Alarming Myths and Half Truths – Letter to the Editor of Farmers Forum

Alarming Myths and Half Truths

How does one deal with myths and half-truths?

Recently there has been a lot of talk and speculation regarding the future of the NFU-O. Much of this has come about by the musings of a few who seem to like to whisper in others’ ears that we are on the ropes or who would like to see us there.

The Tribunal has seriously erred in law by delving into a very respectable organization that has acted on behalf of farmers for decades, both in this province and nationally. The Tribunal has gone far beyond its jurisdiction, subjecting the NFU-O to scrutiny outside the powers given to the Tribunal panelists. They did not follow modern legal approaches when they narrowly defined certain sections and words within the Act. All of this led the Tribunal to a faulty conclusion, one that the NFU-O is challenging.

Part of the error was in trying to dictate where or how the NFU-O uses its funds. That is a matter for NFU-O members to decide. There are many different thoughts as to how budgeting and funding agreements should be handled within the NFU-O, as there is any company. These decisions are never part of a finite process. Change happens, and ways of responding to that change are found so the corporation can remain in business. NFU-O members, NFU-O Council, NFU Board, or Local Boards can bring forward resolutions that are voted on by the membership at either the NFU-O AGM or the National Convention, depending on the area of responsibility. There is also a Memorandum of Understanding and a Service Agreement between the NFU-O and the NFU that dictates which services are provided by the NFU-O and which are provided by the NFU. These are reviewed annually.

Since its incorporation in 2002, the NFU-O has had a President; previously he or she was called Coordinator. Either way the responsibilities are to the Ontario members. Each council or board at any level of the organization is held responsible and accountable for monies received and spent by it. All annual financial statements are externally audited. NFU-O members have the right to nominate and elect members to the NFU-O Council and as well to the NFU Board. It is total malarkey to suggest that the NFU-O does not represent Ontario farmers. It has always has and always will.

The general confusion started for all 3 GFOs when the Tribunal questioned who and how a farmer became acknowledged as a member of a GFO. This was somewhat sorted out by having farmers sign a separate document stating that they wished to become a member of a given organization. Because of the snafu created by the Tribunal, NFU-O members had to go through 3 moves before becoming a member. A GFO does not need 2,000 members to become accredited.

As to the suggestion that the NFU-O be based in Ontario, where else are the members, locals and the administration office located? The NFU-O welcomes new members and is thankful for all its current members who have jumped through these extra hoops to continue working for an even better future.

All this reminds me of an event that happened to my wife and I just after the ice storm this winter. One week after the storm, a fire alarm went off. We checked all the alarms attached to the electrical system. Nothing! We turned off the hydro for the house and still could not find out where the noise was coming from. We were uncertain as to whether there was any cause for alarm and began to wonder if the noise actually came from inside the ductwork. Had someone, during renovations, dropped an old alarm in there? Others were called and were also mystified by the reverberations of the noise within the basement. Eventually the culprit was found hiding in a box full of odds and ends. It had become damp and decided to make a racket. No fire to report. It was just a nuisance to everyone caught in the situation at the moment.

Sound familiar?

John Sutherland
NFU-O President