Provincial groups hold forum on pollinator health

On Aug. 25, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) organized a Pollinator Health Action Plan Forum in Guelph to allow numerous stakeholders in the fields affected by bees and pollination to take part in discussions about the actions needed to improve pollinator health in Ontario.
Among the roughly 30 groups present were the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, Ministry of Transportation and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, as well as academic institutions and NGOs.
In a statement Monday, OFA president Don McCabe said the organization was at the forum “to assist in constructing a comprehensive pollinator health strategy to encompass managed bees and wild pollinators in all of Ontario.”
“With regulations now in place limiting the use of [neonicotinoid insecticides] on corn and soybean crops in Ontario, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture has continued to hold fast on an important task,” he said in the statement. “We are committed to working closely with government and industry to achieve a comprehensive pollinator strategy that includes all considerations for improving pollinator health.”
The forum comes as more research has been released, such as a recent article in the journal Nature on bee colony losses in the UK, linking pesticide use to declines in bee populations. Other research from the Netherlands suggests that a constant diet of neonics is making bees more vulnerable to mites and other stressors. These issues were described in a presentation by Dr. Nigel Raine, Pollinator Conservation Chair at the University of Guelph on current pollinator research and health issues. After his presentation, Kelly McAslan from OMAFRA gave a description of some of the 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,” McCabe said.
Upcoming events:
Sept. 15-17 – Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show is scheduled later this month, set to take place at Canada’s Outdoor Park, located at 744906 Oxford Rd 17 near Woodstock. The show “offers one stop shopping for farmers and highlights the most innovative and technologically advanced agricultural products and services available.” The show runs 8:30 am to 5:00 pm each day. Admission is $17 for adults, $5 for youths aged six to 17, and free for children under six. Parking is free. For more information and a site map, visit OutdoorFarmShow.com.
Sept. 30 – The Canadian Federation of Agriculture will be hosting a National Agriculture Leaders debate at the Chateau Laurier Hotel in Ottawa from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm. The debate will highlight issues facing Canadian farmers and give an opportunity for each party to outline its platform positions as they pertain to Canada’s farm and food future. Participants include Gerry Rotz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, NDP Agriculture Critic Malcolm Allen, Liberal Agriculture Critic Mark Eyking, Green Party Deputy Leader Bruce Hyer,and a representative from the Bloq Québécois. Register to view the debate online by visiting CFA-FCA.ca and clicking the “Election 2015″ tab.