Tomato farmers sue Thomas Canning for $2.85M

Nine tomato growers from Essex and Kent counties have filed a $2.85-million lawsuit against Thomas Canning for "breach of contract."

Each of the nine farmers signed an agreement to sell their crops totalling more than 33,000 tonnes to the Maidstone, Ont. canning company, according to a statement of claim filed on March 6.

"However, Thomas Canning only accepted delivery and paid for a portion of the tomatoes," the statement reads. "It refused or denied delivery and it did not pay for the bulk of the tomatoes."

The suit was filed in Superior Court and names company president Jack Thomas, vice-president of production Bill Thomas, vice-president of engineering Bob Thomas and chief financial officer Brian Payne.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

A woman who answered the phone at the plant Tuesday afternoon said none of the men were available, but agreed to take a message. None of the men called back.

The court document states some of the farmers were able to recoup part of their losses by selling some crop to other processing plants or by filing crop insurance claims, but all nine farmers lost between $217,000 to $394,000.

Thomas Canning was given a $3-million provincial grant in 2014 to expand the company's facility, but farmers have complained the money was used to buy equipment and increase production instead.