The monthly Farm net column looks at Island farmers who know the importance of responsible pesticide use.
Don Godfrey and his son, Michael, know a lot about farming and good stewardship practices. The family farm grows 1,400 acres of crops which are spread throughout their properties in Cornwall and Meadow Bank. They grow seed and table potatoes, grain, soybeans, hay and silage. They also have a cowcalf herd and a small feed lot, primarily of Simmental cattle.
The Godfreys, like all farmers on P.E.I., have to protect their crops from insects, weeds, fungus and a variety of other pests such as slugs and rodents that can cause significant damage. Pesticides are used by both organic and conventional farmers to combat these pests. Organic farmers use organic-approved pesticides that are derived from a natural source. Conventional farmers use natural-based pesticides as well as synthetic pesticides.
The toxicity of organic and conventional pesticides is very similar and both undergo the same rigorous testing before being approved for use on food crops. All pesticides are regulated by Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA.)
On average it takes 10 years and $250 million to take a pesticide from idea to market. Pesticides are one of the most stringently regulated products in Canada. Farmers like Don and Michael, as well as the public, rely on this process to help them produce safe food at an economical price.
The PMRA mandates that over 200 tests are completed before products are registered. These tests are designed to ensure that the final products will not pose health or environmental concerns. Once a product is registered it is reevaluated by PMRA at least every 15 years.
Before Prince Edward Island farmers can use any pesticides they are required pass an exam in order to become certified to purchase and use pesticides. They learn about pest management techniques, preventing pest resistance, how to protect the environment and avoid health risks. They also learn about proper storage practices, maintenance of application equipment and the importance of record-keeping. To keep current, they must be re-certified every five years. In addition, there are a number of laws that farmers must follow in order to apply pesticides.
Don and Michael Godfrey are typical Prince Edward Island family farmers who use modern methods to produce high quality food that is consumed here and abroad. Farmers care for the land and are true environmental stewards.
For information about pesticide use and regulation in Price Edward Island , go to www.gov. pe.ca/environment/