Ontario environment minister Glen Murray apologized to farmers at the Ontario Federation of Agriculture’s annual general meeting on Nov. 22 for neonicotinoid regulations that were forced upon the ag community.
Murray said the province is working on a proposal that will make neonic compliance easier, but no details were shared. The almost complete ban on neonic-treated corn and soybean seeds has caused an enormous amount of friction between the province and crop farmers.
Murray also admitted neonics are not the sole cause of bee deaths, and that mites, diseases and nutrition also play a role.
Ontario provincial regulations came into effect in July, 2015, that required farmers to conduct pest assessments before being allowed to use neonic-treated corn and soybean seeds on more than 50 per cent of their fields in 2016. Farmers will need a pest assessment on all fields that use neonics starting in 2017. Some farmers say it takes an hour of paperwork and scouting for every 100 acres of farmland they plant.
Almost all of the corn seeds in Ontario and 60 per cent of soybean seeds were treated with neonics.
Murray said he wants to work with farmers on issues such as the environment and climate change.