OFA Commentary: August 28, 2015

OFA continues work on a complete pollinator health strategy 

By Don McCabe, President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

With regulations now in place limiting the use of neonics on corn and soybean crops in Ontario, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture has continued to hold fast on an important task. We are committed to working closely with government and industry to achieve a comprehensive pollinator strategy that includes all considerations for improving pollinator health.

This past Tuesday, a Pollinator Health Action Plan Forum was organized by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). The OFA was there to assist in constructing a comprehensive pollinator health strategy to encompass managed bees and wild pollinators in all of Ontario.

Other ministries included in the participants were the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, Ministry of Transportation and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.  Roughly 30 groups in total made up of other farm organizations, academic institutions, and NGOs began facilitated discussions about the actions needed to improve pollinator health in Ontario.

Following a presentation from Dr. Nigel Raine, Pollinator Conservation Chair at the University of Guelph on current pollinator research and health issues, Kelly McAslan from OMAFRA gave a description of the broad elements in Ontario’s Pollinator Health Strategy. The three areas of the strategy include a Pollinator Health Action Plan, Financial Assistance to Beekeepers and the new regulation under the Pesticides Act that apply to neonicotinoid treated corn and soybean seeds.

From the beginning of the pollinator health discussions, OFA has been at the table and pushed for a comprehensive strategy that considers the full list of nine key stressors that have been identified as playing a role in pollinator health – bee genetics, habitat loss, nutrition, disease and predators, climate change and impact of weather, and exposure to pesticides used in hive management and in crop production. These stressors were the centre point of our initial submission to government on its Pollinator Health discussion paper submitted in May 2015.

OMAFRA will lead the development of the Pollinator Health Action Plan. This action plan will encompass habitat and nutrition, diseases, pests and genetics, climate change and weather, and pesticide exposure. The forum allowed the participants to comment directly on the first three of the four areas just mentioned to begin the consultation on these areas.

The forum also served as an opportunity to learn about current government programs in place, and to network with possible partners to strengthen the outcome of the future plan.  The need for clear communication on the issues was evident. Minister Leal brought remarks to close the forum and was clear on his mandate to deliver on a comprehensive strategy.

The OFA will continue to advocate for and represent the interests of our members who represent a broad swath of Ontario agriculture. We won’t consider our work to be complete until there is a comprehensive strategy in place to address pollinator health that works for all farmers in the province.




For more information, contact:

Don McCabe


Ontario Federation of Agriculture


Neil Currie
General Manager
Ontario Federation of Agriculture

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