The city of Montreal recently announced that it intends to ban the sale and use of many pesticides on its territory. Among the exceptions provided for in its by-law, the Montreal Zone and agricultural activities should be excluded (as are golf courses). Here are the main reasons.
First, because Quebec government regulations on the use of pesticides in agriculture are already one of the most serious in Canada. There are agricultural activities everywhere in Quebec that allow weather activities. Our agriculture is as diverse as any other region. There are more than 28,000 farms spread across Quebec, most of which belong to the family.
Local farmers are sensitive to citizens ’concerns about the use of pesticides. Farming practices are diverse to limit their use and organic production is thriving. Currently, there are many alternatives to pesticides, but in all cases it is not yet allowed to ban their use. Research can help get there.
Sustainable Agriculture Plan 2020-2030
The Quebec government approved the Sustainable Agriculture Plan 2020-2030 last fall. This initiative, based on three principles, was welcomed by the population and producers: support for producers who promote good agro-environmental practices; Improve the professional assistance provided to farmers; Invest in research to provide viable solutions to replace pesticides.
The fight against crop pests, all products combined, is complex, especially as climate change adds to this complexity. However, the signs are encouraging. The supply of organic pesticides is increasing and these products are being used more and more. Sales of neonicotinoids and prescription pesticides are declining. The pressure index (the amount of pesticides sold per hectare) has been steadily declining for almost a decade.
Then, there were more than 1000 municipalities in Quebec. If everyone had their own regulations on the use of pesticides in agriculture, it would simply be unmanageable and inefficient. Do they have the resources to enforce their terms? The city of Laval, like one hundred Quebec municipalities, has also adopted a law to regulate the use of pesticides on its territory. But, it excludes area and agricultural activities from its regulations.
Let’s be practical. In the short term, any ban on pesticides in agriculture will not be resolved unless we import more food from countries with less stringent rules than ours or from other Canadian provinces. Boundaries are not closed. At a time when we are all concerned about our food autonomy, it makes no sense. The real solution is research, training and support for producers.
The United States and Europe have invested more in the agricultural climate than Canada. The current election campaign should promote the positions of every political structure with a focus on green agriculture. To respond to this important issue for the population, the UPA is proposing the establishment of a new program (Agri-Wert) in support of agrarian climate change.
We all want to reduce our agriculture dependence on pesticides, but multiplication by municipal farming regulations is not the solution. This problem extends beyond each of them.
Marcel Groliu, General President, Union des Producers Agriculture