BCFGA president in a jam

Resolution passed at the Okanagan Tree Fruit Cooperative AGM calls for punitive action against B.C. Fruit Growers' Association

A resolution passed at the Okanagan Tree Fruit Cooperative AGM last week may not even come up for discussion when the newly elected board of directors holds its first meeting Thursday.

The resolution in question was put forward by Glen Cross, a Kelowna fruit grower and former director of the board. He wants the packinghouse to take punitive action against the B.C. Fruit Growers Association and cease funding the organization until BCFGA president Kirpal Boparai either steps down or is removed by their executive.

Earlier this month, the OTFC took action against Boparai directly, when the grower allegedly breached his contract with the co-op by selling a portion of his apple crop independently. Growers who have signed contracts with the co-op are required to sell 100 per cent of their crops through the organization.

Boparai, who was elected as president of the growers’ lobby organization last January, aired complaints about the packinghouse system similar to those of some cherry growers earlier this year, who chose to leave their fruit on the trees rather than sell them at below the cost of production through the co-op.

After four seasons of poor prices, Boparai said growers lacked confidence in the organization and that changes needed to be made at the upper management level, suggesting the organization was not being aggressive enough.

Rob Dawson, acting president of the OTFC board, said the board may choose not to discuss the resolution.

“It’s up to the board of directors to decide,” said Dawson, explaining that the board isn’t bound to act on every resolution passed at the AGM. He likens it to the provincial government being forced to act on every whim of the voting public, which he said would soon lead to not having a government.

If the board members are not living up to the desires of the voters in the OTFC, Dawson said, they will be voted out of office when their term ends.

Dawson said it is not up to the packing house to set the political agenda for the BCFGA.

And were the board of directors to wish to take the action prescribed in the resolution, Dawson said it would require a legal opinion at the least, considering the contractual obligations. The co-op collects membership fees for the BCFGA, as part of contracts it has with its member growers, but the two organizations are separately run.

However, Dawson refuses to comment further on the dispute.

“We’re not conducting our business in the media,” said Dawson.


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