Potato farmers granted partial victory in slope violation conviction
Two Island farmers convicted of planting potatoes on a slope that was too steep were granted a partial victory from the P.E.I. Court of Appeal.
Alex Docherty, chairman of the PEI Potato Board, and his brother-in-law Blake MacDonald were found guilty in 2013 of planting row crops on land that was too steep at a property in Kingston the previous summer.
According to court documents the farmers were each fined $3,420.
Both men appealed.
In a written decision, the P.E.I. Court of Appeal upheld the conviction against Docherty.
But the court quashed the conviction against MacDonald, saying there wasn't enough evidence presented in court to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Justice John Mitchell said the two men shouldn't have been convicted based on paperwork they filed for insurance or a declaration to obtain seed inspection.
But Mitchell said Docherty disclosed in that paperwork that he was the grower and that the potatoes were planted.
"I agree with the appellants that the definition of 'cultivate' does not go so far as to include administrative acts such as completing forms for insurance or a growers declaration to obtain seed inspection, and that the Summary Conviction Appeal judge made an error in extending the interpretation of 'cultivate' to include such acts," the decision reads.
"However the evidence tendered contained admissions by Docherty that he was the grower, that in May he intended to plant potatoes, the potatoes were planted May 26, and that in June he confirmed that the potatoes were planted, and that the crop was his.
"That together with his financial interest leads one to no other conclusion but that he did cultivate the crop."