Water and Agriculture

Sustainability, Markets and Policies

image of Water and Agriculture

Agriculture is a major user of water and is responsible for much of its pollution. But the agricultural sector faces increasing competition for scarce water supplies from urban and industrial users and, increasingly, to sustain ecosystems.  This conference proceedings explores how both governments and the private sector can expand the role of markets to allocate water used by all sectors and to get agricultural producers to account for the pollution that their sector generates.



The Challenge of Reconciling Water and Agricultural Policies – The Role of Public Hearings

In recent years, the Québec government has introduced new measures that significantly reinforce frameworks for both water protection and agricultural activities. In late 2002, it adopted the Québec Water Policy, which undertakes to introduce a watershed-based management strategy for cleaning up watercourses and intensifying agricultural clean-up efforts. Agricultural policies have also been undergoing important transformations in Québec over the past few years. The Regulation Respecting Agricultural Operations has reinforced controls over agricultural pollution, while the policy directions for the sustainable development of hog farming, adopted in 2004, have led to the implementation of new measures and requirements favouring the integration of sustainable development principles in pig farming. These changes were legitimised by extensive public consultations conducted by a specialised office for public hearings on the environment, the Bureau d'audiences publiques sur l'environnement (BAPE). Through these consultations, BAPE provided advice and recommendations to guide government decision-making with a view to sustainable development. It held comprehensive public hearings on water management in 1999–2000 and on sustainable development for hog farming in 2002–2003. These two consultation processes were the key events on which current reforms are based, and they have contributed to meeting the challenge of reconciling water and agricultural policies.


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