Nursery Sod Growers Association of Ontario

ON Sod Marketing Board

ON Sod Marketing Board Proposal

As many of you are aware, the Nursery Sod Growers Association of Ontario (NSGA), intends to submit an application to the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission to request the formation of a marketing board for Ontario sod growers under the Farm Products Marketing Act. Most often, this request prompts a producer expression of opinion vote to gauge producer support. The purpose of the proposed organization will be to promote the production and marketing of sod in Ontario.

About the NSGA
Formed in 1960, the Nursery Sod Growers Association of Ontario (NSGA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to promote the value of sod through education and cooperation with allied stakeholders for the benefit of Ontario consumers and the trade alike. The main objectives of the Association are: to influence decision-makers regarding the value of sod; create alliances with stakeholders; and engage our members to be industry spokespersons to advance our sector.

The tentative, proposed name of the new organization is “Turfgrass Farmers of Ontario”
If the new organization is approved by growers and the government, it will carry on with many of the same objectives and the NSGA will be dissolved. While membership in the NSGA is voluntary, membership in the new organization would be mandatory.

Reasons for forming a marketing board under the Farm Products Marketing Act
In order to grow the sod industry in Ontario and to raise consumer awareness of the benefits of sod there needs to be an organization in place to work on behalf of all growers. This organization needs to be funded by all commercial sod growers and have stability to advocate, promote and conduct research for the industry.
The Farm Products Marketing Act enables producer sectors to provide for market stability and growth through collective action which follows democratic principles. If we work together to use this tool wisely, we believe it can make a positive difference to our sector in Ontario.
Ontario sod producers have seen little to no growth in the marketplace and profits in the sector have been declining. Lower housing starts and smaller lot sizes are affecting new home installation sales. The pesticide ban and municipal watering restrictions have had an effect on sod purchases by homeowners as well as municipal and project management decision makers. Infrastructure projects that were traditionally users of sod are turning to alternative ground covers and solutions. The perceived value and benefit of sod is losing ground.
In a proactive attempt to influence decision-makers and re-gain market share through education and outreach, the NSGA has engaged the marketing consulting firm Edelman. The implementation of a comprehensive marketing campaign developed by Edelman will be one main objective of the marketing board. The proposed authority to collect license fees from all commercial sod producers in Ontario will provide a stable cash flow to fund this proposed on-going marketing activity to raise consumer awareness and promote the benefits of sod.

How this will affect you
As all growers will benefit from this intensive generic promotion of Ontario sod, all producers will contribute through licence fees to fund the proposed new organization. The proposed licence fee is based on a snapshot of “green acreage”, which will include all acres of newly seeded and sod in production, as taken in October of each year. The amount of the proposed licence fee is to be determined through discussion with growers.

Governance
The new organization is proposing a board of seven directors elected by all Ontario sod producers. If a new marketing board is created on the advice of the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission and the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, it is the expectation that the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission will appoint the board of directors for the first year. After the first year, all sod producers will be eligible and encouraged to seek election to the Board to set the direction for the industry.

Your Vote Counts
Should the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission accept the proposal in development by the NSGA, it will determine whether or not to conduct a producer expression of opinion vote of all identified Ontario sod producers. In order for a producer expression of opinion vote to be considered indicative of producer support, there is an expectation that at least two-thirds of the producers casting valid ballots vote in favour of the question and those in favour represent at least 50% of the cumulative acreage of the producers casting valid ballots. It is important to ensure that your sod business receives the information package and the opportunity to vote. In order to ensure that you are included in the database of eligible sod producers, please go to the NSGA website in order to provide the name of your sod business and your mailing address.

The Draft Proposal to the Farm Products Marketing Commission is currently being revised. Please contact nsga@rogers.com for more information.

Please Share
The NSGA is interested in contacting all Ontario sod producers to make them aware of this message. Please pass this on to other producers. The Board of NSGA is looking forward to receiving your input on this proposal and allowing us to explain it in more detail as we are keen to ensure that any steps we take as a sector are in the best interests of Ontario sod growers.

Add your name to the ON Sod Producers Database
To be included in the mailing list for information and updates on the ON sod marketing board proposal, and to be included on the ON Sod Producers Voters List, for the producer expression of opinion vote to be conducted by the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission.
Send you contact information, including your Business Name, Mailing Address, Phone number, Email address, to:
nsga@rogers.com
Or to the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission Marketing Analyst, Marilyn Sewell:
marilyn.sewell@Ontario.ca P: 519-826-3397

Questions? More Information?
Please contatct:
The NSGA at 519-265-6742 or nsga@rogers.com (Email is preferred).
Greg Skotnicki, President of the NSGA
(613) 220-2096 Cell or gskotnicki@manderley.com
Marilyn Sewell, Marketing Analyst Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission
519)-826-3397 marilyn.sewell@Ontario.ca