Crop Rotation Act upheld from charter application

Colin MacLean
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SUMMERISDE – Prince Edward Island’s Crop Rotation Act has survived a court challenge. 

Summerside courthouse. File photo

Judge Jeff Lantz recently rejected a Charter of Rights application filed against the piece of legislation.

Knutsford famer Avard Smallman, 63, and his company, Sweet Farms Inc., are both facing charges under the act. Smallman had filed the charter application earlier this fall.

A charter application can be made when a person who has been accused of breaking the law believes their rights have been violated in some way.

According to the summery of the case read in court by Lantz, Smallman had alleged 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.”

Section 7.2, states that “no grower shall plant and no landowner shall permit regulated crops to be planted on any area of land greater than 1.0 hectares at any time for more than one calendar year in any three consecutive calendar years.”

Smallman argued that the wording of the act leaves it open to the interpretation that absolutely no regulated crops can be planted on the same parcel of land within three years.

Lantz disagreed, calling the suggestion “absurd.”

However, he prefaced that by adding, “I admit that (the act) could have been better drafted, however, in reading this particular section, its ordinary meaning is apparent to me.”

That “ordinary meaning” being that no regulated crop (like potatoes or corn) can be planted more than once on the same parcel of land within three years.

Lantz also said his duty was to consider the context and intention of the act itself, not just what one specific sentence might say.

“When you look at this section in the context of these factors, there is no doubt as to its meaning,” he said.

Smallman and Sweet Farms Inc. will be back in court on Dec. 30 for a status update. 

Organizations: Smallman and Sweet Farms

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island

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  • UPWESTER
    December 28, 2013 - 10:55

    Smallman argued that the wording of the act leaves it open to the interpretation that absolutely no regulated crops can be planted on the same parcel of land within three years. If that is how he reads it, then why did he plant regulated crops 2 years in a row?

  • don
    December 27, 2013 - 16:35

    Judge Jeff Lantz. I agree with you fully the wording is plain and anyone that can not understand it needs to go back to school. and a man of 63 should know better unless he just started farming with in the few weeks. I am not a farmer but I know you do not plant crops twice in a row. glad to hear you did not allow his phoney idea.