Farmers urged to consider plight of pollinators


Concern about the harmful impact of pesticides on honeybee producers needs to be extended to wild pollinators, which are just as much at risk, says the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario.

As part of the ongoing debate over the loss of pollinators, CFFO executive members recently met with David Ghoulson, a bumblebee expert at the University of Sussex in England to discuss the various factors that effect wild pollinators in the European environment.

One of them is neonicitinoid (neuro-active) pesticides that can lead to honey bee colony collapse disorder.

Europe has taken stronger action on the use of neonic pesticides than North America to date,” Nathan Stevens, the CFFO’s general manager writes in a commentary on the organization’s blog.

That is particularly so “on products where the risk of exposure to wild pollinators has been deemed to be high,” he writes.

Research indicates that three major factors need to be considered for wild pollinator hives to be resilient and healthy. The first is a suitable habitat for the wild bee and other pollinating insect populations with plentiful food supplies during the time of year they are active.

The second is the impact that prophylactic use of neonic pesticides is having on those other populations.

The third is the disease pressure from a variety of sources.

“From our perspective, it appears that it is worthy of investigating whether one of these factors being a problem is sufficient to seriously harm or kill off a hive,” writes Stevens, “or if whether two or more factors create a serious problem.

While the CFFO does not currently support a suspension of neonic use, he says, “we do want farmers to consider carefully their business decisions.”

Acting on Ghoulson’s advice, Stevens says the CFFO advocates setting aside some land for natural habitat, either a small woodlot, a buffer strip or a perennial grass crop.

“Farmers need to consider if there are actions they can factor into their business plans that work more harmoniously with the natural world they ultimately rely on for their livelihoods in the long-term.”


English: Spraying pesticide in California

English: Spraying pesticide in California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mark Wales will serve a third term as president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.

The Aylmer-area vegetable producer was re-elected at the organization’s 78th annual general meeting and convention in Toronto this week.

OFA delegates elected two vice presidents, Collingwood-area hay and sweet corn farmer Keith Currie and grain farmer Don McCabe of Inwood. Debra Pretty-Straathof, a garlic farmer with a dairy background from Arnprior is the fourth executive member.

“We had an engaging event with discussions from grassroots and political representatives that confirmed the issues and direction of our advocacy efforts for Ontario farmers are on the right path,” Wales said in a prepared statement.

The OFA board of directors is made up of 18 positions representing regions across Ontario, including the four executive positions.

English: A sign warning about pesticide exposure.

English: A sign warning about pesticide exposure. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Larry Davis retains his position as director for Brant, Norfolk and Haldimand.

The OFA is the largest general farm organization in Ontario, representing 37,000 farm families across the province.


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