Government consults with local agriculture sector to improve Lake Erie agriculture demonstrating sustainability initiative 

PORT DOVER – The Ontario Government is supporting farmers in their efforts to protect our environment and improve the quality of Ontario’s water system through a new intake which commits up to $2.58 million under the Lake Erie Agriculture Demonstrating Sustainability(LEADS) initiative. LEADS aims to safeguard the province’s water through reducing nutrient loss, in particular, phosphorus from agriculture lands within the Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair watersheds, and improving the soil health of farmland.   

To ensure the LEADS initiative is meeting its objective of environmental preservation, Toby Barrett, the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and MPP for Haldimand- Norfolk recently held a series of virtual consultations with Ontario farmers to hear their feedback on the program. Feedback from the consultations will be used in planning the next intake.  

The meetings also included certified crop advisors, professional agrologists, conservation authorities and nutrient management consultants.  

“Our farmers are careful stewards of the land, and we’re committed to helping them better protect Ontario’s environment by improving water quality and soil health,” said Barrett. “I want to thank everyone who took the time to provide their thoughts and suggestions on how we can make future improvements to the LEADS initiative.”  

Applications for this year’s intake of LEADS opened on January 20 and have since closed due to high interest in the program.  

Some examples of LEADS projects funded under the intake include:  

  • Installation of soil erosion control structures including grass waterways, water and sediment control basins to reduce soil erosion losses.  
  • Establishing windbreaks and wind strips to reduce wind erosion to prevent soil loss.  
  • Planting over winter cover crops to reduce erosion risks through loss of soil and nutrients from these lands.  
  • Retiring environmentally fragile lands from active agricultural production   

LEADS-supported projects have helped reduce the risk of soil loss and soil nutrient loss and improved water quality in its target region through implementing a variety of best on-farm management practices.  

LEADS also supports the Canada-Ontario Lake Erie Action Plan and aligns with the Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan, committing to a 40 per cent reduction of phosphorus run off into Lake Erie and its watershed.  

Since 2018, more than 730 projects have been approved under the regionally targeted LEADS initiative, with $7 million committed by the provincial and federal governments to support completion of these on-farm improvement projects.  

 For more information, contact MPP Toby Barrett at 519-428-0446 or toby.barrett@pc.ola.org