The following resolutions were presented and passed by member organizations of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers' Association (OFVGA) at the 2021 Annual General Meeting:
2021-01 COVERAGE FOR COVID-19 LABOUR DISRUPTIONS
Whereas growers of fruits and vegetables with existing production insurance plans have been extended coverage related to labour perils during the COVID-19 pandemic; and
Whereas there continues to be gaps in labour disruption coverage for some commodities and the value chain (such as processing, trucking, packing), creating risks for growers; and
Whereas due to the perishability of fruits and vegetables, there is a very narrow window of opportunity to harvest, pack, process and transport fruits and vegetables during the season to ensure marketability; and
Whereas there is often no excess capacity along the value chain in Ontario in the event even just one transporter, packer or processor experiences a labour disruption, therefore leading to substantial crop waste and income loss.
Therefore, be it resolved that the OFVGA supports the efforts of commodities and value chain participants to lobby the Provincial and Federal governments to provide financial assistance to compensate growers when negatively affected by a labour disruption caused by COVID-19 and not currently covered by existing safety net programming.
2021-02 UAV PESTICIDE APPLICATION
WHEREAS unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) are significantly different than traditional aerial applications; and
WHEREAS UAVs can apply pesticides in a more directed mechanism than traditional aerial applications with less off target drift; and
WHEREAS UAVs are more cost effective, environmentally friendly and reduce pesticide exposure to the operator and the environment; and
WHEREAS the current number of aerial application labels for pesticides is small due to cost of amending labels; and
WHEREAS UAV application allows for more intensive and directed spraying that would greatly benefit the fruit and vegetable industry.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that that the OFVGA work with CHC to engage the PMRA to work with crop protection companies to develop a pathway and mechanism for pesticide labels to be amended so that pesticides can be applied by UAV as a lower impact mode of application.
WHEREAS new invasive pest species are an increasingly regular occurrence in North American crop production; and
WHEREAS biological control is a preferred method of environmental sustainable and effective pest control and a viable alternative to chemical control that are susceptible to resistance; and
WHEREAS CFIA and AAFC are responsible for evaluation, introduction and release of biological control vectors; and
WHEREAS the industry has benefit within provincial areas where knowledge and extension is conducted; and
WHEREAS training, education and knowledge within is conducted by provincial ministry and non-profit counterparts; and
WHEREAS successful tech transfer involves biological control insect propagation and distribution companies to allow for accessibility of new insect control materials.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the OFVGA and CHC work with AAFC and CFIA to identify and facilitate an enhanced process involving stakeholders to consider the importation and use of biological control vectors.
2021-04 SEASONAL AGRICULTURAL WORKER VACCINATION
WHEREAS agriculture has been deemed an essential industry that requires seasonal agricultural workers in assuming Canada’s food safety and security; and
WHEREAS government inspected accommodations for seasonal agricultural workers can be categorized as a congregate living arrangement; and
WHEREAS congregate living accommodations have been identified to be more susceptible for occupant transmission of COVID-19; and
WHEREAS accommodation enhancements are providing additional safety for workers; and
WHEREAS vaccinations are shown to reduce transmission and spread of COVID-19.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that seasonal agricultural workers be considered a priority as part of the distribution of the Canadian supply of COVID-19 vaccines and the plan for the voluntary vaccination is considered in securing the safe harvest as well as the health of seasonal agricultural workers in 2021 and beyond.
2021-05 INTERNATIONAL TRADE DISPUTE
WHEREAS the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) has launched international trade dispute investigations against imports of several Canadian grown fruits and vegetables, including peppers, cucumbers, squash, blueberries and strawberries; and
WHEREAS this investigation is considering trade sanctions that are baseless and unsubstantiated and could disadvantage Canadian fruit and vegetable growers if sanctions are placed on exports of Canadian grown crops; and
WHEREAS no such sanctions are applied on export of US fruits and vegetables into Canada.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the OFVGA and CHC work with AAFC and trade organizations to ensure these claims are disputed and Canadian producers do not face unfair trade restrictions under the USMCA trade agreement.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that if restrictions are placed, the Canadian Government be lobbied to quickly enact countervailing tariffs or other measures to obtain a level trading field.
2021-06 SUPPORTING FARM WORKERS FOR ONTARIO’S HORTICULTURAL FARMERS
WHEREAS Ontario’s horticultural sector has faced an unprecedented number of labour challenges over the past year managing ongoing threats from COVID-19 pressures that jeopardize the supply and food security for all Canadians; and
WHEREAS Ontario’s horticultural sector has been deemed essential during the pandemic, which relies heavily on the temporary foreign worker program to perform farming activities and temporary foreign workers have been deemed essential workers during the pandemic; and
WHEREAS in many instances these impacts have been unexpectedly implemented by our federal government in the form of orders in council, with the lack of consultation leaving no time for the growers to prepare; and
WHEREAS horticultural farmers support the need to protect Canada by mitigating the spread of COVID with restrictions but need to be provided an opportunity to consult in changes that continue to endanger our livelihood; and
WHEREAS temporary foreign workers are currently subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine program upon entry into Canada to help limit the spread of the virus; and
WHEREAS Ontario farmers will be at a competitive disadvantage in both domestic and international markets due to labour shortages if temporary foreign workers are not be able to obtain polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test within 72-hours of departure;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the OFVGA work with the Canadian Horticultural Council and the federal government to put in place a consultation process to ensure that any contemplated travel restrictions continue to recognize the importance of temporary foreign workers in supporting an essential food production, recognizes existing quarantine requirements, and doesn’t further burden the sector’s timely access to this labour pool.
2021-07 ENGLISH CUCUMBERS PROTECTIVE COVERING IS NOT PACKAGING
WHEREAS Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG) represents the most significant growing region for seedless cucumbers in Canada; and
WHEREAS currently the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) identifies greenhouse grown English cucumbers are no longer considered a bulk item due to the protective cellophane wrapping and are now considered ‘prepacked product’; and
WHEREAS the prepackaged product designation requires unnecessary labelling requirements that will limit growers to two options when labelling their English cucumbers:
1) Adopt a new label that is large enough to accommodate the information required under the SFCR which inevitably results in increased costs for development machinery, tooling and labour; or
2) Utilize a generic label that is currently recognized under the SFCR that lacks the ability for suitable information that is valuable to the consumer ands lack of traceability that jeopardizes food safety programs designed to protect the consumer; and
WHEREAS the new labelling requirements prevent Canadian consumers from readily identifying Canadian grown English cucumbers;
WHEREAS the new labelling requirements will require Canadian consumers to rely on retailers to correctly identify Canadian grown English cucumbers with the correct signage; and
WHEREAS the availability of the necessary hardware associated to facilitating the new labeling requirements are not currently available to meet production demands; and
WHEREAS this new designation could result in increased food waste due to retailer rejection;
THEREFORE, be it resolved that OFVGA work with the Canadian Horticultural Council and the federal government to redefine the wrapping of single count cucumbers as a protective covering necessary to preserve and protect the product. The 1ct cucumbers should be exempted from the packaged goods label requirements and continue to fall under bulk unpackaged label requirements. OGVG requests that we continue to use labels and procedures developed prior to the SFCR as they optimize traceability, reduce costs to growers, protects consumers, and increases consumer trust in food safety.
2021-08 Supplemental lighting is a normal farm practice
WHEREAS Canada is a northern climate that requires a protected environment for sustained growing periods not otherwise required; and
WHEREAS greenhouses provide an environment capable of intensive edible horticulture production which continues to be increasingly sought after by Canadian consumers who also are seeking sourcing product grown closer to their own homes; and
WHEREAS Canada’s food guide recommends greater consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables; and
WHEREAS key greenhouse inputs, especially as it pertains to heat and sunlight are essential to the growing process; and
WHEREAS in order to efficiently grow in an Ontario greenhouse, the use of supplemental lighting is crucial and defined as a normal farm practice; and
WHEREAS light abatement is a best management practice to reduce light pollution but is limited by the need to prevent heat and humidity buildup; and
WHEREAS the industry is working with government partners and other stakeholders to identify more effective light abatement best management practices; and
WHEREAS normal farm practices are protected by the Farming and Food Production Protection Act (Ontario).
THEREFORE, be it resolved the OFVGA support the greenhouse vegetable sector to ensure that greenhouse lighting in greenhouses is continued to be recognized as a normal farm practice when light abatement best management practices are implemented by growers.