Farm groups collaborate to reduce phosphorus, improve Erie water quality

Seven provincial agricultural organizations provided leadership into the development of the Canada-Ontario Lake Erie Action Plan (CO-LEAP).

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Seven provincial agricultural organizations provided leadership into the development of the Canada-Ontario Lake Erie Action Plan (CO-LEAP).

Over the last decade, Lake Erie has been struggling with high phosphorus levels. Farming is one of the leading land uses in the Lake Erie watershed, giving agriculture a critical role to play in improving water quality in the lake.

A collaboration of seven provincial agricultural organizations provided leadership into the development of the Canada-Ontario Lake Erie Action Plan (CO-LEAP). Ontario Pork, on behalf of the group known as Environmental Collaboration Ontario (Eco-Ag), has been approved for funding under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (the Partnership) for a project to support CO-LEAP implementation.

“Canadian farmers know the value of protecting our land and water through the use of sustainable practices, ” said Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. “Our government is committed to working with Ontario and the agriculture sector through the Partnership to give farmers the tools and knowledge they need to help improve water quality in the Lake Erie basin.”

“This project, which supports our Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan, is part of our work to improve water quality in the Great Lakes watershed and support the environmental stewardship of our farmers,” said Ernie Hardeman, Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “We’re dedicated to working with farmers to meet our shared goals for improving water quality and environmental stewardship.”

Eco-Ag members include Ontario Pork, Grain Farmers of Ontario, Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers, Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers, Ontario Sheep Farmers and Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association.

The project includes: a comprehensive study of successful programs and activities that contribute to reducing phosphorus; building more integrated partnership networks beyond agriculture that include government, academia, and community, environmental and Indigenous groups; developing the industry’s information and collaboration infrastructure to support policies and programs that will help the sector enact positive change; and exploring technological tools that can help effectively manage data and support decision-making processes.

For example, integrating several layers of mapping with new research on a watershed supports the development of best management systems suited to the diverse uses, geography and other features in the watershed.

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