Mt. Angel, Ore., July 20, 2020
Wilco’s Hazelnut Advisory Committee and Board of Directors, all farmer-owners who represent the cooperative’s ~200 hazelnut farms, have agreed not to sign the recently modified Hazelnut Growers Bargaining Association Agreement (HGBA). Only Wilco’s HGO WestNut subsidiary had signed the agreement in past years and 6.36% of the total HGO-WestNut 2019 deliveries were from growers who signed the HGBA.
Wilco’s management team and Board felt there was not much value for the grower-owned cooperative and given the significant modifications to the contract this year it was in the best interest of Hazelnut Growers of Oregon (HGO), and their WestNut cash delivery subsidiary, not to sign the agreement.
HGO’s WestNut subsidiary has typically signed the HGBA agreement and HGO is not directly a signer because payment of grower field prices and any additional profits for growers are already inherent in the cooperative bylaws. Wilco’s HGO Cooperative receives most of their hazelnuts through member-owners and will continue to encourage non-members to deliver through WestNut, for traditional packer payment, mirroring those of HGBA Packers.
Wilco’s WestNut cash delivery subsidiary is open to all growers and remains committed to paying the same market rates as HGO and gives all growers an option for a conventional packer payment schedule, within 45 days of delivery. Not signing the agreement is really no change for the growers as HGO and WestNut will continue to pay the HGBA negotiated field prices for their crop and maintain testing and protocols in the best interest of their grower-owners and the long-term sustainability of the cooperative.
Wilco plans to stay engaged with the HGBA and appreciates their goal to help maintain fairness between growers and processors, however, since HGO is grower-owned that accountability and fairness to the grower are built into the business model.