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High Price to Pay for Restricting Neonics, Report

Conference Board of Canada Study Highlights the Economic Benefits of Neonicotinoid Seed Treatments

By Amanda Brodhagen,

Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO) and the Conference Board of Canada released “Seeds for Success: The Value of Seed Treatments for Ontario Growers,” a 76-page report that examines the economic consequences of restricting the use of neonicotinoid (neonic) treated seeds.

The study suggests that a potential regulatory change could reduce corn and soybean production (crop yields) by more than $630 million per year in Ontario. Potential policy changes that would make it more difficult for farmers to access neonic treated seeds could also hurt the province’s gross domestic product (GDP), by nearly $440 million.

The release of the report couldn’t have come out at a better time for grain farmers, as Ontario Agriculture Minister Jeff Leal said recently that the province is contemplating restricting the use of neonic pesticides, likely requiring farmers to apply for a licence in order to plant neonic-treated seeds. The report was originally expected to be released next week, but was instead published earlier than expected in light of the governments proposed plans.

A spokesperson at the minister’s office confirmed with Wednesday that the minsiter will be meeting with representatives from GFO in a closed meeting today [July 10] for the first time face-to-face, to discuss the neonic issue.

One of the authors of the report, Vijay Gill, said "for any significant change in regulations, it's important for governments to consider the effects on individual farming businesses, as well as the broader costs and benefits,” adding that a cost-benefit analysis can be helpful when exploring new regulatory changes.

The study warns that a hypothetical restriction on neonics could result in higher input costs and lower yields. This result alone would more than likely reduce profits for corn and soybean farmers. Additionally, such an action would results in competitors from the United States (and other provincial jurisdictions) having an economic advantage over Ontario grain farmers. A move that could force farmers out of business, would be at a disadvantage when competing in the global marketplace.

The full report can be read on the Conference Board of Canada website.

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