More than $27,000 in fines handed out for Crop Rotation Act breaches

Colin MacLean
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Summerside courthouse. File photo

SUMMERSIDE – A Prince County farmer and a company were ordered Tuesday to pay fines for breaching the province’s Crop Rotation Act.

Avard Robert Smallman, 61, of O’Leary, was found guilty of one charge under the act and Urbainville Farms Ltd. of Wellington, also facing one charge, changed its plea to guilty.

Both parties had been charged with planting a regulated crop in the same field more than once in a three-year period. The act requires regulated crops to be planted on a three-year rotation in order to prevent soil degradation.

Smallman, who was originally charged in May of 2013, was ordered to pay a fine of $15,180, while Urbainville, charged in July of the same year, must pay $12,600 in fines.

Initially, Smallman fought his charge using a Charter of Rights application, claiming that Section 7.2 of the Act infringed on his rights because of "grammatical errors" and that it is "ambiguous, which makes it unconstitutionally vague or overly broad."

That application was dismissed in December of 2013 and his trial went ahead in January.

A third party, Sweet Farms Inc., which is also facing the same charge, was set over until April 15 for sentencing.

Charges under the Crop Rotation Act are relatively rare.

Wade MacKinnon, head of enforcement for the Department of Environment, Labour and Justice, said that his section does not have the resources to ensure complete compliance. However, if a complaint is issued or if there’s an environmental emergency, the department will investigate and has the option to lay charges or issue warnings.

MacKinnon also noted that he’s observed more awareness regarding the Act and environmental protection in general over the last couple of years.

“There’s been a big uptake in management plans, compliance and working within the legislation,” he said.

In 2013, the Department of Environment, Labour and Justice laid 162 charges and handed out 174 warnings under various environmental acts.

 

Organizations: Urbainville Farms Ltd. of Wellington, Department of Environment, Sweet Farms

Geographic location: Prince

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Recent comments

  • Stewart Smith
    April 08, 2014 - 21:37

    These people are breaking the law simply to make money at our expense, and at the expense of the environment. This is a good judgement, and should send a message that contaminating our environment for personal profit is not acceptable.

  • same story
    April 08, 2014 - 20:41

    Farmers really care about the land . This proves it . We should go ahead and let them have the deep water wells because they are great care takers of the land . Those crop rotations and silly anyway . Nothing wrong with the old way of potatoes , snow , rain and then potatoes . It is also a good way of getting rid of those pesky fish.

  • Observer
    April 08, 2014 - 20:13

    A few years ago I had some agricultural property for rent. One farmer interested in the property told me that the gov't couldn't stop him from planting what he wanted, whenever he wanted. He said crop rotation was stupid, blah, blah, blah. We did not sign a deal...