Thursday, December 14, 2017

No mandatory phosphorous controls

While agriculture politicians talked about algae blooms in Lake Erie and the need for farmers to curb phosphorous runoff, nobody said anything about mandatory measures, Ontario Agriculture Minister Jeff Leal said in a brief interview.

He met recently with his counterparts in Michigan and Pennsylvania and they talked about the most recent International Joint Commission report which urged more action to curb phosphorous runoff into the Great Lakes, especially Lake Erie.

It is the shallowest and warmest and therefore most prone to algae blooms, Leal said.

A goal was set this year to reduce phosphorous runoff into Lake Erie by 40 per cent from 2014 levels. 

Farming will be asked to share the bulk of that burden.

He said Ontario’s farmers have been making progress, noting that 30,000 farms now have completed Environmental Farm Plans and that the three general farm organizations support the goals – the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario and the Ontario Branch of the National Farmers Union.

When he was asked if anybody mentioned the possibility that mandatory measures might be required, he said “not as yet.”

Leal was more interested in talking about trade and the efforts he has made to persuade his counterparts to push for a new North American Free Trade Agreement.

Leal said he met with seven state counterparts in June, was at the talks among Mexican, U.S. and Canadian agriculture leaders in Denver in October and has spoken with agriculture-industry leaders in 30 states.