Over the last several months there have been numerous moves toward the establishment of new environmental protection standards specifically related to farming operations in various provinces. Existing and proposed provincial requirements regarding nutrient management and environmental standards on farms are at the forefront of many farm and environmentalist groups' agendas. The public is paying more attention to the impact of farming operations on both the natural environment and human health. In particular, a great deal of attention has been focussed on how the improper handling and application of manure may contaminate surface water, groundwater, air quality and soil. All of these factors have led to the exploration of regulatory options. Depending on whether the new environmental regulatory regime imposes more stringent standards (rather than imposing a mandatory regime which is consistent with voluntary standards already followed by many producers), production costs, structure, and the overall nature of Canadian farming operations may be impacted. This special report identifies the key components of agricultural operations environmental legislation in Ontario and Alberta, and compares and contrasts the legislative and regulatory approaches and the driving forces behind the introduction of the legislation in these two jurisdictions. While the report focuses on the legislative initiatives underway in Ontario and Alberta, it should be kept in mind that similar initiatives have also been undertaken in Quebec. Competitive pressures and a public demand for consistent agricultural operations environmental standards across Canada mean that the precedents established in any particular province or provinces are likely to be followed to a significant degree across Canada.


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