Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Golf is – sort of - Exempt

"Ontario's proposed ban on the sale and cosmetic use of pesticides will be the toughest such legislation in North America once it becomes law next year, supporters said Tuesday."

The full article from CBC.ca is found here:

Ontario's ban will likely take effect next spring, but there will be a few exceptions, McGuinty said. Pesticides will still be allowed for use in farming, forestry or health and safety, such as controlling mosquitoes that can carry diseases like the West Nile virus.

(I edited this with the actual statement made in the legislature)

An exception will also be made for golf courses; however, that exception would only be given if golf courses comply with the requirements set out in regulations that would be made if the legislation is enacted, through integrated pest management programs.

The golf courses will be legislated to participate in the Integrated Pest Management Program (IPM) run by the University of Guelph. If that is the case – this is a great solution. The problem is this is government – which is still susceptable to further lobbying before becoming legislation - and the ambiguous nature of this statement leaves you with doubt.

The other issue is Golf Courses may be exempt – but there is no guarantees that the pesticides they use today will be available come next year - they are two sepperate issues. This is a long way from being over – but at least golf is recognized as an industry that can not be immediately legislated to go pesticide free.

I think reducing the use of pesticides is very important to all of us. But I fear the lobbist don't fully understand the implications of eliminating pesticides. For example, my family ran an apple orchard for a few years. If you don't spray on a regular basis, you get apple scab. In my opinion apple scab does nothing to the quality of the fruit or the taste - but people won't buy an apple with scab because it doesn't look right.

I think we need to make sure we understand what we are doing rather than making a purely emotional decision.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Ontario to Ban Pesticides

Snow Mold

“Ontario's Liberal government will introduce legislation tomorrow to implement a province wide ban on the cosmetic use of pesticides, keeping one of their key election promises from last year.”

The article from The Star: http://www.thestar.com/News/Ontario/article/416766

The province wide ban is aimed at replacing a patchwork of local pesticide bylaws, but Ontario farmers will be exempt. There's no word yet if the province also plans to exempt golf courses from the ban.

I want to repeat this part: There's no word yet if the province also plans to exempt golf courses from the ban.”

My understanding is the golf courses will be exempt – that’s always been assumed and discussed - but reading this line and knowing the implications scares the hell out of all of us in golf industry. For perspective: Pesticide is a blanket name for herbicide, insecticide and fungicide. In a presentation by Doctor Grant from Cornell this winter – where she talked about the idea of reducing or eliminating pesticides - she said that North-Eastern golf courses don’t stand a chance against snow mold if there is not available product used to protect the turf through the winter. While there was a whole host of ways that we would end up with dead turf, the simplest being snow mold, may become the most devastating if we are not allowed minimal treatment.

"We always said it was a priority when we came out with our platform last year, and it's had tremendous support around the province from what we've received as far as the environmental registry is concerned," Gerretsen said. "Ninety per cent of the people that responded to it responded in a favourable way."

The article talks about a 90% support – but the question comes do even 90% understand the implications of making this a reality. This is where everyone in the field is frustrated – since farming will continue to be exempt when potentially golf is not. So its OK to spray the food that we eat, but not the grass that we walk on – in shoes.

As one superintendent said to me recently – even if we are exempt now – doesn’t mean we should expect to be exempt in 10 years. The lobby has just had one a huge victory – and this will encourage them on towards achieving their eventual goal of a complete ban on all pesticides.

If your a golfer and your not worried - you should be!