By Tom Collins
OTTAWA — The new neonic regulations would see the average farm lose $61,600 each year, says a study prepared for CropLife Canada.
The report — conducted by the Regulatory Impacts/Alternatives/Strategies (RIAS) group in Ottawa — says Ontario farmers would lose $882.1 million in income each year. Very large farms, with revenues of $500,000 or more would be the hardest hit, with an average revenue reduction of $237,600 per year.
By comparison, the honey value in Ontario last year was $30.3 million — its highest amount ever, besting 2012’s $23.8 million by almost $7 million — while the five-year average is $23.48 million.
The provincial government is looking to pass new regulations that would prevent farmers from using neonic seed treatment on 50 per cent of their corn and soybean seeds in 2016 and force farmers to have pest assessments to use neonics at all starting in 2017, with the goal of reducing neonic use in Ontario by 80 per cent by 2017.
The report also says “an average yield loss of over 10 per cent for corn and soybean acres in Ontario is an acceptable outcome to the government of Ontario.”
The report says corn production is expected to drop by 2.6 million tonnes per year and one million tonnes for soybeans per year. Ontario’s annual yield average for corn is 8.2 million tonnes and 3.35 million tonnes for soybeans.
A spokesperson with RIAS says these are conservative estimates.
Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO) chair Mark Brock says he is not surprised by the numbers.
“I think farmers are starting to realize how much of an impact this is going to have on their operations,” he said. “The reality is starting to sink in with the average farmer. Lack of foresight and lack of understanding of the agronomics and the industry is just proof with this regulation that they don’t care about the economic impact they have on rural Ontario. They are basically saying to corn and soybean producers in Ontario, ‘Maybe you shouldn’t grow these crops in Ontario if it’s not going to be economically viable with this regulation.’”
Brock estimates that if he loses 10 per cent of his yield on 600 acres of corn, with an average of 180 bushels per acre and corn at $4, he would lose $43,200 in one year.
“That could be the profit for the farm for the year,” he says. “That’s where our frustration is. We work on that five to 15 per cent margin. You take that percentage of yield away and that’s our margin.”
For soybeans, a 10 per cent yield loss on 600 acres with an average of 50 bu/ac and sold at $11.50/bu would pencil out to a loss of $34,500.
Brock say the government needs to do an economic assessment of a regulation before it can be implemented but the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change won’t release its economic report. The GFO has requested the report through a freedom of information request.