Letters to the editor – January 14, 2016

Best practices on MRLs

The letter “Thoughts on MRLs” (WP, Dec. 17), written by a consultant who has worked for the company behind Clever, suggests a collaborative, science-based approach to handling MRL complexities. This is the approach life science companies, farmers, grain exporters and processors take through their membership in the Canola Council of Canada.

The CCC works actively throughout the canola value chain to monitor potential pesticide residue risks in major export markets, participates in co-operative dialogue with registrants about responsible commercialization, promotes the establishment of specific MRLs where possible and informs growers of best practices to mitigate pesticide residue risk through the Keep it Clean program.

The council is also engaged in industry-wide efforts to improve the regulatory environment so that the establishment of MRLs is more synchronized across countries. Views of canola growers, processors, life science companies and exporters are vigorously represented throughout all of these efforts.

The letter incorrectly communicates the risk faced by the industry by stating that “…only a small fraction of canola acreage was treated with quinclorac…” and that when treated acres are mixed with the other “…95 percent of the acreage…” it is unlikely that residues would be detected. Treated crop is not mixed with the entire canola crop. Product is applied in regions where cleavers are prevalent, meaning there tends to be concentrated areas where residues can indeed be detected.

The author encourages grain companies to use sound science and test for quinclorac residues. Of course companies have had to take additional steps to test and where residue is found, segregate the crop.

While Canada has set an MRL for quinclorac, it is the customer’s standards that must be respected. When product is sold to farmers before MRLs are obtained in key markets, without the knowledge and agreement of the value chain, risk is directly and unilaterally transferred to farmers, exporters and processors. This is not a collaborative approach.

As noted in the article “Farmers must manage MRLs to avoid confusion” (WP, Dec. 17) the world of MRLs is becoming more complex, with testing becoming more and more precise as new technology can detect levels of one part per billion, which is equivalent to about nine seeds in a super-B truck.

If a shipment is turned back because of unacceptable residues, it could result in millions of dollars of lost farm revenue and could damage Canada’s reputation for consistency and quality. With 90 percent of our canola bound for export markets, it’s essential that our entire industry work together to meet the standards of international customers.

On behalf of the farmers, exporters, processors and life science companies of the Canola Council of Canada, I would encourage any company bringing forward a new pest management product to contact the CCC. Together we can find a path forward that meets the needs of all links in the value chain.

Patti Miller,
President,
Canola Council of Canada
Winnipeg, Man.

Questions on Bill 6

I am a third generation Alberta farmer. As such I have been raised and have raised my children on the farm. Regarding Bill 6 I have a few questions that don’t seem to have answers.

Is Bill 6 a farm safety bill as Alberta premier Rachel Notley has repeatedly said? Then why is she exempting certain groups? Does that mean the people the bill covers aren’t as safe as the ones who are exempt? Does she really care about farm safety or this really a union bill?

Why is her government picking winners and losers? If this bill is about safety of the worker, does it matter by which insurance provider they are protected? Can the employer and the employee sit down together and decide which insurance provider works the best for them?

Notley repeatedly ask us, the farming community, to trust her government to get the details right after she passes Bill 6. Is trust not earned and not legislated? Would she buy a house or an automobile or even food without first checking the label or the contract? Why would we want to accept this bill without first seeing the details?

What is the rush? Why did Bill 6 need to be rushed through this legislature in such a short time without all of the details being worked out?

Part of this bill deals with occupational health and safety. All farms are a network of people who share a bond. Everyone is as family. And generally the whole operation revolves around a central location, a home. A farm is not like other businesses where the home is a separate entity. Also, does Notley think a stop-work order would be beneficial during time-sensitive work like harvest or feeding livestock?

She said there is a need for this bill in order to make farms safer. Why then is there no statistical difference between incidents in Alberta and the rest of Canada? Is it maybe rules are not the answer? It all comes down to an individual’s choice?

There are a lot of safety rules for the roads and the drivers in this country, yet people keep dying in traffic accidents. Why? Because rules don’t make it any safer. It is education and smart choices that makes the difference.

If family farms are exempt, does that include any small farm that is incorporated with no employees?

Hopefully Notley can answer these and countless other questions around Bill 6.

Randy Lotholz
Lotholz Farms Ltd
Barrhead, Alta.

Act on climate change

Nearly 200 countries have pledged to slow global warming by reducing emissions; some say that merely signing the pact isn’t enough!

I have no issue with Manitoba’s new emission targets, but would question whether the government can follow through on it, considering its’ previous failures.

Kyoto pledge can’t be kept, province says. NDP admits failure for first time. Conservation Minister, Dave Chomiak says, There are few places to register ‘big cuts’. (Winnipeg Free Press, 12 June, 2011.)

The province is planning on using huge, two cell lagoons for storage of hog feces to satisfy the requirements of producers who raise hogs in a factory type environment — intensive livestock operations. The addition of even more lagoons to the already polluted landscape of Manitoba will only amplify the situation of greenhouse gases and provide no benefit towards reducing emission targets.

It’s time to step out of the box and rethink a better method of raising hogs in Manitoba and also help the reduction of GHG at the same time.

Cutting emissions has to be more than an act of faith.

John Fefchak
Virden, Man.

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