VFO announces Licence Fee Inspection and Compliance position

Board focusing on enhanced communications and integrity in collection system

Guelph, Ontario (October 28, 2020) — Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO) is pleased to announce that Geoff Holwell has joined the organization in the newly created position of Inspection and Compliance Officer.

“Since VFO came into force in April 2015, we have worked openly and diligently on education and awareness with our industry partners with respect to the collection and remittance of the mandatory licence fees and as a result developed some great partnerships,” said Jennifer Haley, VFO Executive Director. “However, we are now moving into the next phase of development as an organization and looking to ensure equitable compliance for all stakeholders with additional outreach to the industry,” she added.

The primary responsibilities of this new position are to ensure compliance with the VFO’s regulations and maintain integrity in the licence fee collection system. The position will be responsible for ongoing communications with industry stakeholders that will include auditing and inspection functions to ensure licence fee remittances are timely and accurate.

Geoff brings with him a comprehensive resume of experience that includes a broad spectrum of law enforcement, investigative and auditing roles over the past twenty-six years that include municipal policing, border services as well as forensic insurance investigations.

In his role as the VFO Inspection and Compliance Officer, Geoff will be working with producers, industry partners, and stakeholders to monitor, discuss, and create awareness for licence fee remittance obligations that are part of VFO’s marketing board regulations. “I am looking forward to meeting with and working with our industry partners to provide assistance to them where I can and to ensure compliance,” said Holwell.

“On behalf of VFO, I would like to welcome Geoff to the VFO team,” stated Pascal Bouilly, VFO Chair. “For VFO, it is the right time for our organization to take this next step and demonstrate to our members, industry partners, and the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission that VFO’s licence fee collection system is thorough, transparent, responsible, equitable, and has integrity,” he added.

View the full news release here.

Ontario’s veal farmers show appreciation to essential workers at Ontario veal processing facilities

Guelph, Ontario (August 18, 2020) – Essential workers at participating Ontario veal processing facilities were surprised last week with gourmet cookies for each staff member as a gesture of appreciation from Ontario’s veal farmers for their hard work and dedication during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through the commitment of the veal processing facilities and their loyal staff, the Ontario veal supply chain continued to run smoothly. The plants incorporated new policies and procedures to take the necessary steps to protect staff and keep high-quality Ontario veal available in our communities and on the plates of consumers.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been a stressful time for everyone, and despite that staff came to work every day to keep the veal processing facilities operating and for that VFO is truly appreciative,” said Pascal Bouilly, Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO) Chair. “Without their dedication, the Ontario veal industry may have had a very different story to tell,” he added.

Over 450 individually packaged gourmet cookies from a local County of Brant bakery were delivered to the processing facilities in mid-August to recognize the essential workers responsible for keeping Ontario’s veal supply chain moving.

“During this pandemic it was clear that the work our veal processing facilities do is a vital part of keeping Ontario veal available for our consumers, and we are grateful for all they have done to keep the facilities operating during these challenging times,” commended Jennifer Haley, VFO Executive Director. “They are an essential part of our industry, especially during these unprecedented times, and the cookies are our small way of saying thank you for all you do.”

Find the full release here.

         

VFO applauds investment of additional $50 million in RMP

Pascal Bouilly, VFO Chair joined Premier Ford, Minister Hardeman and our commodity organization colleagues for an important announcement that will see an additional $50 million invested into the Risk Management Program (RMP)  in 2020, bringing forward the Premier’s campaign promise by one year.  This brings the total annual investment into RMP to $150 million.  This funding will support farmers with unforeseen challenges such as fluctuating market prices, extreme weather events like flooding or drought, and disease.   Approximately 80 per cent of eligible commercial production in the cattle, hog, sheep, veal, grains and oilseeds and edible horticulture sectors in Ontario is covered by the provincial Risk Management Program.

“On behalf of Ontario’s veal farmers, thank you Premier Ford and Minister Hardeman for listening to us and bringing these funds forward when we need them most,” stated Pascal Bouilly, VFO Chair. “Bringing forward these funds ahead one year and into 2020 is perhaps one of the most important investments to be made to the Ontario livestock industry and specifically the veal sector. With the economic uncertainty of the markets looking forward, rising costs of production and navigating the supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19, veal farmers depend on the RMP program as part of their business risk management strategy.”

For those producers already enrolled in RMP- there is nothing additional you need to do. There are no changes to premium.

For those wishing to enrol in RMP, deadlines have been extended to July 30, 2020. Producers are encouraged to contact Agricorp directly.  For more info: https://www.agricorp.com/en-ca/News/2020/Pages/RMP-FundingIncreasedTo150Million.asp

See the Premier’s full news release here:  https://news.ontario.ca/opo/en/2020/07/farmers-support-expanded-risk-management-program.html

New legislation protects farms and food safety

Ontario farm families depend on the safety and security of their farms to raise livestock, and grow and produce food to maintain a strong, reliable food supply.

That’s why Ontario’s farm and commodity groups applaud the Ontario government for Bill 156, the Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2020. Bill 156 strikes an important balance, respecting the right to peaceful public protest while giving the justice system the tools it needs to help protect farms, farmers, livestock, abattoirs and meat processers, and the food supply from trespassing and harassment by groups and individuals.

Our province’s agri-food industry contributes more than $47 billion to the province’s annual GDP, and employs over 837,000 Ontarians. Workers across agriculture and the food sector — including farmers and farm workers, transporters, abattoirs, processing plant employees, food service and retail outlets — have experienced threats and harassment from activists seeking to end their industry.

Ninety-seven percent of Canadian farms are family farms. Farms are not only a place of business, they are homes where we welcome family and friends, and raise children.

Increasingly, trespassers are invading farm properties, barns and processing facilities, harassing families and workers, frightening and stealing animals, and threatening food safety by ignoring biosecurity protocols. Farmers and their families deserve to feel safe at home on the farm. Unwanted visitors and trespassers can have devastating impacts on the health and safety of farms, families, businesses and livestock.

Farmers are proud of the care they provide their animals, and animal welfare is of the utmost importance. Ontario farmers are highly regulated, and follow strict codes of conduct to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all farm animals. Preventing trespass on farms, in barns or at processing facilities reduces the risk of distress for animals, and prevents the exposure to potential diseases and pest, keeping farm animals healthy and safe.

Ontario farmers support the newly enacted Provincial Animal Services Act, the strongest animal welfare legislation in the country, which protects animals including livestock from abuse and neglect. We believe in exposing any acts of animal mistreatment or abuse by utilizing existing enforcement services. Anyone who suspects animal abuse or neglect should report directly to the Ontario Animal Protection Call Centre, available 24 hours a day.

On behalf of all Ontario farmers, processing facilities and agri-food businesses, we’d like to express our appreciation to the provincial government for taking a strong stance to protect farms and food safety for Ontarians. The Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2020 is good news for Ontario’s agri-food industry. It will ensure that food safety through the value chain is protected, from farm to table, balanced with allowing an individual’s right to protest, while protecting farmers, their families, and livestock.

Find the full media statement here.

Find the answers to frequently asked questions here.

Immediate action required by province to protect food security

Beef Farmers of Ontario, Grain Farmers of Ontario, Veal Farmers of Ontario, and the Ontario Sheep Farmers are asking the Premier and the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs to immediately move to fully fund the Ontario Risk Management Program (RMP) to help over 50,000 Ontario farmers continue to deliver food for the people of Ontario.

COVID-19 impacts have exacerbated the challenges already faced by Ontario‘s grain and livestock farmers and immediate support is needed to ensure our farmers can continue to deliver local, quality food to Ontarians.

Many Ontario farmers in the non-supply managed sectors are in crisis without access to sufficient safety net support that programs like RMP provide. In the last election, Ontario‘s Premier campaigned to increase much-needed funding for the Ontario RMP, recognizing the critical underfunding of the program in recent years and its importance to the agri-food sector and Ontario economy. COVID-19 has amplified financial challenges facing our family farms and induced market and production disruptions that threaten the food supply and viability of farm operations. Fully funding the RMP will provide the essential security Ontario farmers need to continue to provide food for Ontarians and keep rural Ontario’s communities and economy strong during this time of crisis.

Read the full press release here.

Veal Farmers of Ontario announces new leadership for 2020

Guelph, Ontario, April 22, 2020 – Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO) is pleased to announce the election of Pascal Bouilly (Cambridge) as Chair and Middlesex County veal producer Phil Kroesbergen as Vice Chair, at a recent meeting of the Board of Directors.

Bouilly, the Dairy Calf Supply Chain Manager with Grober Nutrition, was appointed to the VFO Board of Directors in 2015 and has served as Vice Chair for the past two years. Bouilly is responsible for the started dairy calves program, providing on-farm management and technical support for their sales team.

“Driving demand for Ontario veal is a top priority for the VFO Board of Directors,” says Bouilly. “As Chair, I look forward to working with my fellow directors in the year ahead as we focus our attention on the issues, initiatives and projects that will best support our members and our industry. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is widespread and primary producers need a financial backstop like the Risk Management Program to navigate these uncertain times. We will continue collaborating with our industry partners to advocate for the needs of veal farmers in this time of crisis.”

Kroesbergen, who joined the Board in 2017, farms full-time with his father and brother near Strathroy. Their family operation, Creekside Acres, has been producing veal exclusively for over 30 years.

“As Vice Chair, I look forward to strategically addressing issues directly impacting dairy calf and veal producers with my fellow directors,” says Kroesbergen. “We will continue to focus on the core priorities that will benefit us all.”

Brian Keunen and Sid Atkinson were acclaimed to the VFO Board at the 2020 Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Producer Education Day in Stratford, on March 11, and will serve two and three year terms, respectively. Keunen is Past Chair of VFO (2015 to 2017), and raises veal cattle in the Palmerston area; he also owns and operates Mapleview Agri Ltd.

Atkinson, a dairy and cash crop producer from Northumberland County, brings extensive board experience to his role and fills one of three vacant seats on the board. Rita Maciukiewicz completed her second term and did not seek re-election, while both Past Chair Tom Kroesbergen and Joyce Feenstra have stepped down mid-term.

“On behalf of the VFO Board of Directors, I would like to thank Tom for his leadership, as well our other retiring directors for their service to the Ontario veal industry,” says Bouilly. “We welcome Sid to the board and look forward to adding his fresh perspective to our discussions.”

Returning to the eight member VFO Board of Directors are Judy Dirksen and Cameron Knip. Two seats remain vacant and will be filled by one-year appointments, approved by the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission, that will end at the 2021 AGM.

Veal Farmers of Ontario is a producer-run organization that represents the interests of Ontario’s veal farmers, providing leadership to promote industry growth and viability through collaboration, innovation, marketing and education.

View the full release here.

VFO STATEMENT: Update on COVID-19

Due to the recent coronavirus outbreak, Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO), like so many other businesses and organizations, is committed to doing our part in the shared and unprecedented battle against COVID-19. The health and safety of our staff, our board members, our members and all our families is of paramount importance. Please be advised that effective immediately, our office is now closed until further notice and staff are working remotely from home.

We will do our best to maintain services to our members and have put in place protocols and procedures for our organization’s continuity. We will continue to communicate and work with industry partners to ensure our sector remains uninterrupted in these new and uncertain times. By implementing this strategy, we hope to be able to do our part by practicing social distancing with the goal of limiting the spread of COVID-19.

As well, VFO will be postponing—until further notice—our popular consumer campaign and contest “Ontario’s Best Veal Sandwich” which was due to start later this week. With the changes in the foodservice sector, this is the right thing to do and we will find alternate ways in which we can support our foodservice partners and family businesses in these new and trying times, and in the days ahead.

For more information about managing COVID-19 in the agriculture industry, the risk to the work environment and employee health and safety, read the special briefing provided by the Canadian Agricultural Human Resources Council (CAHRC).

and we will respond as soon as possible.

Thank you to all of our members for your support and understanding during this challenging time. Please be safe and stay healthy.

View the full statement here.

Annual VFO Board of Director’s Award winner announced

Recognizing dedication and service to the veal cattle industry

Guelph, Ontario, 26 March 2020 – Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO) was pleased to announce this year’s VFO Board of Director’s Award winner at its recent Annual General Meeting and Producer Education Day held at the Arden Park Hotel in Stratford on March 11, 2020.

The VFO Board of Director’s Award is presented to individuals or groups who have helped the VFO Board achieve its mandate. This year, Mr. Tom Kroesbergen Sr. was recognized for his leadership and vision for the veal cattle industry. He recently completed the maximum nine-year term as a Director, and most recently as Chair, with the Toronto Stockyards Land Development Board (TSYLDB), representing the veal sector.

“During Tom’s time with the TSYLDB, the board was able to clarify its mandate and build expertise in order to not only preserve the original distribution for its members, but look at ways to diversify and grow the funds for future generations,” says Jennifer Haley, Executive Director, VFO.

With Kroesgbergen Sr.’s leadership as Chair for the past six years, the TSYLDB continued to ensure good management of the properties, including lease renewals and ongoing relationships with major retail tenants. As well, the board engaged in a number of strategic planning exercises with a look to the future to ensure that the board stays up to date on land use planning in a constantly evolving area of the City of Toronto.

“We thank Tom for his dedication and service to the veal sector, the livestock sector as a whole and for his leadership on the TSYLDB. It was an honour to present this award to my father in recognition of his commitment to our industry,” says Tom Kroesbergen, Chair, VFO.

View the full statement here.

VFO enters into agreements with the Canadian Beef Check-Off Agency

Partnership strengthens the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off program

The Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO) and the Canadian Beef Check-Off Agency (the Agency) are pleased to announce they have entered into agreements to strengthen Canadian veal marketing as a part of the larger Canadian beef and veal marketing initiative.

“This agreement between our two organizations ensures that VFO is meeting its obligations while at the same time providing value to both organizations with respect to programs and initiatives that will benefit our members and strengthen the overall Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off program,” said Tom Kroesbergen, VFO Chair.

“For our VFO members, it is very important to understand that there is no change to the licence fee rates or the amount being deducted from each head of veal cattle sold,” said Jennifer Haley, VFO Executive Director. VFO will be internally allocating a portion of its licence fees to be remitted to the Agency and will have full control over how these funds are allocated to veal specific programs.

Haley also explains that one of the additional benefits of the agreements will be the ability of the Agency to collect and remit to VFO licence fees on Ontario veal cattle that are processed outside of Ontario.

The Agreements will provide the opportunity for additional investments to be made into veal programming and marketing activities both domestically and in high-value global markets.

“As part of our overall strategic vision, VFO believes it is important to leverage the excellent marketing resources and infrastructure that are already in place with Canada Beef and we look forward to partnering with them to promote Canadian Veal both domestically and in export markets,” added Haley.

Agency Chair Chad Ross is confident the new Service and Collection Agreements will set up both organizations for success.

“We have worked hard to structure the Agreements in a way that ensures we can work together to bring more value for veal producers in Canada,” said Ross. “We continue to be committed to measurable returns for the check-off and import levy that are invested in our country, and that includes our veal producers as well.”

“Adding a member to the Agency’s Marketing Committee whose focus is veal marketing adds value to the skill set of our committee as a whole,” said Melinda German, General Manager of the Agency.

The Agreements between the Agency and VFO create consistency and aligned processes after the separation of VFO from the Beef Farmers of Ontario in 2015.

View the full statement here.

VFO STATEMENT: Veal carcass weight limit increase 

Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO) is very pleased to share some great news with our members and industry stakeholders concerning an issue we have worked very diligently on–obtaining an increase to the veal carcass weight limit. As of January 15, 2020, the weight limit for a veal carcass has been increased from 180 kg to 190 kg. The VFO, through our collaboration with the Canadian Veal Association (CVA), worked very hard over a very long period of time to make this amendment a reality. Please review this news release from the CVA for more details. It is up to our industry now to use this tool wisely.

What you need to know and why this matters:

  • This amendment now brings the maximum weight limit for a veal carcass from 180 kg to 190 kg and came into effect January 15, 2020.
  • The purpose of the amendment is to provide the Canadian veal industry with the flexibility and opportunity to manage veal carcass weights throughout the supply chain.
  • The extra 10 kg provides a ‘sleeve’ to give both producers and processors some breathing room. If properly managed by everyone, the sleeve can reduce the number of overweight carcasses; and reduce the losses for both the producer and the processor.
  • It is very important that all veal producers target their maximum shipping weights for 180 kg so that there remains some flexibility within the system to manage the veal carcass weights.
  • Veal carcasses that go over the maximum weight limit of 190 kg are deemed ungraded beef carcasses.
  • Processors need to send the appropriate market signals with purchasing ‘right-weighted’ veal cattle.
  • The sleeve is an important tool to help producers and processors manage risk and ensure there is some tolerance in the supply chain if properly managed.