Province Helps Farmers Protect The Environment

Archived Release

Province Helps Farmers Protect The Environment

Moves To Make Nutrient Management Science-Based; Increases Assistance For Large Farms TORONTO, June 22 - The Ontario government is helping farmers responsibly manage animal waste to protect the environment, Agriculture and Food Minister Steve Peters and Environment Minister Leona Dombrowsky announced today. "We're committed to making regulations more flexible for farmers while protecting the safety of our drinking water," said Peters. "We need to get results, simplify the rules and provide financial assistance for farmers who are experiencing economic challenges." Proposed changes to animal waste management rules under the Nutrient Management Regulation announced today by the government would mean: - More flexibility for the development of farmers' nutrient management plans and strategies - More Ontario farms practising nutrient management - Continued protection for streams and wells through the development of risk-based standards for the construction and placement of manure storage facilities "Healthy water resources are the foundation of the quality of life enjoyed on our farms, in our rural communities and by all Ontarians," said Dombrowsky. "Our actions will help ensure a healthy environment and a competitive agriculture industry." The province is making it easier for existing large livestock farms to comply with waste-management rules by increasing available assistance and extending the application deadline for assistance for certain costs associated with becoming compliant. All existing large livestock operations must submit a nutrient management strategy by July 1, 2005, and be in full compliance by December 31, 2005. "Our organization has worked very closely with the Ontario government to develop a risk-based strategy for nutrient management that protects both the environment and the viability of farm operations," said John Fitzgibbon, Chair of the Ontario Farm Environmental Coalition. "We are pleased to continue working with the government in regard to the needs of the agriculture industry." To ensure that the draft standards protect the environment and meet the needs of farmers, the government will invest up to $1 million in each of the next three years for a competitive research program, coordinated by the University of Guelph, to ensure that draft standards are science-based and appropriate for Ontario agriculture. Disponible en français www.OMAF.gov.on.ca Backgrounder ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Proposed Changes to the Nutrient Management Regulation ------------------------------------------------------ and Financial Assistance Program -------------------------------- The Ontario government is helping farmers protect the environment by ensuring requirements under the Nutrient Management Act are simpler and science-based, and enhancing the financial assistance available for those large livestock farms currently subject to the regulation. Proposed changes to Nutrient Management Regulation -------------------------------------------------- Key changes being proposed to the Nutrient Management Act include: - increasing the number of farms practising nutrient management under the regulation by phasing-in new and expanding livestock farms - ensuring priority standards for the protection of streams and wells - ensuring standards are science-based, such as requiring all farms within 100 metres of municipal wells to follow legislated land application standards - streamlining the process for nutrient management plans and strategies for livestock farms - simplifying regulations for farmers by allowing more flexibility in the design of their nutrient management strategy and plan - revising priorities for construction and siting of manure storages. Nutrient Management Financial Assistance Program ------------------------------------------------ The Ontario government recognizes that Ontario producers are faced with challenging economic conditions. In order to help existing large livestock farms comply with the nutrient management regulation by the end of 2005, the government has enhanced the financial assistance available to them. Up to $60,000 in provincial funding will be available for each eligible farm unit, increased from $45,000. Up to 90 per cent government cost-sharing is available when coupled with federal funding under the Canada-Ontario Farm Stewardship Program. Maximum amounts for many eligible items will also be increased. Existing large livestock farms that fall under the regulation are eligible for funding. The deadline for applications will be extended to September 1, 2005. Full compliance is still required by December 31, 2005. Future short list of science-based standards for all farms ---------------------------------------------------------- Over the next two years, a short list of nutrient management standards will be developed that could, over time, apply to all farms in Ontario beginning in 2008. A short list of science-based, minimum nutrient management standards that are not costly to implement, would lower producer's liability, and would eventually apply to all farms in Ontario will be developed in consultation with stakeholders and the Provincial Nutrient Management Advisory Committee. Approaches to phase-in and financial assistance would also be developed for possible implementation in 2008. More information ---------------- Producers are still required to meet the current regulatory timeframes. New or existing large livestock farms must submit a Nutrient Management Strategy by July 1, 2005 and be fully compliant by December 31, 2005. For information on the Nutrient Management Financial Assistance Program, please contact the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association, at (519) 826-4214. A comprehensive table outlining the proposed regulatory changes and the enhanced financial assistance for existing large livestock farms will be available at www.omaf.gov.on.ca, or call 1-866-242-4460. In support of these changes, the government will be investing up to $1 million per year for three years in a competitive research program, coordinated through the University of Guelph, to further examine some of the standards. The proposed changes have been posted for public comment on the Environmental Bill of Rights registry at http://www.ene.gov.on.ca/envision/env_reg/ebr/english for 30 days and are intended to be in effect for the December 31 deadline. Disponible en français www.OMAF.gov.on.caFor further information: Media Contact: Susan McConnell, Minister's Office, (416) 326-6439, (416) 606-8303(cell); Program Contact: Charles Lalonde, Environmental Policy and Programs Branch, (519) 826-3577