GUELPH, ON (July 9, 2013) – Ontario farmers have faced unusual and extreme weather conditions that adversely affect many aspects of agriculture. One prevalent and complex issue is an increase in bee deaths.
“Many North American studies are underway and numerous risk factors to bee health have been identified, including varroa mites, poor nutrition/lack of forage, drought, winter-kill, and diseases,” says John Cowan, VP of Strategic Development at Grain Farmers of Ontario. “The public is pointing to neonicotinoid seed treatments as a possible contributing factor, but it is critical that all risks are fully understood and all stakeholders consulted before considering a blanket ban on seed treatments that are critical to Ontario’s 28,000 grain farmers.”
Grain Farmers of Ontario is actively involved in several initiatives to enhance bee protection. These include ensuring that farmers implement best management practices and working with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, the Ontario Ministry of Rural Affairs, the University of Guelph, and the University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus to support research into pollinator health.
“Neonicotinoid seed treatments are a vital tool for Ontario’s corn, soybean and wheat farmers,” says Cowan. “Without this technology, farmers have a potential for yield loss of 3-20 bushels per acre which would result in significant ramifications for the entire food value chain.”
Banning the use of neonicotinoid treatments would make it impossible for Ontario’s farmers to compete with their peers in other regions, such as the United States and Western Canada, who would continue to have access to these technologies. Grain Farmers of Ontario looks forward to further investigation into the challenges of protecting both crops and pollinators in the face of numerous environmental obstacles.
Grain Farmers of Ontario
Grain Farmers of Ontario is the province’s largest commodity organization, representing Ontario’s 28,000 corn, 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.