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Protecting our Great Lakes: Ontario producers work together to reduce phosphorus in Lake Erie

Protecting our Great Lakes: Ontario producers work together to reduce phosphorus in Lake Erie

Governments highlight multiple industry initiatives in recent Action Plan

 

By Kaitlynn Anderson

Staff Reporter

Farms.com

 

The federal and provincial governments called on the agricultural community to help protect Ontario’s freshwater through the final Lake Erie Action Plan on Thursday.

Overall, the government aims to reduce the amount of phosphorus entering Lake Erie by 40 per cent, according to Thursday’s news release.

“I am pleased that Ontario's agriculture sector continues to be a leader in identifying and implementing ways to reduce phosphorus entering our Great Lakes,” the Honourable Jeff Leal, Ontario’s minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs, said in the release. “By working together with our partners, Ontario will continue to address this vital environmental matter.”

The plan includes a mix of over 120 mandatory and voluntary actions for the government and its partners. Each of these actions falls under one of five categories:

-        Category A: reduce phosphorus loadings

o   The governments will support such initiatives as a program “that provides $4.1 million over four years in financial support for projects demonstrating effectiveness of BMPs (best management practices) and/or innovative approaches to reducing phosphorus loads to Lake Erie.”

-        Category B: ensure effective policies, programs and legislation

o   This year, the provincial government will review Ontario’s “rural stormwater and agricultural drainage management using an integrated watershed approach.”

-        Category C: improve the knowledge base

o   “Ontario will continue to leverage government research programs and initiatives to fund needed research and new technologies to test and improve agricultural BMPs for phosphorus reduction.”

-        Category D: educate and build awareness

o   The governments will work with the agricultural industry to “develop and deliver information and tools to increase cover crop use in the non-growing season to improve soil health and reduce field runoff.”

-        Category E: strengthen leadership and co-ordination

o   Under this category, the governments will work with groups “to enhance the current level of co-ordination by clarifying (the involved parties’) roles and responsibilities (regarding phosphorus reduction), as well as by strengthening the effectiveness of existing committees and other governance structures.”

Farms.com has reached out to Grow Ontario Together, a collaboration of organizations within the industry, for comment.