Environment Minister Leona Dombrowsky and Agriculture and Food Minister Steve Peters have announced that the Ontario government is exempting farmers from the new administrative fees for permit to take water applications, "This government will continue to support Ontario farmers, while ensuring the clean and stable water supplies that are so essential to our health and our communities," Dombrowsky said.
"Farmers have a very important role in our government's efforts to protect Ontario's water resources through our nutrient management and source protection efforts."
Most Ontario farmers do not require a permit at all -- only those that draw more than 50,000 litres of water a day need a permit to take water; however, they will not have to pay an administrative fee. No permits are required for the direct watering of livestock.
The fee exemption applies to water takings for irrigation and frost protection for agricultural purposes including vegetable crops, fruit orchards, flowers, nurseries, tree and sod farms, tender fruit and aquaculture (fish farming).
The exemption does not apply to agribusiness and food processing operations including vegetable and fruit canning, processing, pickling, and beverage manufacturing, wineries and bottled water.
Administrative fees for all other permit to take water applications are effective April 1, 2005. The fees will cover the cost of processing, evaluating and issuing the permit.
"We recognize farmers' enormous contribution to Ontario," Peters said. "This exemption and the continued improvements to the program will further strengthen our agricultural community."