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

Colin MacLean
Published on April 8, 2014

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.