Ontario preparing bee loss compensation

Application packages are expected to be available late next week for Ontario beekeepers to seek compensation for the past year’s “higher than normal” bee colony death losses.

Before Friday’s loss of a confidence motion in the legislature, which sends Ontario voters to the polls June 12, the provincial government on Wednesday announced “one-time financial assistance” to be delivered through Agricorp, to compensate for losses due to “harsh winter conditions this year and other pollinator health issues.”

The province’s move, according to the Ontario Beekeepers Association, will make Ontario “the first province to compensate beekeepers for losses likely caused by pesticides as well as other causes.”

Forms will be available to beekeepers by May 16, the province said.

The package announced Wednesday would provide $105 per hive to eligible beekeepers who have 10 hives or more registered with the provincial apiarist, and who lose over 40 per cent of their colonies between Jan. 1 and Oct. 31 this year.

Payments would be issued in two instalments: the first in early summer, for winter losses, and a second in December for “any additional losses.”

Eligible beekeepers must report over a 40 per cent loss of bee hive inventory as set out in the 2014 certificate of registration issued by the provincial apiarist.

Applicants must sign an “attestation” that they’ve followed proper beekeeping practices and that the bee deaths in question “were not caused by wildlife damage, vandalism, intentional death or negligence.”

Applicant beekeepers must also have an Agricorp identification number and Premises Identification Number.

“Significantly less”

“While the compensation plan doesn’t solve the problem, it will help mitigate losses that Ontario beekeepers have suffered from the harsh winter and the inappropriate use of neonicotinoid pesticides,” Dan Davidson, president of the Ontario Beekeepers Association, said in the province’s release.

The association, he said, looks forward to “working together to expedite a sustainable solution that addresses current threats to bee health.”

In a separate association memo, Davidson said the group “has been advocating for over a year for beekeeper compensation related to extraordinary bee deaths.”

The amount the province will pay per hive is “significantly less than we were proposing,” he said, but added it “shows awareness of the hardships many Ontario beekeepers are experiencing.”

Ontario today has about 3,000 registered beekeepers managing about 100,000 honey bee colonies. Beekeepers representing over 90 per cent of the hives in Ontario, and the majority of pollination services offered by the industry, will benefit from the program, the province said.

The Ontario ag ministry said it’s also “exploring options to provide bee mortality insurance over the longer term.”

In the meantime, the province said, beekeepers can continue to access such programs as AgriStability, AgriInvest and the Self-Directed Risk Management Program for support, and are “encouraged to contact Agricorp to explore their options.” –– AGCanada.com Network


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