Ontario Agriculture Minister Jeff Leal has unveiled proposed bee-friendly regulations to restrict the use of neonicitinoid seed treatments.
Farmers will require a licence and training and no more than half of a farmer’s corn and seed acres can be planted with neonicitinoid-treated seed.
But the regulations take effect in July, after this season’s planting.
Leal made his move two days before he’s to meet with leaders of Grain Farmers of Ontario who have been highly critical of the government’s proposal to reduce seed-treated acreage by 80 per cent by 2017.
Leal is proposing a new Class 12 under the provincial Pesticides Act to embrace seeds treated with imidacloprid, thiamethoxam or clothianidin.
The training farmers will need is in Integrated Pest Management and will be available both classroom and online formats. It’s to be ready by fall and farmers who successfully complete the course by spring would get a five-year certification number.
The course is meant to “promote the use of different methods to prevent and reduce the risk of pests and encourage beneficial insects,” and would also cover identification of pests, pest scouting methods and “alternative methods” to pesticides.
For the 2016 growing season the regulation proposes a “voluntary approach” allowing the purchase and use of neonic-treated seed on up to 50 per cent of acres planted to corn or soybeans, if a written declaration is made.
A “pest assessment” — identifying pest problems above pre-determinded thresholds — would need to be completed for planting neonic-treated seed beyond that level. Farmers would be able to perform a soil pest assessment in 2015 ahead of the 2016 growing season.
Past the 2016 season, a farmer wanting to order neonicotinoid-treated seeds would need IPM training and a pest assessment, to be done by an independent professional pest advisor, showing a pest infestation. Assessments would have to be submitted to the Agriculture Ministry.
On the sales side, the regulation calls for the 20 seed companies now selling neonic-treated seed in Ontario to obtain a new “treated seed vendors licence,” and would allow sales only to people with IPM training or to other licensed treated-seed vendors.
Licensed vendors would be required to notify purchasers if the seed they’re buying is neonic-treated seed, to make sure untreated seed is available for purchase, and to report sales of both neonic-treated and untreated seeds to the provincial Environment Ministry.