The PEI Federation of Agriculture and the PEI farming community strongly support Brookfield Gardens and the Dykerman family. They are leaders within the farming community that are often held up as examples of how to farm in a sustainable manner that respects the environment. The farming community also strongly supports environmental protection – and believes all people have in important role to play. The farming community does not condone reckless disregard for the environment, but we contend that is not what happened in this case. We believe farmers, including Brookfield Gardens, put forward their best efforts to minimize or eliminate risk and harm to the environment.
We exercise “Due Diligence” – as it was correctly called in the courtroom. We appeal to the public and Government that farmers in general are not criminals who mulishly disregard the environment. In fact we appeal to you that the opposite is true. The PEIFA believes it is important to note that one provincial court judge felt Brookfield Gardens met the test of due diligence in their original case in 2015 only to have another judge disagree. The Government has spent four years getting a conviction. Has the standard changed? If so – how do farmers know they are taking the proper precautions? Do the Courts within our legal system have a clear signal as to what the standard must be? This apparent confusion troubles the farm community. The law Brookfield was convicted of breaking , is in essences being interpreted to state, that Brookfield Gardens and any person needs to guarantee that no harm will come to the environment, even in the event of a severe rain storm . This is simply unrealistic and unfair. It is our view that they were simply victims of extreme weather and a changing climate.
The Deleterious Substance charge was designed to make large corporate polluters pay large fines as a deterrent. This is now being used by Government to prosecute small farm families who have fallen victim to climate change and the increasingly common extreme rainfall events that come with that. The PEIFA and the farming community as a whole can tell you that Climate Change is here, and Brookfield Gardens is one of the first victims of its effects inside a courtroom. We are concerned about what that means and are standing up for what we feel is unfair treatment, stress and hardship. Farmers are facing extremely heavy rainfall within short time frames. Rainfall events that the UPEI Climatology lab has often titled as 100 and 200 year rain events – and these happen almost annually. The farming community would contend that it is simply unrealistic and unfair that anyone in good standing be held responsible for things they simply cannot control. Extreme weather events will continue to challenge our laws, our regulations Working to improve the sustainability of Island farms and farm families and farmers will continue to find themselves where Brookfield Gardens stands today. Things need to change. Farmers have been working on sustainability and are prepared to continue to adapt our practices to meet the challenges climate change brings, but what the standard must be is an ongoing research question.
More importantly, will that standard meet the test in court – can we protect our family operations from prosecution and litigation? It is unnerving. This trial has come to an end today after four years at a cost of hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars and countless resources. We view this as a poor use of public finances. The Dykermans and the farming community feel we should put this case behind us, learn from it, and put future resources towards working together to find ways to effectively deal with extreme weather events and what we can do together to prevent unnecessary harm to our environment. The farming community calls on both levels of government to join with industry in determining how we can do better within this changing climate. The PEIFA proposes the striking of a task force that involves both levels of Government, to examine how we can protect not only the environment, but the farmers of PEI who work hard and do not expect to end up in court fighting for a business that often has taken generations to build. — Founded in 1941, to provide a United Voice for Island Farmers, the PEI Federation of Agriculture is the province’s largest general farm organization. It exists to help improve the sustainability of Island farms and farm families. The PEIFA manages and delivers over $45 million in programming to Island farmers.
For more information, contact:
Phone: (902) 368-7289
Cell: (902) 388-0465
Fax: (902) 368-7204