March 7th, 2014

The Standing Committee On Agriculture and Environment meeting yesterday regarding high capacity wells meeting was full, which as you know makes an impression.

Today I’ll focus on the presentation by one of the five groups: the National Farmers Union, with the admirable Edith Ling presenting the brief.    Reg Phalen and Steven MacKinnon were with her to ably answer questions.

They hit all the points of concern regarding lifting the moratorium and focused on the farmer in all this, reminding the members that not all farmers want the moratorium lifted, but neither should farmers, especially potato farmers, be vilified.  They are concerned about nitrates and groundwater, as even if, as the argument could be made, that more water one year would mean that year’s fertilizer better utilized, there is still plenty of nitrate and contaminants that will be dissolved in the water and taken down to the water table with it.

Their recommendations to the committee include that the government:

  • “steadfastly maintain” the moratorium on new high capacity wells
  •  recognize and value ALL farming,
  •  promote mixed farming to transition from to protect and improve Island soil and water
  • develop a true water protection policy, including preparing for climate change
  • create a commission on water to involve all Islanders

The last echoes how effectively Horace Carver visited and listened to Islanders (and about whose work I am skipping discussing today).

MLA Buck Watts mentioned he thought these meetings were a form of public consultation, and I hope by the answers he understands yes, but there needs to be more to really say the Legislators consulted with the public.

(MLA Kathleen was quite focused on how many members are in the NFU.  When not given a specific number, she persisted and even asked other presenters if they knew.)
Compass, lead story
http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/PEI/ID/2440628638/

Some events coming up (not complete in the least):

Events:

Tuesday, March 11, 7PM
Pesticide Free PEI Meeting, Sobey’s in Stratford
https://www.facebook.com/events/514006368719528/

Thursday, March 13th, 1-5PM
High Capacity Wells presentation, Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry, Coles Building
Presenters (I think) include Todd Dupois of the Atlantic Salmon Federation, the Council of Canadians, The Cooper Institute, and the NDP-PEI.

Also, on Thursday:

PEI ADAPT Council AGM/Conference
“Celebrating the International Year of the Family Farm”
AGM 9AM, Conference: 10:30AM
Farm Centre, 420 University Avenue Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
10:30 Conference Welcome: Elmer MacDonald, Chair, PEI ADAPT Council
Presentations from Family Farmers
Matt Dykerman, Rose and Dave Viaene, Don and Christine MacDonald, Alexander Beattie
Questions and Audience Discussion

ADAPT Project Leader Presentations
Farm Centre – Future of the Farm Centre & 2014 Legacy Garden Project
International Sustainable Communities – Roster of Skills
Organic Beet Production and Mkt Opportunities

Potato Marketing by Usage & Wireworm Control , PEI Potato Board
Questions and Audience Discussion

Report on PEI Agriculture Trade Mission to Taiwan – Issues and Opportunities
Phil Ferraro, Executive Director PEI ADAPT, PEI Agr. Trade Team Member

Project Trade Show and Nutrition Break
• GEC – DON Wheat and Future Mkt Opportunities
• Sea Spray Coop – Pickling/Fermentation,
• Fed of Agr/CMEG – Temporary Foreign Workers,
• Hort Assn. – Ethnic Veg Mkts., Club Root Resistance in Broccoli Varieties,
• Hometown Pork – Pork Value Chain,
• Soil Foodweb – Compost Tea as Fungicide, Storecast, Biochar Field Trails,
• Soil and Crop Improvement Assn. – Sea Lettuce Compost,
• Island Forest Foods – Diversified Permaculture Orchard,
• PEI Dairy Farmers – Bovine Leucosis and Johnnies Disease,
• PEI Brewing Company – Malt Barley Value Chain,
• PEI Cranberry Growers – Powder Cranberry Marketing,
• Omega Holdings – Safe Quality Food Planning,
• Certified Organic Producers Coop – Organic Products Field Trials,
• PEI Sheep Breeders – Genetic Enhancement,

Lunch with Keynote Speaker (12:30 – 1:30 pm.)
Reg Porter, ‘Historical Perspectives of Island Family Farming’

Project Trade Show 1:30 – 2PM

CONFERENCE REGISTRATION IS FREE and open to anyone with an interest in the future of agriculture and agri-food production on Prince Edward Island. Pre-registration is necessary as space is limited. To register call: 368-2005 or email:phil@peiadapt.com

Friday, March 14th

A short conference entitled “My Island, My Heart” will take place March
14, 1:00-3:00 pm, at UPEI’s Chaplaincy Centre. The conference, led by UPEI
arts student Faith Robinson, focuses on three themes—island fragility,
island sustainability, and island community.

Special guest speakers include: Deirdre Kessler, writer and UPEI professor;
Laurie Brinklow, accomplished poet and UPEI professor; and Millefiore
Clarkes, filmmaker to name a few. A short docu-film Island Green, about
organic farming on PEI, will also be featured as part of the conference.

Today, it is more important than ever to realize the limitations and
magnificence of our environment, so keenly felt by Islanders worldwide. It is
crucial that we not forget the roots from which we ourselves grow, to
envision a better future.

For more information on the conference, contact Faith Robinson at
frobinson@upei.ca. Admission is free, and snacks and beverages will be
provided. All are welcome to attend.

(Also note that) Saturday, March 22ndIsland Green screening, 7:30PM, Bonshaw

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Members of the Coalition

Members of the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water to-date include:

Citizens’ Alliance of PEI

Atlantic Canada Chapter of Sierra Club

Cascumpec Watershed Association

Cooper Institute

Cornwall & Area Watershed Group

Council of Canadians

Don’t Frack PEI

Ellen’s Creek Watershed Group

Environmental Coalition of PEI

Friends of Covehead-Brackley Bay Watershed

Green Party PEI

Hunter-Clyde Watershed Group

National Farmers Union, District 1, Region 1

New Democratic Party of PEI

Pesticide Free PEI

Save Our Seas and Shores PEI

South Shore Watershed Association  (Tryon River, Westmoreland River, DeSable River, Augustine Cove and Cape Traverse, and Seven Mile Bay Watershed Associations)

Winter River – Tracadie Bay Watershed Assoc.

Over 200 individual members

press conference with Maude Barlow, the Council of Canadians, and the CoalitionAnd the statement that will be read by Boyd Allen today at the press conference from the Coalition (with thanks for sharing that):

By mid-January, 2014, PEI residents had some time to examine the proposal to lift the moratorium on high capacity irrigation wells brought forward to Government by the processing industry and the PEI Potato Board. This became the catalyst for a groundswell of thoughtful and informed opinions which flooded an array of media across the island.

The Citizens’ Alliance of PEI sent out invitations island-wide to engage people and organizations to meet and address this issue. From this, and subsequent meetings, The Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water emerged. Our organization is composed of concerned citizens and includes The Citizens’ Alliance of PEI, the PEI Watershed Alliance, Pesticide PEI, District 1, Region 1 of the National Farmers Union, Green Party of PEI, Environmental Coalition of PEI, Don’t Frack PEI, Cooper Institute, Several Watershed Groups, Council of Canadians, New Democratic Party of PEI, Sierra Club PEI, Save Our Seas and Shores. Among the coalition members are a number of physical, natural, and social scientists. The aim of this community-based organization is to share resources, skills and time to offer an informed, unified public voice in a process in which this voice traditionally has limited access.

The Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water strongly opposes any lifting of the moratorium on new high capacity irrigation wells.

We feel that the monitoring and enforcement component attached to the existing high capacity wells is inadequate.

We feel that the data compiled to support the lifting of the moratorium is incomplete.

We recommend an opportunity for peer review of the water extraction policy, the data and the models used to support it.

We recommend the establishment and funding of a transparent, inclusive public consultation process to examine all aspects of this policy.

We recommend the establishment of a multi-disciplinary commission to develop a comprehensive, integrated water policy for PEI.

The Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water will be presenting our position on maintaining the moratorium on high capacity wells to the standing Committee of Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry 1:30 pm tomorrow, Thursday 26 February at the Coles Building.