Is Ontario making the right decisions for farmers?

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The urgency to implement Neonicotinoid regulations, which is set to be effective on July 1, stands questioned as latest data shows a significant decrease in mortality rate for in-season bees, through improved best practices.

According to the recent data from the Government of Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency the mortality rate of in-season bee has decreased by 80%, and 70% for the 2015, and 2014 corn and soybean planting season compared to 2013.

“Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO) continue to promote the pollinator health blue print, and educate the members about what best management practices they can implement on their farm to help limit any impacts on pollinator health,” says Mark Brock, Chair of GFO.”

Pollinator health blue print was developed by GFO, along with a few beekeepers and industry partners to help identify opportunities which would enhance pollination and manage bee health.

Brock explains that this controversial issue initially started when neonic seed treatment was blamed for being the cause of the significant spring mortality of honeybees, back in 2012.

However, since then, the grain farmers as well as both levels of government, have worked to address the issue. As such, recent reports indicate that the new best management practices have been successful.

GFO opposes the regulation because they feel this approach from the government is narrowly focused and does not address all the stressors on pollinator, both managed and wild.

“To only focus on neonic seed treatments as the main stressor (which is not even scientifically proven), and not take a holistic approach to look at all the stressor identified by the provincial bee health working group is very frustrating,” stated Brock.

Even though the government provided GFO with opportunities for consultation, they failed to address any of the concerns brought forward by growers and industry.

As grain producers, they fail to see any positives that can come out of this regulation. Brock pointed out some major negative impacts such as increased use of foliar insecticides, which will put greater pressure on pollinators (much more than neonic seed treatments), and geographic economic disadvantage; the other jurisdictions will be able to use these products while Ontario’s farmer will be forced to comply to a flawed regulation.

Besides, concern of lack of investment and the potential for new safer products to be introduced, or reduction in crop yields and economic drain on farmers and corn and soybean processors in Ontario are some of the worries entailing the new Neonicotinoid regulation, shared Brock.

As much as it is important to monitor pollinator health and take step to address the concerns, they however need to be thought out and not knee jerk reactions, says Brock.

“This six month process undertaken by the provincial government is rash and unwarranted,” he said. The statement was justified by bringing to notice what other jurisdictions have done. For instance, the United States is taking steps with a plan that analyzes all aspects and will be gradually  implemented over 10 years, he said.

The European Union implemented a moratorium with little consultation. As a result, growers from 12 member nations will be exempt because of extreme pest pressure that can only be addressed with neonic seed treatments, added Brock.

Meanwhile, GFO remain committed to improving the pollinator health, and also to pushing back against government regarding the Neonicotinoid regulations.

“Grain Farmers of Ontario is the province’s largest commodity organization, representing Ontario’s 28,000 corn, soybean and wheat farmers. The crops they grow cover 5 million acres of farm land across the province, generate over 2.5 billion dollars in farm gate receipts, result in over 9 billion dollars in economic output and are responsible for over 40,000 jobs in the province.”

About Ugyen Wangmo 87 Articles
Ugyen Wangmo is a self trained media personal, steadfast to 'right to information'. She has about six years of media experience through a variety of roles as Reporter, Editor, Stringer, and Freelance writer. She graduated from Trent with a degree in Chemistry and Biology. When not nosing around for leads to write a thing or two about, she indulges in books, fashion, and dance.