Agriculture’s role in Great Lakes water quality plans, By Brent Royce, Director, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

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Every farmer works in concert with the natural environment. Water, air and soil are the backbone of our farm businesses, and we understand the importance of sound resource management. We follow, with keen interest, any government decisions that impact water management to ensure the agricultural community is included and informed.

There is a renewed Great Lakes proposal on the table – the Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health. It’s a federal-provincial agreement that supports the restoration and protection of the Great Lakes basin ecosystem.

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) recently responded to the proposal, leading with the fact that we are pleased to see that agriculture was specifically included as part of the Great Lakes community under this new Canada-Ontario Agreement which provides agriculture the opportunity to participate and provide advice in the decision-making process.

We used our submission to address specific components of the proposal and draw attention to areas that must have direct input from the agricultural community for the agreement for this to be a meaningful project.

Sustainability is not a new term to farmers. When used in the Great Lakes proposal, sustainability must be considered from a social, economic and environmental standpoint.

Government must provide the resources needed to implement on-the-ground projects to improve water quality. It’s not enough to talk about it – we’ll need considerable resources to be able to make these projects happen in the communities that are impacted.

There is mention of reviewing Ontario’s agricultural drainage management that includes an integrated watershed management approach. OFA is adamant that any discussions related to agricultural drainage management, as part of this new initiative, must involve the agricultural community.

Overall, OFA is encouraged by the possibility the renewed Great Lakes water quality initiative could have on long-term sustainability of our water resources. At the same time, we are urging the government to continue communicating with the agricultural community as more details become available around the Canada-Ontario Agreement related to Great Lakes water quality.

You can read OFA’s full submission at ofa.on.ca, click on Resources then Submissions and Correspondence.

For more information, contact:

Brent Royce
Director
Ontario Federation of Agriculture
519-291-8279

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