Letter from the Honourable Jeff Leal to the Grape Growers of Ontario membership


March 28, 2017

Dear Mr. Oppenlaender and Ms. Zimmerman:

Thank you for writing in follow up to our conversation about Ontario’s processing vegetable sector. 

To be very clear, the policy of our government is to support regulated marketing and the 21 marketing boards which currently exist in Ontario.

Last August I reiterated this support when issuing the directive to the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission (OFPMC) in respect to proposed changes to Regulation 440:

“Develop a plan for engagement and consultation with interested parties and stakeholders concerning any proposed amendments to the regulatory framework for the vegetables for processing industry. To be clear, it is the expectation of the Government of Ontario that such amendments, if any, will be consistent with the needs of both producers and processors and will contribute to the government of Ontario’s broad policy objectives of supporting regulated marketing and increasing the number of agriculture-related jobs in Ontario.” 

This directive remains in place, and I am looking forward to receiving the OFPMC’s recommendations that will address the 2018 crop year and beyond.

Over the fall and early winter, I have been closely monitoring the situation with regard to the 2017 contract negotiations between Ontario’s growers and processors in the processing vegetable sector. I heard from growers, processors and the OFPMC that some negotiations had reached an impasse, jeopardizing the 2017 crop season. 

That’s why on March 3, 2017, I acted to protect farm families, processing jobs and the sector’s approximately $89 million of farm gate receipts by appointing Elmer Buchanan as the temporary Trustee of the Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers (OPVG) Board. Mr. Buchanan assumed the existing powers of the OPVG Board, including the power to appoint producers to negotiating agencies, and had a mandate to complete the 2017 negotiations in a manner consistent with the current regulated marketing regime. It is expected that a newly elected board will be in place by the end of the year.

I want you to know that my actions were not entered into lightly and were in response to a unique situation in the processing vegetable sector. In an effort to respond to this pressing situation, our government acted to help save the 2017 crop season.  

My full statement is posted on the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ website (www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/farmproducts/minister-state-2017.htm) if you would like to read it.

I am pleased that the impasse has been resolved and that the OPVG and our three major tomato processors worked together to reach negotiated agreements for the 2017 growing season. I appreciate everyone’s hard work during the negotiating process to ensure that a deal was reached. You can read my full statement about the negotiations on my ministry’s website (www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/farmproducts/minister-state2-2017.htm).

These actions do not impact any other marketing boards regulated under the Farm Products Marketing Act. As I have stated on numerous occasions, our government has not wavered from its commitment to maintain regulated marketing in Ontario. This includes the ability of marketing boards to negotiate collectively on behalf of their members where such a requirement is included in the powers delegated to that board, as is the case for the Grape Growers of Ontario. 

Again, thank you for writing.


Jeff Leal
Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

We grow the wines you love in winter

This winter, enjoy warm evenings with a heartwarming glass of local, Ontario VQA Icewine!
visit localgrapes.ca for our winter feature including things to do, pairings to taste, tips & varietals, grapevine tidbits, and growers' stories. 


Grape Growers of Ontario re-elect Matthias Oppenlaender as Board Chair

The Grape Growers of Ontario are pleased to announce that Matthias Oppenlaender has been re-elected as Chair of the Board of Directors for 2017/18.

Matthias was selected as Grape King by his fellow grape growers in 2006 as an ambassador to represent the industry at events across the country. The following year Matthias was elected to the Grape Growers of Ontario’s Growers’ Committee and to the Board of Directors. In 2009 Matthias became Vice Chair of the Board, a position he held until being elected Chair in 2016. Matthias, his wife Monica and their five children live in Niagara-on-the-Lake where they farm over 400 acres of vineyards, and own Country Tyme Vineyards and Huebel Grape Estates.

Grape Growers of Ontario honour Paul Bosc Sr. with 2017 Award of Merit

St. Catharines, ON (April 10, 2017): The Grape Growers of Ontario Award of Merit is presented annually to recognize outstanding achievements made by an individual to the Ontario grape growing industry.

Matthias Oppenlaender, Chair of the Grape Growers of Ontario Chair, is pleased to announce that this year’s Award recipient is Paul Bosc Sr., in well-deserved recognition of the contributions he has made over the last fifty years to the Ontario grape and wine industry. Paul is a fitting winner as the Grape Growers of Ontario celebrate their 70th Anniversary this year.


Now Accepting Applications for the 2017 Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence Program!

Has your organization or one of your members developed and implemented a unique product or process that helps foster innovation in Ontario’s agriculture and food sector?  If so, the innovation could be eligible to receive one of the following awards from the Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence Program:

  • Premier’s Award (one award valued at $75,000)
  • Minister’s Award (one award valued at $50,000)
  • Leaders in Innovation Awards (three awards valued at $25,000 each)
  • Provincial Awards (45 awards valued at $5,000 each)

Primary producers / farmers, processors and agri-food organizations are invited to apply. 

A copy of the Program Guidebook and Application Form, as well as information on previous award recipients is available online at www.ontario.ca/agrifoodinnovation or by phone at 1-877-424-1300.

Applications will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. on Friday, April 28, 2017.

2017 Annual General Meeting


Grape Growers of Ontario
69th Annual General Meeting

Wednesday April 5, 2017 at 7:00 pm
Club Roma—125 Vansickle Road, St. Catharines
Voter Registration from 6:00—6:45 pm

AgriInvest PIN Required to File Forms Electronically to CRA

The following information applies to individual producers in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan.

Starting with the 2016 program year, producers must provide their Participant Identification Number (PIN) to electronically file their AgriInvest form to the Canadian Revenue Agency. The PIN is a participant's unique identifier for AgriInvest. It allows to automatically match a participant's 2016 information to their prior year records and prevents processing delays. 

Gerald Klose receives 2017 Cuvée Award of Excellence for Best White Vinifera


March 27, 2017 - Niagara, ON: The Grape Growers of Ontario congratulate Growers’ Committee member Gerald Klose of Niagara-on-the-Lake on receiving the 2017 Cuvée Award of Excellence for Best White Vinifera. Jamie Quai, 2017 Grape King, and Leta LaRush of BASF Canada presented Gerald with the award for his Chardonnay vineyard at the Grand Tasting event hosted by Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) on March 24th in Niagara Falls.