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UPDATE: Farmer on P.E.I. fined in court for pesticide incident

FILE PHOTO: Potato farmer Alex Docherty leaves the P.E.I. Court of Appeal on Dec. 8, 2015.
FILE PHOTO: Potato farmer Alex Docherty leaves the P.E.I. Court of Appeal on Dec. 8, 2015.

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – A P.E.I. farmer was fined $1,000 Tuesday for spraying a pesticide without a licence in 2016.

Alex Docherty appeared before Chief Judge Nancy Orr in provincial court in Charlottetown for sentencing after he pleaded guilty to a violation of the Pesticides Control Act.

Several other charges against Docherty and his farm Skye View Farms were stayed.

The court heard the violation was discovered after an investigation into a July 2016 fish kill in the Clyde River.

Docherty and his farm weren’t charged in connection with the fish kill.

At the time, investigators obtained pesticide application records from neighbouring farms, which included Skye View Farms.

It was those records that showed Docherty sprayed a non-domestic pesticide on an agricultural crop while he didn’t have a licence.

Defence lawyer Brandon Forbes told the court Docherty was sharing the workload on the farm with his son in 2016 and had obtained a new sprayer.

Docherty’s son was trained to use the sprayer and was licensed with the intention that he would do the farm’s pesticide applications that year.

A neighbour then asked Docherty to spray Roundup on his cow corn, Forbes said.

Docherty saw it as an opportunity to learn how to use the new sprayer, Forbes said, but in doing so he applied the pesticide on June 22, 2016 without a licence because his had expired.

Forbes said Docherty’s son was watching over his father’s shoulder while he operated the sprayer and it wasn’t done in an attempt to cheat the system or for monetary gain.

“He did this to help his neighbour,” Forbes said.

In 2013, Orr found Docherty guilty of cultivating a crop on a slope that was too steep and she fined him $3,150.

Crown attorney Jeff MacDonald suggested a fine higher than that amount as a penalty for the pesticide violation.

Orr said the most recent offence was at the lower end of the scale and she fined Docherty the minimum of $1,000.

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