Funding available for farmers taking a lead on soil health and protection of Lake Erie watershed

·2 min read

The Lake Erie Agriculture Demonstrating Sustainability (LEADS) initiative will begin accepting project funding applications on Jan. 20, 2021.

Started in 2018, the LEADS initiative is a cost-share program that seeks to improve soil health and reduce agriculture chemicals, such as phosphorus, from entering into waterways from the Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair watersheds.

“Farmers will work one-on-one with a participating certified crop adviser or professional agrologist, free of charge, to identify best management practices tailored to the specific needs of their operation,” reads an Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs’ website on the program.

Canada and Ontario have committed to a 40 per cent reduction of phosphorus entering into Lake Erie’s western and central basins by 2025, through two environmental action plans.

Funded by the Canadian Agricultural Partnership with $15.6 million in taxpayer dollars from the provincial and federal governments, the initiative runs until March of 2023. According to a Jan. 8 press release, at least 730 projects have already been approved at a cost of $7 million to support on-farm projects.

Approved projects can be funded up to between 45 and 65 per cent of their cost, depending on the applicant’s Farmland Health Check-Up (FHCU).

This year’s intake has $2.58 million available to be administered by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association. Applications will be “received and assessed” until the funding is used up.

If you’re a producer on the Lake Erie watershed, to be eligible for funding you’ll need to submit an FHCU, an Environmental Farm Plan, and have a Farm Business Registration Number.

For more information on the LEADS initiative, including how to apply, visit ontariosoilcrop.org or call 1-800-265-9751.

Jordan Snobelen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara this Week