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Final intake for Lake Erie initiative

Final intake for Lake Erie initiative

LEADS aims to protect the watershed through helping farmers adopt practices that improve soil health and reduce runoff

By Jackie Clark
Staff Writer 

The final intake of the Lake Erie Agriculture Demonstrating Sustainability (LEADS) program will be open from Nov. 2 to Nov. 8, according to an Oct. 18 announcement from the government of Ontario. 

The program “supports the implementation of best management practices on farms within the Lake Erie and Lake St Clair watersheds,” says the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA), who administers the program. 

For the final intake, the federal and provincial government are providing $2.58 million in cost-share funding. 

“Cost-share levels are determined by the risks identified through the completion of a Farmland Health Check-Up,” according to the OSCIA. 

Funding priorities include planting cover crops, equipment modifications to reduce tillage and compaction, improving nutrient placement, and planting of trees or other vegetation to serve as wind breaks, said the Oct. 18 release. 

The goal of the program is to protect water quality through adopting practices that improve soil health, reduce nutrient runoff, and make farms more sustainable and resilient. 

“The investments made by federal and provincial governments in the on-farm projects supported through LEADS are greatly appreciated in the agricultural community,” said Chad Anderson, president of OSCIA, in the release. “This funding will result in significant environmental gains that improve soil health and water quality in the Lake Erie basin.”

The LEADS program began in 2018 and totals a $15.6 million commitment. So far, over 930 projects have been approved and granted a collective $9.2 million. Projects that receive LEADS cost-share funding must be completed by Sept. 30 2022. 

“Canadian farmers are leading stewards of our environment, always looking for new tools and innovations to ensure their sustainability,” said Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal minister of agriculture and agri-food in the release. “I encourage farmers in Southwestern Ontario to make a project application.”

Projects through LEADS “can help improve their farms and the Lake Erie watershed,” she said. 

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