Crop rotation law 'clear and specific,' judge rules
Potato section of the legislation called vague, too broad by some farmers
A request from a farmer to strike down the law that requires Island farmers to rotate their crops on constitutional grounds was rejected by a judge in Summerside provincial court Monday.
The Agricultural Crop Rotation Act became law in 2001 to protect island farms, rivers and the environment.
The farmer who entered the request has been charged under the legislation.
The farmer's lawyer argued that the act is too vague and too broad, an argument that hinged on a key section of the act that prohibits farmers from growing potatoes on the same field more than once every three years.
But Judge Jeff Lantz ruled the act does not violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He said the section is clear, specific and easy to understand.
That means three cases currently before the P.E.I. courts where Island farmers are accused of failing to rotate crops the way the act says will go ahead.
The ruling was a relief for provincial enforcement officers.
"And the question being, was whether it was too vague in order for people to understand it. He ruled today that it was understandable as a regulatory statue in the province and it's a go forward at this basis," said Wade MacKinnon, investigation manager with the Department of Environment, Labour and Justice.
It's been a busy year for enforcement officers.
They laid crop rotation charges against five farming operations and in two of those cases, guilty pleas were entered.
Three are still before the courts.
P.E.I.'s crop rotation act had never been challenged on constitutional grounds.
Now that it has survived that challenge, the remaining court cases will proceed.
The farmer involved in this constitutional challenge will be back in Summerside provincial court Dec. 30.