What Increased Ontario Regulation of Neonic Use May Look Like — An Interview with Jeff Leal

Last week, the Ontario government announced its plan of an “aspirational” goal of an 80% reduction in acres planted to corn and soybean seed treated with neonicotinoid seed treatments by 2017. What farmers need to know now is how they are expected to meet said goal, and what the stated increase in rules and regulations may look like.

Beginning next week, farmers, agriculture industry and consumers are invited to attend a series of consultation events set to be held in urban-centres Toronto, Kingston and London, over the course of December and into January. A web-based meeting is also an option, for those with a fast enough Internet connection. Find the list and locations of meetings here.

There’s also an online form interested parties can fill out during the 61-day comment period. That can be found by following this link.

In the Ontario government’s discussion paper, released in conjunction with the announcement on November 25th, examples of the conditions for purchase and use are outlined as follows:

In order to purchase and use NNI-treated corn and soybean seed, it is proposed that a person would have to:

  • be a “Qualified Farmer” or licensed agriculture exterminator as set out in Ontario Regulation 63/09 under the Pesticides Act;
  • complete focussed Integrated Pest Management (IPM) training for growing corn and soybeans;
  • document integrated pest management activities taken to reduce pest threats;
  • complete a credible risk assessment that demonstrates the need to use NNI-treated corn and soybean seed because of a particular pest presence above a specific threshold , and
  • obtain verification of the assessment by a third party to confirm that the method used to determine the risk of pest presence was properly followed.

There has been, as of yet, no mention of the cost of this new regulatory system — either to administer, or to farmers’ participation.

In the interview below, Real Agriculture’s editor, Lyndsey Smith, asks Ontario’s minister for agriculture, food and rural affairs, Jeff Leal, a series of questions regarding how set the regulatory framework is already, if there will be new standards and restrictions for beekeepers, why there’s a discrepancy between OMAFRA’s extension experts and the government’s aspirational goal and if more products are expected to be restricted in the near future.

Further to this last question, Ontario’s premier, Kathleen Wynne, made the following statement last week at the Premier’s Summit on Agri-Food:  “…I also want to take a minute to directly address some concerns I have heard just since we’ve been in this process, about our policy on neonics being perhaps the first in a series of initiatives that would increase the regulatory burden. I cannot say any more clearer to you than this. This is not about some kind of agenda that would lead to more regulatory burden. That’s not what this is about. In fact, we remain committed to the work being done through the Open for Business forum on agriculture that has achieve an enormous amount, and I want to achieve more…”

Related: Grown-up Bullying Alive and Well in Ontario as Farmers Get Steamrolled on Neonics

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