By Tom Collins
PICTON If it werent for neonics, last years crop would have been horrible, says a Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO) director.
Like many Ontario farmers, district 13 director Lloyd Crowe, who farms near Picton with his uncle Larry Reynolds, was late planting soybeans last year. With the cold temperatures, lots of rain and standing water, he thought the beans would never emerge.
“A month later, sure enough, theyre healthy and strong and poking up through the ground,” he said. “And I can tell you one thing, untreated beans without that seed protection on it, theyre rotting in the ground.”
Neonics were the big issue at the three GFO eastern and east-central district annual meetings in January.
District 12 (Durham, Northumberland, Kawartha, Peterborough and Hastings counties) passed a motion asking the GFO to keep fighting for farmers rights to use neonics. District 13 (Prince Edward, Lennox & Addington, Frontenac, Lanark, Leeds and Grenville, Renfrew and Ottawa/Carleton) is considering a similar motion at the next monthly meeting.
“Neonics are the thin edge of the wedge,” said director Joe Hickson. “If this goes through uncontested, this will be minor compared with what were going to be dealing with in the future.”
A Conference Board of Canada report last year said that restricting the use of neonicotinoids would reduce corn and soybean revenues by more than $630 million per year in Ontario.
For the 26,926 GFO members, that equates to an average loss of about $23,400 per farmer. According to Statistics Canada, Ontario farmers selling corn and soybeans had average cash receipts of $113,280 in 2013.
“What were facing here is a major impact on the profitability of the farmer,” said Markus Haerle, director of district 14 (Prescott, Russell, Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry). “Is the grain farming industry ready to absorb that loss? I doubt it.”