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Simcoe North NDP and PC candidates support science based approach to agricultural policy

GUELPH, ON (September 2, 2015) – Grain Farmers of Ontario asked candidates running in the September 3, 2015 Simcoe North by-election to share their views on how the Government of Ontario handled the regulation of neonicotinoid treated seeds and whether they would follow a science based approach to agriculture policy if elected.

Elizabeth Van Houtte, the NDP candidate replied to say:

“As the Member of Provincial Parliament for Simcoe North I will support a science-based approach and advocate for all farmers, including grain farmers, in Ontario being able to access appropriate tools to manage their crops.

The ONDP greatly appreciates the leadership shown by grain farmers on the issue of neonicotinoids, including their promotion and adoption of application practices that have already greatly reduced the impact of neonicotinoids. We were disappointed that the government recently refused Grain Farmers’ request for a short extension of the neonic consultations, which were launched during the spring planting season, thus limiting farmer participation. The ONDP believes all farmers should be treated as full partners towards finding demonstrably effective, science-based solutions that reduce the harmful impacts of neonicotinoid pesticides as much as possible.”

Patrick Brown, the PC candidate and party leader responded to say:

“Unfortunately, the political objectives of the Liberal Government have trumped science. The Wynne Liberal’s new regulation that will reduce the use of neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticide by 80 per cent by 2017 understandably has farmers across the province nervous for their next growing season.

The Ontario PC Party has long advocated for a science-based approach to neonics. Instead, the Wynne Liberals have taken a heavy-handed approach to Ontario’s agricultural sector by implementing this regulation without any conclusive evidence that it will decrease bee mortality rates. The Liberal Government has made this decision with limited consultation with industry, despite independent studies indicating that the cost to Ontario’s farmers could exceed $600-million annually.”

Fred Larson, the Liberal candidate provided the following quote in response:

“The Ontario Liberal government has been an avid supporter of the province’s agri-food sector. The Premier highlighted this in her challenge to the industry to create 120,000 new jobs and double the sector’s growth rate by 2020. I know there are a range of business development programs, research and other resources available to the farming community to encourage innovation and growth in both local and export markets.

The only way we can grow the agricultural industry is by working together and, if elected, I look forward to building my relationship with Simcoe’s farming community and bringing their voices to Queen’s Park.”

“We are disappointed that the Ontario Liberal’s ignored our request on behalf of farmers in Simcoe North to specifically comment on the neonicotinoid issue or science-based agriculture policy; but greatly appreciate the NDP and PC both acknowledging that the Ontario Liberal government did not adequately consult with farmers and making it clear they believe the agriculture sector needs to be a partner, working with government on a balanced approach to creating effective, science based policy, says Mark Brock, Chair of Grain Farmers of Ontario. “Farmers need MPPs who are prepared to stand up for a science based approach to agriculture and who will treat us as partners in policy making.”

Grain Farmers of Ontario is encouraging all grain farmers in Simcoe North to cast ballots for the candidate of their choice on Thursday September 3, 2015. For information on where to vote, please visit http://wemakevotingeasy.ca/en/home.aspx

NDP Response – Elizabeth Van Houtte, NDP Candidate Simcoe-North, Ontario NDP Party

PC Response – Patrick Brown, Leader, Ontario PC Party and PC Candidate Simcoe-North

Liberal Response - Fred Larson, Liberal Candidate, Simcoe-North

Grain Farmers of Ontario

Grain Farmers of Ontario is the province’s largest commodity organization, representing Ontario’s 28,000 barley, corn, oat, soybean and wheat farmers. The crops they grow cover 6 million acres of farm land across the province, generate over $2.5 billion in farm gate receipts, result in over $9 billion in economic output and are responsible for over 40,000 jobs in the province.

Contact:

Mark Brock, Chair - 519-274-3297; cropper01@hotmail.com

Meghan Burke, Communications – 519 767-2773; mburke@gfo.ca

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