The Six Nations Farmers Association is seeking to ban the Indian Agricultural Program of Ontario from the territory after allegations of bad business dealings with local farmers.
Jesse Porter, a member of the SNFA, alleged at elected council’s Political Liaison meeting on Monday that IAPO bullied Six Nations farmers and is trying to take some of them to court.
None of the allegations have been proven.
IAPO provides financing, training and assistance to First Nations farmers and in 2013, began providing financing for all other types of businesses.
Porter has been working with Coun. Nathan Wright and Elected Chief Mark Hill on a strategy to deal with the issues he says the farmers are facing with IAPO.
Porter said IAPO started in the 1980s to advocate for funds on behalf of farmers but he claimed farmers were never informed how the funds would benefit them.
“How do we get them to be responsible for their actions?” Porter asked.
He said Six Nations produces one of the largest cash crops of any First Nation in Ontario that requires a lot of capital to manage.
“The IAPO has taken on a life of its own without the native communities playing a part or guiding the future of that program and it’s impacted the members very substantially,” Porter said.
“We’re looking for assistance to get the IAPO accountable for the issues that have arisen in the past 20 years. How do they justify the funds that they get?”
Porter also claimed IAPO received money to help with the fallout of Covid-19. An email to IAPO confirming the claims about Covid funding was not returned by press time.
“I’m not sure what’s going on there,” said Porter. “These things have been happening a lot. The funds get there, we have no idea how they got there, who they came from, we have no idea how to access them until it’s all done with.”
Coun. Helen Miller suggested a meeting between elected council and the Minister of Agriculture to straighten things out.
“They’ve (IAPO) never conversed with council in all the years I’ve been sitting here,” said Miller.
Porter asked council for a motion banning IAPO from Six Nations, “until there’s clarity on their activities.”
Coun. Audrey Powless-Bomberry said council would have to get a legal opinion before deciding to ban the organization.
Coun. Helen Miller encouraged council to contact national media “to make noise” about the issue.
“We’ve got to get this out there. We’ve got to get national on this. That’s what we need to do in terms of communication. When you start telling the broader public what’s going on, they start listening, because they don’t want their names in the paper.”
Council did not ban the IAPO from Six Nations but agreed to arrange a meeting with the Minister of Agriculture and the Six Nations Farmers Association.
The IAPO did not return requests for comment and clarification by press time.