Agriculture Minister Sticks To The Script On Tomato Talks

Ontario's Agriculture Minister is saying little about the collapse in negotiations for the 2017 tomato crop.

A negotiated deal was not reached by the March 1st deadline and 2 days later Minister Jeff Leal dismissed the farmers' negotiators and appointed a former Agriculture Minister.

Little detail was included in the formal announcement from the minister's office.

Leal now confirms arbitration was not an option under the Memorandum of Understanding: "the arbitration system can work in some circumstances, at this particular time there were no offers being put forward in order to arbitrate a settlement and so the impasse was reached"

Leal is vague about the timeline former Agriculture Minister Elmer Buchanan is under to conclude a contract except to say he has a mandate to complete the 2017 negotiations in a manner consistent with the current regulatory framework and the government's support of regulated marketing boards in the Province of Ontario.

Leal is clear the government was not prepared to allow a negotiated impasse to negatively impact family farms and jobs in Ontario.

There is little time until tomato seeds have to be planted in greenhouses to have seedlings ready for the spring planting.