ID No.: GQM00256
PRESS RELEASE 5
Report of the Commission sur la gestion de leau au Québec
BAPE COMMISSION CALLS FOR AN OVERHAUL OF
QUÉBECS AGRICULTURAL POLLUTION ABATEMENT STRATEGY
Québec City, May 3, 2000 In its report to Environment Minister Paul Bégin, the Commission sur la gestion de l'eau au Québec recommends that the Ministère de lEnvironnement, in conjunction with the Ministère de lAgriculture, des Pêcheries et de lAlimentation and the other departments and agencies concerned, conduct an extensive review of the governments agricultural pollution abatement strategy with a view to balancing agricultural production and environmental protection objectives.
So far, Québecs efforts to reduce pollution from agricultural sources have essentially focused on the installation of manure storage structures to prevent point source pollution.
However, the long-term impacts from nonpoint source pollution, the type stemming from current farming practices, inorganic fertilizer and pesticide use, excess manure spreading, intensive agricultural drainage, and assaults on watercourses, are far more worrisome. Still poorly understood and not adequately assessed, nonpoint source pollution poses a serious threat to surface and groundwater quality, as its long-term effects are slow to appear, difficult to curb and extremely costly to correct.
Furthermore, nonpoint source pollution risks wiping out the headway made in cleaning up Québecs principal watercourses under urban and industrial remediation programs.
In the Commissions opinion, Québec needs to rethink its entire agricultural strategy. While there is still a need for public education, it is not enough on its own. And taking a strictly shotgun approach will not succeed either due, among other things, to the large number of farmers and "the substantial political power wielded by the agricultural community in Québec." The Commission considers the governments current approach to be contradictory, as it asks the agricultural community to increase productivity and double exports and yet still meet strict environmental standards.
The Commission calls on the government to adopt a new approach that integrates environmental protection with agricultural production and makes farming subsidies conditional upon the achievement of environmental objectives. The Commission also says that increased support for the agricultural community to counter point and nonpoint source pollution and establish closer cooperation between the environment and agriculture departments and other agencies concerned is critical to sustainable agriculture.
Serge Labrecque, Information Officer
Telephone: (418) 643-7447 or 1-800-463-4732
Ó Gouvernement du Québec 2000