GUELPH – Following a technical briefing from the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, as well as a thorough review of the draft seed treatment regulations, Grain Farmers of Ontario has determined the regulations to be unworkable and the organization strongly opposes any action to move them forward.
“Our organization has spent a significant amount of time reviewing and evaluating the draft regulations and brought forward numerous questions to the Ontario government regarding various aspects of the plan,” says Mark Brock, Chair of Grain Farmers of Ontario. “The lack of clarity, inability to address very real on-farm challenges with respect to implementation of the regulations, and the timelines imposed on the industry as a whole create an unmanageable, widespread burden to agriculture.”
The regulations present countless areas of concern including, but not limited to, pest assessment methods, selection of pests identified as valid, industry capacity to manage requirements, and liability and insurance implications.
“The regulations, as drafted, create insurmountable barriers to access neonicotinoid seed treatment – essentially, the government has developed a ban on the product,” says Brock. “The primary concern for our organization is the livelihood of Ontario’s grain farmers, and these regulations will be highly detrimental to the sustainability of these farmers, with many members wondering if there is a future for the next generation of family farmers in this province.”
The implications beyond the farm level are extensive as well, with agricultural science and technology companies moving investments out of Ontario. As a regulation made outside of scientific evidence and based in the precautionary principle, it signals that Ontario operates unique to the rest of North America and is a high risk market with an unpredictable regulatory system.
“Grain Farmers of Ontario sees no opportunity to collaborate on these regulations because the number of fundamental, unworkable areas is far too extensive,” says Brock. “We care very much about the health of pollinators and have worked with stakeholders, including beekeepers, to find a collaborative and sustainable approach forward for agriculture and bees, which was the Ontario Pollinator Health Blueprint and which the government dismissed entirely. Remaining focussed on a positive future for agriculture in this province, Grain Farmers of Ontario firmly opposes the draft seed treatment regulations.”