TORONTO — About 150 farmers went to a Toronto courthouse March 9 to support the Grain Farmers of Ontario’s legal fight against the province’s new neonicotinoid-treated seed regulations.
The GFO ordered five buses to pick up farmers across the province and trek them to the Queen Street courthouse in the heart of Toronto. The GFO was at the Ontario Court of Appeal in hopes of reversing an October dismissal of their case by a Superior Court judge. The GFO wants to push regulations back to May 1, which would effectively push the regulations back by one year.
Provincial regulations that require farmers to conduct pest assessments before being allowed to use neonic-treated seeds on more than 50 per cent of their fields this year came into effect last summer. Farmers will need pest assessments on all fields that use neonics starting in 2017. While GFO awaits the court decision, some farmers have yet to do the required pest assessments, while others have put in hours of work to satisfy the new government demands. In fact, some large farms say the new regulations have cost them up to one full week of new work to check for grubs and other pests in the field and fill out paperwork.
The province argues neonics kill honeybees, while the GFO says the province is short on science and is cherry-picking studies while ignoring at least six other bee stressors, including poor beekeeper management.
The GFO argues the new regulations are unworkable because of the new labour and paperwork involved, as well as the negative yield impact, and wants to delay the regulations until May 1 or until farmers can meet the regulations’ requirements.
The appeal court did not announce a decision as of March 31.