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River air pollution: farmers being singled out, rightly or wrongly?

The Union of Agricultural Producers (UPA) claims that farmers aren’t primarily answerable for the air pollution and eutrophication of waterways and believes that they lack info on the appliance of the laws. of the transitional regime for shores, coastlines and flood-prone areas. The Ministry of the Atmosphere, alternatively, ensures that producers have all the knowledge out there, and for a very long time.

However, the state of the rivers is just not bettering, reveals the newest report on the state of water assets and aquatic ecosystems in Quebec, printed in 2020. The symptoms measured in small rivers which are influenced by agriculture then confirmed a nasty general or unhealthy intermediate state. Fishing information and wildlife administration technician Alec Delage says fish habitats in Lake Saint-Pierre have deteriorated because of eutrophication.

39 declarations of conformity

The Ministry of the Atmosphere emphasizes that it’s necessary for farmers who want to proceed their actions within the coastal zone to conform and file a declaration of compliance. Besides that as of November 2, 2022, the division had solely obtained
39 declarations of conformity. Producers say they lack info to find the boundaries of the littoral zone, however the ministry disagrees. “Since 1987, when the Coverage for the Safety of Shores, Littoral Areas and Floodplains got here into impact, the strategies for figuring out the placement of the shoreline restrict have been disseminated by our ministry,” argues publicist Caroline Cloutier. . These strategies haven’t modified, even underneath the transitional regime. The ministry additionally produced the interactive map of the restrict of the littoral (arcgis.com). Municipalities may additionally maintain extra info. The latter provides that the agronomists obtained particular coaching on the appliance of the transitional regime on March 3, 2022 and that throughout the summer time of 2022, greater than 250 farmers have been met by the ministry’s environmental management stakeholders with a purpose to clarify to them the necessities of the transitional regime for his or her property, whereas offering them with a abstract doc.

The president of the Union of agricultural producers, Martin Caron, underlines that sure conferences of the ministry on the farm went nicely, however that others, not. “The echoes I’ve had is that the ministry has despatched interns to elucidate the transitional regime and to point out the excessive water limits. I believe that sending college students might not be the appropriate factor, as a result of the issue for a lot of producers is figuring out the restrict of the flood zone, the place it’s, ”he pleads.

Expropriated?

Martin Caron additionally deplores the non-recognition of works, akin to dikes, by the ministry, which thus considers sure fields as being in flood zones, whereas with dikes, these lands are not flooded, he says. The president of the UPA mentions that he’s not towards the regulation of the transitional regime, however he assures that the best way it’s utilized, “producers don’t simply really feel expropriated, however really feel that we’re appropriates their agricultural manufacturing.

The Division responds to this topic that the cultivation of soil within the littoral zone and within the first three meters of the shore was beforehand prohibited by the Coverage for the safety of shores, littoral zones and floodplains. “The transitional regime now permits cultivation on the coast underneath sure situations, and quickly lifts the bans on bringing in inputs. This can be a rest of provincial and municipal laws,” recollects Ms. Cloutier.

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“Folks must mild up”

Fishing information at Lake Saint-Pierre for twenty years, Alec Delage, who has additionally obtained coaching in wildlife administration methods, regrets that for years, the varied stakeholders have been throwing the ball at one another regarding the degradation of fish habitats, with out that the end result improves. “There have been a number of committees and I nonetheless participate in conferences, however blah-blah-blah, issues are stepping into circles. The fact is that in this time, the fish useful resource is reducing. It is not sophisticated, it is the habitats which are degrading. Eutrophication, sedimentation. Take the instance of perch. Fishing has been prohibited for 10 years in order that the inhabitants can get well, however there aren’t any extra yellow perch at this time. Why? As a result of its habitat is degraded. It’s pressing to behave. Folks must mild up, ”explains the person who additionally runs a fishing faculty at Lake Saint-Pierre, the place each summer time he teaches younger individuals about fish biology and fishing methods.

With out blaming the farmers alone, he ensures that the absence of a vegetated strip alongside a number of watercourses, using farming methods that create soil erosion in addition to the inaccurate software of fertilizers or their overuse signify a serious habitat downside. Quebec research underline this, and he himself sees it visually in his sector. “Final spring, I used to be getting back from a workshop that I gave to younger individuals from a faculty, and on the banks of the river, I noticed a tractor spreading liquid manure in its three-quarters flooded discipline. My jaw dropped me. He was spreading as if nothing had occurred. Sure, some are bettering and nicely executed, however after I see that, I inform myself that with others, nothing has modified. »

Duty of the agricultural neighborhood

Martin Caron disagrees with those that maintain the agricultural surroundings answerable for the eutrophication and sedimentation of waterways. “It is not simply on the agricultural aspect, let’s take into consideration the flushes from Montreal. The agricultural surroundings, we’ve a broad again, I discover. That mentioned, he’s advocating for growers to embrace cowl crop crops. “As producers, we’re mobilized. If our soils are coated, we enhance the standard of the water. You do not want naked floor. On that, we agree, however placing a vegetative strip wall to wall, no. »

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