO) has withdrawn its membership from national policy organization Grain Growers of Canada.

GFO had only recently joined the organization in 2018, at the same time as SaskFlax and Productuers du Grains du Quebec.

Markus Haerle, chair of GFO, says his organization left, in part, due to the lack of effectiveness of the GGC in securing support for soybean growers hurt by trade disruption during this U.S./China trade war.

“We felt that they were not stepping up to the plate,” Haerle says on the matter of business risk management short falls to soybean growers.

Haerle says the structure of the GGC is ill-equipped to deal with single commodity issues. GFO had called for structural change of the organization, but only saw action on the file recently, with GGC sending out a membership survey.

The move leaves GFO on its on in regards to lobbying at the national level, but Haerle says the group is confident in its abilities to push for the change it wants on Parliament Hill.

Jeff Nielsen, chair of the GGC, confirmed the news in a statement, saying: “As the chair of the Grain Growers of Canada, it is a source of pride for me that we represent the diverse interests of our members from coast to coast. Unfortunately, it is with a great deal of sadness that I can confirm that Grain Farmers of Ontario has retracted their membership from our organization. This is a most unfortunate day. However, I can promise that we will continue to tirelessly advocate for the interests of all grain farmers throughout the country – inclusive of our most populous province.”

In a statement, GFO says “The voice of grain farmers is needed at national policy discussions in many areas, however at this time, our farmer-members voices are not being represented in key areas effectively through GGC,” adding there are concerns that some of key advocacy work would be hampered or undermined by conflicting GGC policy narrative, and that the group is “unable to overlook issues with the structure of the organization and personality conflicts.”

“This decision was not made quickly or lightly in any way,” says GFO. “Grain Farmers of Ontario shared background on all of these issues with GGC and they are aware of our reasons for leaving at this time.”

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