Cows in a fieldThe various global and local processes that make up the "food system" – from agricultural operations to food processing, distribution and waste management – have profound impacts on communities, the economy and the environment. For example, improperly managed manure, fertilizer and pesticides can contaminate soil and water. Conversely, many farmers provide stewardship services, like protecting species-at-risk habitat, that support and enhanced surrounding ecosystems.

Agriculture and food-related matters are primarily the responsibility of Ontario's Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), although the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) does play a role in managing some issues relating to pesticides, wastewater and other matters.

Successes under the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR)
Key Outstanding ECO Recommendations
  • In our 2014/2015 Annual Report, the ECO recommended that the MOECC report annually on its progress to ensure greenhouse wastewater discharges meet Provincial Water Quality Objectives, as part of Ontario’s implementation plan towards the Lake Erie phosphorus reduction goal announced in 2015. OMAFRA and the MOECC estimated that fewer than 3 per cent of greenhouses in Ontario were likely to take advantage of a new regulation to manage nutrient feedwater generated from their operations, thus limiting the impact of the regulation on phosphorus releases from greenhouse wastewater into Lake Erie.
  • In our 2012/2013 Annual Report, the ECO recommended that each of the 16 ministries under the Ontario Government Plan to Conserve Biodiversity (including OMAFRA) develop an implementation plan by 2014. As reported in our 2014/2015 Annual Report, no ministries, including OMAFRA, have developed an implementation plan.
ECO Reporting on Agriculture and Food

The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO) has reported on a wide range of issues related to the food and agriculture, including matters relating to: food production and waste policies; soil health; nutrient management; the relationship between agriculture and climate change; ecosystem impacts of agricultural operations; and genetically modified organisms. Below is a selection of the ECO’s reports and articles on agriculture and food. You can also use the search bar at the top of this page to search our website and reports for a particular word or phrase.

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