WHEREAS Fusarium Head Blight (Fusarium graminearum) is declared to be a pest under the Agricultural Pests Act; and
WHEREAS the presence of Fusarium graminearum has increased throughout the province in recent years; and
WHEREAS Alberta farmers are being denied access to newer varieties due to the non detectable level of Fusarium graminearum in the Agricultural Pests Act and it is becoming increasingly more difficult to find pedigreed seed that is non detectable for Fusarium graminearum; and
WHEREAS Alberta seed growers are finding it difficult to source higher generations of the newer varieties with improved Fusarium graminearum resistance, resorting to growing older varieties; which in turn does not facilitate the management of Fusarium graminearum; and
WHEREAS Alberta seed growers are at an economic disadvantage due to the non-detectable Fusarium graminearum category in the Agricultural Pests Act;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urge the Government of Alberta to proceed with the immediate review and opening of the Agricultural Pests Act and not wait until 2016; and
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the Government of Alberta amend section 2(1) of the Agricultural Pests Act to include the following categories of pests: Prohibited Pest, Pest; and Nuisance;
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED Fusarium graminearum be defined as a nuisance under the Pest and Nuisance Control Regulation of the Agriculture Pests Act; and add the ability to elevate and or de-elevate a pest/nuisance within a municipality.
Fusarium head blight (Fusarium graminearum) is a declared pest under the Agriculture Pests Act. Though Fusarium graminearum has been present at low levels since the late 1980’s, there have been increasing incidents in southern Alberta in recent years. In 2012, 27 of the 59 member seed cleaning plants which reported back to the Association of Alberta Co-op Seed Cleaning Plants found seed lots indicating Fusarium graminearum infection through the plate test method. These 27 plants are located throughout the province of Alberta excluding the Peace Region. With the increase in occurrence and infection across the province, the review and opening of the Agriculture Pests Act is required.
Where Fusarium graminearum is well established the weather is the most important factor influencing this disease. If the weather is conducive, Fusarium graminearum occurs resulting in yield loss, grade loss and quality loss, and produces chemicals known as mycotoxins as it is growing on and in infected plant tissue. Fusarium graminearum is a difficult disease to control. There are no chemicals that provide control just suppression at best. Producers are managing the risk to a certain extent, however the level and severity of Fusarium graminearum is largely dependent on the weather.
The Alberta Seed Growers’ Association passed a resolution at their 84th Annual General Meeting requesting correspondence be sent to the Minister of Agriculture, AAMDC, Agricultural Service Boards and the Fusarium Action Committee asking for a change to the policy on Fusarium graminearum in Alberta, away from non detectable levels.
The Association of Alberta Co-op Seed Cleaning Plants passed a motion at their 60th Annual General Meeting that they as an association give a directive to their board of directors formulating a Fusarium graminearum policy which allows the counties and MD’S of the province of Alberta to accept low levels of Fusarium graminearum infected seed to be used as seed insuring that is treated to reduce the levels of infection.”
The above resolution and motion provide clear direction for the Associations to move forward and support proposed changes to the Agriculture Pests Act. For areas that have Fusaruim graminearum already established it allows them to work with tolerance levels that are acceptable. In areas where Fusarium graminearum are rare, they may establish a policy to ensure seed being planted has been tested and found non detectable for Fusaruim graminearum.
Both associations will continue to encourage all seed growers to test all seed lots for the presence of Fusaruim graminearum, and will take the lead on ensuring proper communication and education on Fusarium graminearum with producers.
Municipalities would then be able to use Best Management Practises as they see fit. For areas that have Fusarium graminearum already established it will allow them to work with tolerance levels that are acceptable. In areas where Fusarium graminearum are rare, they will be able to establish a policy to ensure seed being planted has been tested and found non-detectable for Fusarium graminearum, realizing a “one size fits all” is not feasible.
The following excerpts of resolutions have been brought forward at the Agricultural Service Board Conference since 2000:
Resolution from ASB Provincial Conference 2000 Fusarium (graminearum) awareness and monitoring
Be it resolved – That Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development implement a comprehensive awareness and monitoring program to prevent the spread of Fusarium (Graminearum).
Response – Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development. Fusarium Head Blight (F. graminearum) is a declared pest under the Agricultural Pest Act. Since 1998 Alberta Agriculture Food and Rural Development has a Fusarium Head Blight Response Plan to address the risks and potential impacts of this disease. The Response Plan has a proposed list of action plans to safeguard Alberta’s grain industry. The Response Plan was developed collaboratively with industry and others.
The Alberta Fusarium Committee is made up of plant pathologists and other staff from Alberta Agriculture Food and Rural Development and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, an agricultural Fieldman and industry representatives.
There is an awareness program developed and ongoing in Alberta. The program includes a fact sheet called “Fusarium head blight of barley and wheat.” This is available from seed cleaning plants, industry newsletters, AAFRD district offices, ASB offices and from Alberta Agriculture’s web site. A color poster on Fusarium Head Blight outlining impact, symptoms and management was developed and distributed to crop specialists, agricultural fieldmen and the seed cleaning plants.
A Fusarium Head Blight seminar was organized in Leduc in March 1999 for industry and extension to increase industry awareness. Many newsletter articles, radio interviews and presentations have been given over the last few months to increase awareness to industry and extension staff and producers. A 1999 survey was conducted in Alberta in July and August to monitor the incidence of the disease. To date, incidences of confirmed Fusarium Head Blight in Alberta, are minimal. Monitoring is continuing.
A Prairie Fusarium Task Force made up of researchers from Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta has initiated a major research program to work on many different aspects of the disease and to incorporate disease resistance in the wheat and barley breeding programs.
Resolution from ASB Provincial Conference 2002 Fusarium head blight (f. graminearum)
Be it resolved – That all grain imported into Alberta be tested and certified Fusarium graminearum free prior to entry; and that all seed grain growth in (or offered for sale in) Alberta be tested and certified Fusarium graminearum free.
Response- Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development. Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development is concerned about the spread of Fusarium Head Blight in Alberta. The Fusarium Action Committee, in which there is Agricultural Fieldmen representation, will be developing a zero tolerance policy for Fusarium graminearum. All seed and feed grain coming into the province will have to be tested and certified free of Fusarium graminearum before allowed for use in the province. The policy should be in force by the end of May, 2002.
Resolution from ASB Provincial Conference 2003 Special Pest Control Program – FusariumResolution from ASB Provincial Conference 2003 Fusarium Graminearum Test Funding
Be It Resolved –That Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development reinstate a provincially funded Fusarium graminearum testing program that rebates the producer’s costs at a rate of $25.00 per test to a maximum of $200.00 per farm operation.
Response- Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development
On October 1, 2002, the Alberta Fusarium graminearum Management Plan came into effect. The Plan states a zero tolerance in seed and best management practices for feed (grain, hay or straw). The zero tolerance in seed requires that all cereal grain (including corn) intended for seed, be tested and certified free of Fusarium graminearum before it can be planted. Since the use of seed free of Fusarium Graminearum is in the best interest of the producer to prevent the establishment of the pathogen, the cost of testing should be considered as a cost of doing business. Also, certified seed sold in Alberta is tested and certified free of Fusarium graminearum and requires no further testing or expense by the producer.
Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development have implemented a seed testing cost-share program for two years as awareness/education and to determine the extent of Fusarium graminearum in Alberta. It was not intended to be an ongoing program as seed testing is a cost of doing business and a direct benefit to the producer. We will continue working with both producers and Agricultural Service Boards through education and awareness efforts to prevent Fusarium graminearum from establishing in the province.
Be It Resolved– That the Government in the Province of Alberta provide $1,000,000.00 per year over the next 5 years to be distributed through the Agricultural Service Board Grant as a Special Pest Control Program to help local authorities prevent the spread of Fusarium in Alberta.
Response – Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development
Fusarium graminearum is declared a pest under the Agricultural Pests Act. Enforcement of this Act is the responsibility of the local municipality. As a declared pest, the municipality has the authority to enforce whatever measure it deems necessary to prevent, destroy or control the pest. The Alberta Fusarium graminearum Management Plan provides the measures necessary to manage this pest and prevent establishment in the Province.
Each municipality will have to determine its own level of enforcement based on resources available and a strategic way to be effective. Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development are unable to provide the $1 million per year requested to support an enforcement program.
Resolution from ASB Provincial Conference 2004 Mandatory Fusarium Graminearum testing at Alberta seed cleaning plants
Be it resolved – Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development amend the current Fusarium Graminearum Management Plan to include mandatory testing of all cereal grain prior to entering any co-op, private or mobile seed cleaning plant.
Response – Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development
In October 2002 Minister Shirley McClellan approved a Fusarium Management Plan (FSP) that required all cereal grain (including corn) intended for seed to be tested and certified free of Fusarium graminearum. Grain intended for feed does not require testing but can be used under best management practices. The FSP has been working well in containing the spread of this disease and maintaining a viable agriculture industry.
At the Alberta Seed Cleaning Plant Association’s annual convention in January 2004 a resolution was passed to have all seed tested for Fusarium. The resolution for mandatory testing of all cereal grain prior to cleaning will be reviewed by the Fusarium Action Committee and considered for incorporation into the FSP
Resolution from ASB Provincial Conference 2006 Fusarium Graminearum
Be it resolved– That Alberta’s Agricultural Service Boards request that Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development consider as a recommendation during the review of the current Fusarium Graminearum Management Plan, a zero percent tolerance level of Fusarium Graminearum in cereal seed samples.
Response- Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development
Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (AAFRD) is also concerned about this potential threat to our agriculture industry. The goal of the AlbertaFusarium graminearum Management Plan (FgMP) is to delay the spread and establishment of FHB until resistant crop varieties are developed.
Recent disease surveys by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Canadian Grain Commission are showing that Fg is becoming established in southern Alberta especially in highly susceptible durum and soft white spring wheat grown under irrigation. Seed growers in southern Alberta are starting to see some fields infected with low levels of Fg. The pathogen, however, is still rarely found in central and northern Alberta. The Alberta Fusarium Action Committee (FAC) consisting of representatives from various sectors (grain, livestock and government) of the agricultural industry is discussing various options to address the changing situation in Alberta. However, the FAC is having a difficult time coming to a resolution on this issue.
Given these circumstances and that seeding is fast approaching, AAFRD has decided to maintain, as you have requested, the zero-tolerance policy for Fg on cereal and corn seed intended for planting for the 2006 growing season. We intend to increase our monitoring and awareness campaigns this year and revisit the issue after this coming growing season.
Resolution from ASB Provincial Conference 2012 Requiring Seed Cleaning Plants to test for Fusarium
Be it resolved– that Alberta’s Agricultural Service Boards request
that all seed cleaning plants including mobile plants be required to obtain a certificate from the producer, for each lot of seed to be cleaned, verifying that the seed is free of Fusarium graminearum, prior to accepting the seed into the plant for cleaning.
Response – Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development; Pest Surveillance Branch
Agriculture and Rural Development (ARD) have taken numerous steps to communicate to Alberta Seed Cleaning Plants about the importance of requiring a test for Fusarium graminearum (Fg). Staff from the Pest Surveillance Branch annually give a presentation at a training day for Seed Plant Managers and there have been numerous meetings with the Association of Alberta Co-op Seed Cleaning Plants to discuss this issue. Communication between the Agricultural Fieldman and the local Seed Cleaning Plant is the best way to ensure that managers and their Boards understand the importance of preventing the spread of Fg in their municipality. The same can also occur with private and mobile seed cleaning plants. As a last resort, a pest inspector can always go into a local seed cleaning plant, request samples and have them tested for the presence of Fg. If Fg is found, then a notice can be issued to stop the plant from operating until it complies with the notice.
The following is an excerpt Resolution from 2013AAMDC – Fusarium Graminearum
Be it resolved– that the AAMDC urge the Government of Alberta to continue support for zero percent tolerance for Fusarium graminearum, and maintain that it remain a pest as currently declared in the APA.
Further be it resolved– that the Government of Alberta protect the agriculture industry in Alberta by supporting mandatory testing for Fusarium graminearum prior to grains entering any seed cleaning plant or mobile cleaning unit to prevent spreading of the disease.
This resolution did not meet the three fifths majority
There are many individuals, business sectors, and government sectors involved in the FAC to date. Through countless discussions this committee has set a variety of actions for the producer, business sector and government to follow. Even still Fusarium graminearum continues to spread across the province, due to weather being the most important factor influencing this disease. Producers are managing the risk to a certain extent, however the level and severity of Fusarium graminearum is largely dependent on the weather.
The above resolution and motion provide clear direction for the Associations to move forward and support proposed changes to the Agricultural Pest Act. For areas that have Fusaruim graminearum already established it allows them to work with tolerance levels which are acceptable. In areas where Fusarium graminearum are rare, they may establish a policy to ensure seed being planted has been tested and found non-detectable for Fusaruim graminearum.
The AAMDC has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.