FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Sept. 16, 2015
QUEEN’S PARK – Who is standing up for farming at the Cabinet table?
Toby Barrett, Haldimand-Norfolk MPP and Opposition Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Critic, asked that question of Jeff Leal, Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Leal dodged the question, instead charging back about supply management and risk management.
“The amended regulation 63/09 indicates that all treated corn and soybean seed is now registered as a class 12 pesticide, so it characterizes a treated seed as a pesticide and therefore regulate the seed, not the pesticide,” Barrett said in the Legislature. “It’s unacceptable. It’s unnecessary. It’s inappropriate. It will cause significant and irrevocable economic damage without any clear evidence with any off-setting benefits for pollinators. Yet another reason farmers realize your regulatory process is simply unworkable.
Barrett concluded by asking, “. . . why would you, as Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture, regulate a seed itself as a pesticide?”
In his first question during Question Period, Barrett maintained the new regulation on neonics questions the integrity of consulting agronomists, disqualifying those are associated with Ontario’s seed trade sector.
Unsatisfied with the answers to both questions, Barrett was granted a follow-up debate during the evening seating.
Please see the Hansard and video clip attached.
For more information, contact MPP Toby Barrett at 416-325-8404 or [email protected]
Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015
Ontario Legislative Assembly
Mr. Toby Barrett: To the Minister of Agriculture: 28,000 members of the Grain Farmers of Ontario have been forced by your government to go to court seeking an immediate stay to the regulation banning neonics. Peggy Brekveld, a Thunder Bay dairy and crop farmer, vice-president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, charges that your regulations are unworkable, and I quote: “We will be required to have a certified crop adviser to inspect our fields. There are only about a hundred certified crop advisers who are qualified to do these inspections.
Minister, your regs question the integrity of consulting agronomists, disqualifying those who work with the seed trade. Where are you going to find sufficient crop advisers who are not associated with Ontario’s seed trade sector?
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The Minister of Agriculture.
Hon. Jeff Leal: Mr. Speaker, for you, I want to thank the member for his question this morning, from Haldimand–Norfolk. Clearly over the last little while, we’ve identified four key areas that have put stresses on pollinators in the province of Ontario. We’ve identified that over the last two winters, that have been extremely cold, which has an impact on our pollinators in Ontario. We do know that there are mites that invade beehives in the province of Ontario—the varroa mite. Thirdly, there is the management of hives in the province of Ontario, those hives that are professionally managed and those hives that are managed by hobbyists in that area. And, fourthly, we do know that the blanket use of neonic application in the province of Ontario is having an impact on the health of pollinators right across the province of Ontario.
Just recently, Mr. Speaker, we’ve embarked along with our agriculture partners a general pollinator strategy for the province of Ontario. It’s the way to go forward.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I just want to remind, as I’ve reminded others, that it’s two ??minutes here, ??.
Mr. Toby Barrett: Yes, Speaker. Back to the regs, and farmers do want to know just who is standing up for farming at the cabinet table. The amended regulation 63/09 indicates that all treated corn and soybean seed is now registered as a class 12 pesticide, so it characterizes a treated seed as a pesticide and therefore regulate the seed, not the pesticide. It’s unacceptable. It’s unnecessary. It’s inappropriate. It will cause significant and irrevocable economic damage without any clear evidence with any off-setting benefits for pollinators. Yet another reason farmers realize your regulatory process is simply unworkable.
Minister, why would you, as Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture, regulate a seed itself as a pesticide?
Hon. Jeff Leal: I certainly want to thank the member for his supplement, but I want to know where the official opposition stands in defending supply management in the province of Ontario. I want to know where the official opposition stands, providing 60% by the government of Canada to make our risk management program whole for all the farmers of the province of Ontario.
But, thirdly, Mr. Speaker, I want to quote about some people who are agronomists in this area. Greg Stewart, the official agronomist for Maizex Seeds, has said about purchasing untreated seed when needed: “It’s not too difficult.” DeKalb agronomist Bob Thirwall said the process isn’t as onerous as some growers think: “We’ve talked about it with a few growers: Is it any more work than the paperwork for having insecticide applied by airplane? We decided it’s actually less work.” Ken Currah, Pride agronomist: “We are encouraging growers to have that discussion with their agronomists. ‘What acres need I need it on? What percentage can I do without?”
This is what I’m hearing from grassroots farmers—