Representatives of the Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions and the Grain Growers of Canada are advocating the need for a reconsideration
Industry groups are raising concerns about how a recent Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) regulatory proposal could affect farmers.
“…if a label contains no guidance related to tank mixing, then tank mixes will not be permitted,” states part of regulatory proposal PRO2020-01: Streamlined Category B Submissions and Tank Mix Labelling.
The Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions and the Grain Growers of Canada (GGC) both submitted letters to the PMRA outlining their apprehensions about this potential change.
“This change is big in the sense that there are a lot of tank mixes that aren't specified. So, (the change) would mean they must be specified in order to be used. So, it could create a big backlog of regulatory burden on the PMRA to go through all those mixes,” said Todd Hames, chair of Alberta Wheat.
Since 2009, farmers operated under PMRA guidelines that allowed unlabelled tank mixes of pest control to be used within the registered use pattern for each tank-mix partner, stated the Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions’ letter.
“This is going to create a lot of work and a lot of uncertainty for farmers because we could lose some tank mixes that we’ve depended on and used in the past,” Hames told Farms.com.
This proposal looks to be administrative and not based on specific safety concerns, the GGC letter stated.
“GGC strongly believes that this would needlessly increase regulations at a time when the Government of Canada (GoC) has made commitments to do the opposite, and when the Canadian grain value chain has made clear that GoC needs to remove, not increase, barriers to innovation and competitiveness as it looks to the agricultural sector for post-COVID-19 economic recovery,” stated the GGC letter.
This change could also mean farmers have to make more passes in the fields, said Hames.
Tackling weed resistance “is best combatted with tank mixing, by using more than one mode of action or product to tackle a weed issue,” he said. “If the farmer must do two or three passes, it’s burning more fuel, more time, more labour expense and so on. The environmental impact is larger, and our labour costs and equipment cost would be higher.”
Farmers may also not have enough time to treat weed problems as well as they should and this situation could cause more issues down the line, said Hames.
It seems this change would mean resources from the PMRA must be diverted from other projects to deal with tank mixes, said Hames.
“Maybe (the PMRA) had not thought of the ramifications of working through these old files again. We see it could be very problematic. In an era when we're trying to reduce redundant regulation, this is the wrong direction,” he said.
Reps from both the GGC and Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions want the PMRA to reconsider the proposed change and save farmers and retailers a lot of trouble this spring.
“If this goes through, and a lot of tank mixes get removed from the options in early spring, it could cause significant pain for farmers, retailers and the industry. Farmers would not be able to use those kinds of mixtures they're used to,” said Hames.
Photo credit: CNH Industrial photo