February 4, 2015 - The governments of Canada and Ontario are investing $4 million annually over the next four years to help farmers improve soil health and promote environmental stewardship.
The Great Lakes Agricultural Stewardship Initiative, targeted to the Lake Erie basin and the southeast shores of Lake Huron, will provide cost-share funding to:
- Identify ways producers can improve soil health, reduce run-off, and improve pollinator habitat
- Modify equipment to address risks related to manure application and pollinator health
- Adopt best management practices, including soil erosion control structures, cover crops, residue management, buffer and shelter strips
The program will also support demonstration farms and technical training for service providers, and education including local workshops. The Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association will deliver the Great Lakes Agricultural Stewardship Initiative on behalf of the federal and provincial governments.
“We see the nutrient issues facing Great Lakes water quality and recognize that voluntary actions in agriculture should be part of the solution," says Alan Kruszel, president of the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association. "Farm families have a strong track record of committing to learn about environmental practices and contributing considerable effort to introduce necessary change. The funding announced today is welcomed by farmers and sends a clear signal that society is willing to lend a hand.”
Ontario farmers have made significant contributions to environmental stewardship, completing more than 23,500 on-farm improvement projects since 2005 with support from various federal-provincial government programs.
On December 19, 2014, Ontario approved the new Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality. In that agreement, both Canada and Ontario commit to creating action plans to reduce the impact of excess nutrients on the water quality of Lake Erie.
The Great Lakes Agricultural Stewardship Initiative is part of Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a comprehensive federal-provincial-territorial framework aimed at encouraging innovation, competitiveness and market development in Canada's agri-food and agri-products sector.