Ontario MPP for Huron-Bruce, Lisa Thompson, has launched an initiative aimed at addressing concerns that the next phase of Ontario’s neonicotinoid regulations will unfairly limit farmers’ choices and the professional reach of agriculture professionals.
Last week, Thompson introduced to the provincial legislature Bill 4, the Supporting Agricultural Experts in Their Field Act, 2016, in counter to changes set to roll out in August, 2017.
The next phase of Ontario Regulation 63/09 will see restrictive limits placed on Professional Pest Advisors (Certified Crop Advisors and those holding the Professional Agrologist designation) “associated with a manufacturer or retailer of a Class 12 pesticide (neonicotinoid seed treatments).” It means that any CCA or P. Ag employed by a retail outlet that sells treated seed, for example, may not act as a professional pest advisor. Pest advisor sign-off is required for access to neonics, beginning next fall.
Of the approximately 600 licensed Ontario CCAs and P. Ags currently approved to conduct pest assessments, Thompson says only 80 would meet the new requirements. Thompson says of those 80, only two serve Northern Ontario. Not only does this create a bottleneck for farmers trying to wade through the paperwork required to access neonics, it also limits the reach of fully-trained and approved agriculture professionals, she says.
Bill 4 would set out a definition of a professional pest advisor in the Pesticides Act, for the purpose of the Act and any regulations made under it, Thompson says, and would remove any reference to where CCAs and/or P. Ags work.
“If this government insists on restricting the use of neonicotinoids via regulations for goodness sake, let’s at least make sure they are workable,” says Thompson.