2017 Tomato Crop In Southwest Ontario In Jeopardy

The $45-million tomato crop in Southwest Ontario is up in the air for now.

Negotiations between the Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers Board and the 3 major tomato processing companies have collapsed.

As a result the Minister of Agriculture - Jeff Leal - has fired the board and appointed a former Minister of Agriculture to take their place.

Former OPVG District 1 Chair Ron Van Damme says he was notified of the move this morning and told to return all his OPVG material.

He says there is a 5-year memorandum of understanding that should have set the parameters for a deal including the price, but in the 2nd year of the agreement the canning companies want to start all over again.

Van Damme says the memorandum of understanding includes a mechanism to reach a deal without negotiations: "when we don't have a negotiated settlement then we would say it would appear we would go to arbitration which is the dispute settlement mechanism which we have so then you would say were going to arbitration on this and this crop"

He says this move came as a complete surprise and he was taken back by the move.however they also expect that the memorandum will be upheld, as it's a legally binding contract)

Van Damme says talks were progressing well with 2 of the 3 major producers, ConAgra and Sunbright, but he says Highbury Canco of Leamington would not participate.

There is no explanation of how former Agriculture Minister Elmer Buchanan will proceed with the negotiations to reach a contract.