Wingham, Ont. area farmer could lose organic certification over errant aerial spray
Tamara McMullen says she has already lost business after an aerial spray from a neighbouring farm potentially impacted her organic operation.
“I’ve had individuals who had paid for a season’s worth of vegetables ask for a refund, and others who are holding off eating from our farm until they can have more information. I don’t know when I’ll have that information,” says McMullen.
Provincial staff have already been out to test the fields at Firmly Rooted Farm near Wingham, after a plane sprayed an insecticide on a neighbouring corn field on Aug. 3.
McMullen says the drift has affected her farm, and her employees, who were in the field when the plane was spraying.
“I had individuals affected directly. They had skin rashes, some of them. Other had allergy attacks and severe headaches. The people who work on my farm, should be safe when they are here,” she says.
McMullen is awaiting provincial tests to see if indeed her organic farm was contaminated by the insecticide, if so, it would have a catastrophic effect on her operation.
“Certification is super important to us, and we could lose it for a portion of our farm, if not the entire farm, for up to three years,” she says.
A similar aerial spraying misadventure happened over Andrew Masse’s farm near Bayfield in early August. His farm, directly sprayed, he believes, by an airplane spraying a neighbouring farm.
“I thought we were beyond this. I would hope something could be done. Regulations could be changed or something to stop this from happening,” he says.
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture recently issued a press release about the aerial spraying of pesticides in the province.
They say, “In Ontario, aerial spraying is highly regulated. Commercial applicants must be licensed and insured, and must operate in accordance with provincial and federal regulations regarding aerial applications of all pesticide products. Label conditions exist for aerial spraying to mitigate any risks to human and environmental health.”
McMullen says she understands that many conventional farms spray their crops, but believes there must be some protection for those neighbouring farmers and property owners.
“I’m pursuing legal action because I don’t want this to happen to us again, but also to others,” she says.
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