Released on February 24, 2023
The governments of Alberta and Saskatchewan are urging the federal Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) to reconsider its decision on a crucial insecticide for farmers.
The PMRA recently changed approved uses for lambda-cyhalothrin, an effective pesticide that many farmers rely on to control grasshoppers and flea beetles.
Among other changes, it can no longer be used for any crop that may end up as livestock feed and as a result, its manufacturers have pulled their products from Western Canada.
Due to a continued drought in some parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan, grasshoppers are again likely to be a significant concern in the 2023 growing season, and the PMRA's decision leaves farmers with one fewer tool to address potentially destructive pests.
It could also mean the inability for canola producers to sell their products as livestock feed which could impact availability for cattle and lamb producers. It could also impact total food production in a time of world food insecurity.
"At a time when our farmers are finally finding their footing after a rough couple of years, this decision could set many of them back," Alberta Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation Nate Horner said. "I urge the federal ministers and the PMRA to reconsider their decision and make it easier, not harder, for Alberta's farmers to feed people in Canada and across the world."
"Without access to effective insecticides, Saskatchewan producers are at risk of being placed at a competitive disadvantage and will be facing significant losses," Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister David Marit said. "Saskatchewan supports industry's calls for an extension to the lambda-cyhalothrin re-evaluation decision to alleviate pressure on producers and help ensure a stable supply of feed for livestock."
"With extreme flea beetle pressure, hotspots for grasshoppers and cutworms across the prairies and forecasted outbreaks, the lambda-cyhalothrin decision could severely impact our yields, our livelihoods, feedstocks and food prices," Alberta Canola Chair Roger Chevraux and SaskCanola Chair Keith Fournier said. "Lambda-cyhalothrin has a significant market share, and it will strain farmers to source alternative products. The PMRA needs to base its decisions on sound science and be aligned with our largest trading partner."
In 2019, the United States' Environmental Protection Agency removed restrictions on lambda-cyhalothrin's use. The PMRA made the opposite decision, which has led to confusion about what will be done about livestock feed coming in from our largest trading partner.
Minister Horner and Minister Marit have written to the ministers of Health Canada and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, outlining producers' concerns and urging them to encourage the PMRA to reconsider its decision.
The prairie provinces' farmers need a solution for the coming growing season. It is possible for the PMRA to enact an emergency reinstatement of the product's use to ensure our farmers can use it for the coming growing season and give it time to make a more informed decision, but we would need that immediately.
To ensure western farmers have an effective solution for the coming growing season, the PMRA would need to enact an emergency reinstatement immediately, which would also give the agency time to make a more informed decision.
For more information, contact:Jamie Shanks
Alberta Agriculture and Irrigation