Provinces Urge Federal Agency To Reconsider Pesticide Decision

The federal Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) is being urged by the governments of Alberta and Saskatchewan to reconsider its recent decision regarding a crucial insecticide for farmers. Lambda-cyhalothrin, a highly effective pesticide that many farmers rely on to control grasshoppers and flea beetles, has had its approved uses changed by the PMRA.

This decision leaves farmers with one less tool to address potentially destructive pests, which could be a significant concern in the 2023 growing season due to continued drought in some parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan. Furthermore, canola producers may no longer be able to sell their products as livestock feed, potentially impacting availability for cattle and lamb producers, as well as total food production in a time of global food insecurity.

Alberta Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation Nate Horner has stated that “this decision could set many [farmers] back,” and he urges the PMRA to reconsider its decision and make it easier for Alberta’s farmers to feed people in Canada and across the world. Similarly, Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister David Marit has voiced his concern about the decision, stating that Saskatchewan producers are at risk of facing significant losses and being placed at a competitive disadvantage. Both ministers have written to Health Canada and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, outlining producers’ concerns and urging them to encourage the PMRA to reconsider.

Lambda-cyhalothrin has a significant market share, and its removal could strain farmers to source alternative products, as noted by Alberta Canola Chair Roger Chevraux and SaskCanola Chair Keith Fournier. With extreme flea beetle pressure, hotspots for grasshoppers, and forecasted outbreaks across the prairies, the PMRA’s decision could severely impact yields, livelihoods, feedstocks, and food prices.

“The PMRA needs to base its decisions on sound science and align with our largest trading partner, according to the Alberta and Saskatchewan agriculture chairs,” shared Alberta Canola Chair Roger Chevraux and SaskCanola Chair Keith Fournier.

The United States’ Environmental Protection Agency removed restrictions on lambda-cyhalothrin’s use in 2019, while the PMRA made the opposite decision, leading to confusion about livestock feed coming in from our largest trading partner. To ensure western farmers have an effective solution for the coming growing season, an emergency reinstatement of the product’s use would need to be enacted immediately by the PMRA, which would also give the agency time to make a more informed decision.

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