Bill 4 passes second reading at Queen’s Park
by Andrea Gal
Managing Editor, Integrated Media
A private member’s bill, which has implications for Ontario farmers, passed second reading in Queen’s Park late last week. According to a release from Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson, Bill 4 is intended to make “the regulations surrounding Class 12 pesticides more workable for Ontario’s corn and soy bean producers.”
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According to the provincial government website, neonic regulations are to be phased in “to allow farmers to adapt.” One of these regulations, intended to be introduced in August 2017, is that Certified Crop Advisors (CCAs) and Professional Agrologists (PAgs) associated with manufacturers or retailers of a Class 12 pesticide cannot complete soil pest assessment reports. These reports must be completed in order for farmers to plant neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seed.
These exclusions will mean only 80 of the approximately 600 CCAs and PAgs in Ontario can complete these assessments beginning in August 2017. Reports say only two advisors would be available to assist farmers in northern Ontario. The small number of approved professional pest advisors could present challenges for farmers in accessing neonicotinoid-treated seed.
But, Bill 4, the Supporting Agricultural Experts in their Field Act, would eliminate these exclusions.
"Farmers should have the freedom to work with whomever they choose, and it is my hope that the government will work together with the agri-food industry to ensure Ontario's agri-food experts can all be outstanding in their field," said Thompson.
The Bill has been referred to the Standing Committee on General Government, according to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario website.