NFU-O supports province on neonic reduction of 80 %
By Tom Collins
MIDDLESEX COUNTY The National Farmers Union in Ontario (NFU-O) supports the provinces restrictions on neonic-coated seeds but argues the government should do more to protect farmers, including changing crop insurance regulations.
In its submission to the provincial government on the decision to reduce neonic use in Ontario by 80 per cent by 2017, the NFU-O says the restriction puts too much responsibility on grain farmers who may lose yield, quality and income.
“As currently set up, crop insurance would not cover the potential losses to grain farmers from this regulation,” reads the NFU-Os response. “There should be a reworking of corn and soybean crop insurance if the regulation goes ahead, taking into consideration their average farm yield and their guaranteed production.”
The NFU-O would also like a program created to reward farmers who do not use neonic-treated seeds on a long-term basis. The NFU-O also believes the province should brand Ontarios grain as neonic-free as a marketing tool.
Karen Eatwell is the president of the NFU-O and runs a 350-acre conventional cash crop farm in Middlesex County. She doesnt use neonics on her farm but says the NFU-O supports the use of neonics on farms when the need is there. The NFU-O is against farmers who want to use neonics as a precautionary tool.
Tony Straathof, a NFU-O council member who runs a veal calf and mixed farm in Westmeath near Pembroke, says while he supports the governments initiative, hes not in favour of the way the province is implementing it, adding there needs to be more concessions for farmers.
“Like any new legislation, there is always give and take before its implemented,” he says. “Basically, this regulation is requiring grain growers to bear 100 per cent of the responsibility of reducing the neonics. Its irresponsible for the consumers or the government to ask for the farmer to carry the full brunt of the costs, as well as shoulder possible reduced yield and quality.”
Straathof has read the submissions from the Grain Farmers of Ontario and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. Their submissions are all about why the restrictions shouldnt happen, he says.
“I feel the NFU-O is offering the framework of how it can be made possible,” he says. “The other two submissions put a significant amount of their energy into opposing the initiative.”