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.

Colin.MacLean@JournalPMacLean.com

@JournalPMacLean

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

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Recent comments

  • Why Bother
    April 08, 2014 - 20:19

    What exactly is a crop rotation act? What difference does it really make? If someone plants a carrot in their garden two years in a row, does that make them guilty? Better fine them for producing food. What a waste of the court's time and tax payers money.

    • ThatGuy
      April 09, 2014 - 12:23

      It prevents the soil from being totally drained of certain nutrients which occurs when growing the same crop over and over. It can take many years for the soil to recover, rendering it virtually useless for that time. I don't see that protecting PEIs agriculture is a waste of MY tax money. Also I think we both know that planting a small vegetable garden is in no way comparable to intense agriculture. I cook for my family in my kitchen, should it be inspected the same way a large restaurant kitchen?

  • WRONG APPROACH
    April 08, 2014 - 15:18

    These people are not doing it the PEI way. You have to keep getting your case delayed until everyone forgets about the charges. There are some pros in the area that can teach you.

    • What a joke
      April 08, 2014 - 18:21

      And if you poison the water and kill everything in the brook from runoff for not having the correct buffer zones around you field you get a slap on the wrist or a big government grant. If your ever charged