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Grain Farmers of Ontario React to the Government’s Plan to Restrict Pesticide Use

By Amanda Brodhagen, Farms.com

The Ontario government plans to restrict the use of neonictionoid, (neonic for short) pesticides thought to be linked to bee deaths, making it the first province in Canada to take such an action.

News about the government’s move to restrict the use of neonics took the agriculture industry by surprise when it was first reported in The Globe and Mail late Sunday afternoon. In a strongly worded press release, Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO) says it is “extremely disappointed” with the news article, adding that their relationship with the newly appointed minister of agriculture, Jeff Leal, is not off to a good start.

“The effort and leadership grain farmers have demonstrated on this issue has been second to none, and to have this discounted with such a rash move and announcement through media, is frankly insulting,” Henry Van Ankum, Chair of GFO said in a release. 

In the release, Ankum highlights some of the significant efforts that have been made to deal with the public’s growing concern about bee health. Initiatives include: farmers using the new mandatory Fluency Agent, modifying planting equipment, and participating in field trials. The province’s largest commodity group, GFO, is upset that the government didn’t consult with farmers and the grain industry ahead of it being reported in the media, expressing concern over the negative financial impact that a proposed new regulatory process will have on the agriculture community.

According to Leal, the province plans to hold meetings with industry stakeholders, farmers, beekeepers and agriculture companies to discuss putting in place a licensing system that farmers will have to register through in order to purchase neonic-treated seed for the 2015 planting season.

“Over the coming months I want to first consult with industry, farmers and environmental stakeholders on options that are practical, including the consideration of a license system,” Leal said in an emailed statement. “Our intention is to move away from the widespread, indiscriminate use of neonicotinoid-based pesticides.”

The minister’s staff told Farms.com that Leal plans to speak with GFO representatives over the phone later today to discuss the government’s plans and next steps for the grain industry.

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