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Farmers and government working together for the environment

Ontario farmers and government have found ways to effectively work together to monitor compliance to the Nutrient Management Act. Of the first farms inspected, 70 percent have exceeded the requirements for a passing score.


June 4, 2008
By OFA

Topics

June 2, 2008

GUELPH, Ont.  – Farmers and government are proving they can
work co-operatively to benefit Ontario’s environment.

When Ontario first introduced the Nutrient
Management Act, farmers expressed concerns over the thought of compliance
inspections of their properties. This resulted in a number of meetings between
the Ontario Farm Environmental Coalition (OFEC) including the Ontario
Federation of Agriculture, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs,
and the Ministry of the Environment (MOE).

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One decision made following
those meetings was to have the farm inspections done by Agricultural
Environmental Officers, MOE staff with specialized training in agriculture, and
to have those officers focus on achieving compliance through a process of
education rather than prosecutions.

“We knew Ontario farmers would be willing to do
what’s right for the environment,” says Dr. John Fitzgibbon, OFEC chair. 
“They rely on a healthy environment for the success of their farming business
and for the health of their families,” he says.

With the objective of
minimizing administrative requirements for farmers and the use of a scoring
system that measure nutrient management activities, the MOE is finding farmers going
beyond what’s required for a pass score.

Records
show over 70 per cent of the first farms inspected exceeded the requirements
for a pass score. “This is great news for OFEC and farmers across
Ontario
because it shows what a co-operative working spirit between government and
farmers can achieve,” Dr. Fitzgibbon notes.