Farmers involved in Great Lakes basin discussions

The great lakes water quality agreement is being renegotiated

the canadian and US governments made a commitment in 2009 to renegotiate and update the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The initial agreement was signed in 1972 with both countries committing to restoring and maintaining the Great Lakes basin ecosystem.

The agreement lists the different programs and activities that each government has committed to aid in the restoration and maintenance of the Great Lakes basin ecosystem.

Since 1972 the agreement has been updated twice, with the last update occurring in 1987. After a public review in 2006, it was identified that the agreement was out of date and needed to be renegotiated. The renegotiation of the agreement was initiated in 2009 and the process is ongoing. It is expected that a new agreement will be in place by the end of 2011.

The public review identified 10 areas that pose as challenges for the Great Lakes basin now and into the future. The nutrient run off from agriculture lands was identified as one of the areas of concern. The revised agreement could place limitations on the application of fertilizers and crop protection products in order to address the concerns surrounding run off from agricultural lands. Irrigation practices and permits to take water could also be impacted by the revised agreement.

The renegotiation of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement is being led by Environment Canada and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. The Canadian negotiators have been consulting an advisory panel of representatives from across many sectors including cottagers, environmental groups, anglers and hunters and farmers.

The agriculture sector has three seats on the panel with representatives from AGCare, the Ontario Farm Animal Council and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. The purpose of the committee of representatives is to provide advice to the negotiators on the Great Lakes Water Quality agreement. Because AGCare is a coalition recognized for environmental leadership, the panel named AGCare as a seat. Together with OFAC and OFA, the goal is to ensure agriculture’s voice is heard on issues of importance to all farmers with a common sense, practical approach in this important discussion.

For more information about the Great Lakes Water Quality agreement please visit the Environment Canada website at www.ec.gc.ca and click on the water resource page. •

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