To the Editor:
We are writing on behalf of the Prairie Oat Growers Association members regarding the recent decision by Richardson Pioneer that they will be concentrating on sourcing Canadian oats that have not been treated with pesticides applied as a pre-harvest aid. They have indicated that this decision is due to perceived customer concern and that to meet these requirements, Richardson has chosen to source oats that are not treated with a pre-harvest desiccant for its milling operation.
While we understand this is a business decision, POGA is extremely disappointed that customer demand is being driven by information that is not science based.
It has been stated that this decision is primarily focused on the use of glyphosate. Glyphosate has been subject to rigorous international scientific reviews and has been re-evaluated multiple times. Health Canada expressed strong confidence about the scientific basis for its approval of glyphosate, stating that it “left no stone unturned” in the review.
Canadian oat growers consistently produce high-quality, safe food in a sustainable way, and this would not be possible without crop input products like glyphosate, which is commonly used to effectively control grass weeds prior to planting or after oats are harvested.
The use of glyphosate and other inputs reduces disease, natural contaminates and greenhouse emissions and increases organic matter and improves soil health.
Farmers are working to uphold Canada’s global reputation for quality and safety. POGA is a supporter of the Keep It Clean program that provides information producers need to deliver crops that meet the requirements of domestic and export customers.
Glyphosate is an important tool in global food production. Loss of another tool that has been scientifically proven to be safe and effective will impact seeded acres. In many areas, producers will decrease production if oat buyers do not adjust prices to offset the production risk.
Canadian farmers are increasingly forced to absorb more and more costs, impacting profitability and viability. At the same time, governments are pushing producers to boost production and increase exports.
A farm is a business that must follow sound economic principles to remain viable. Per acre rate of return is a guiding principle that affects the producer and the consumer. A lower per acre return means less oat acres and less supply means buyers have to pay more for the oats, and those increases are passed onto the consumer.
POGA is urging all farmers to let your provincial and federal elected members and officials know that this is an issue that impacts all producers. We continue to be driven by decisions that are not science-based and are simply based on public opinion and lack of knowledge and understanding. As an industry, we must continue to let the public and decision makers know that farmers are responsible stewards of the land. We follow label directions.
The production tools used in agriculture help grow safe and healthy crops to feed the world and protect the environment. By eliminating critical management practices and increasing the cost of production, we will continue to lose farmers and market share.
Producers need to be heard because what production tool will be the next target of perception rather than science-based facts?