Helping Ontario farmers protect Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair watersheds

Applications for LEADS program being accepted this month 


Jan. 11, 2021 

SIMCOE — The governments of Canada and Ontario will soon be accepting applications for a new round of project funding to help farmers improve environmental sustainability and water quality in the Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair watersheds. In addition to protecting Ontario’s water, this investment will continue to improve farm productivity in the region. 

Starting January 20, 2021, applications will be accepted for a new intake under the Lake Erie Agriculture Demonstrating Sustainability (LEADS) initiative. LEADS is a regionally targeted cost-share program funded under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (the Partnership). Approved projects will target improved soil health and reduced risk of nutrient losses in the Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair watersheds. Eligible applications will be received and assessed on a continuous basis, while funding is available. Up to $2.58 million is allocated for supporting approved LEADS projects this year. 

“Farmers in the Lake Erie watershed are in a good position, with the help of this government initiative, to boost the health of Lake Erie,” said Haldimand-Norfolk MPP. 

“The Government of Canada is committed to helping farmers protect our environment, including our natural bounty of lakes, rivers and other freshwater systems. Through the LEADS initiative we are helping farmers take concrete actions to improve soil health and water quality in the Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair watershed areas,” said the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. 

“Our government is committed to protecting our environment now and for future generations,” said the Honourable Ernie Hardeman, Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “Through this latest round of LEADS funding we are building on the work that has already been done to help farmers increase the environmental sustainability of their operations and improve the quality of Ontario’s water system.” 

“The Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association is pleased to deliver the LEADS program again in 2021,” said Stuart Wright, OSCIA President. “We are looking forward to supporting farmers as they strive to make soil health and water quality improvements in the Lake Erie basin. The LEADS program removes some of the financial challenges of trying new actions, helping farmers advance their stewardship of the environment.” 

“Farmers in the Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair watershed areas continue to improve their environmental performance. Through the LEADS initiative, we are helping them to continue to adopt better environmental practices and technologies to improve soil health and reduce nutrient loss,” said Neil Ellis, Parliamentary Secretary to the federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. 

Some examples of projects eligible for support under LEADS include: 

•       Establishing permanently vegetated buffer strips adjacent to streams, drains, rivers, ponds, wetlands and lakes to reduce nutrient loss and soil erosion 

•       Retiring environmentally fragile lands from agricultural production and planting permanent vegetative cover to reduce the loss of soil and nutrients from these lands 

•       Modifying equipment to improve management of agricultural nutrients, to support reduced tillage and to reduce soil compaction  

•       Installation of soil erosion control structures including grass waterways and water and sediment control basins to reduce soil erosion losses. 

Since June 2018, both the federal and provincial governments have committed cost-share support to more than 4,200 projects through the partnership, to help eligible Ontario farmers, processors, businesses and sector organizations innovate and grow.


▪  LEADS is a five-year, $15.6 million investment by the federal and provincial governments, available until March 2023, to help farmers take action to improve soil health and water quality in the Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair watershed areas. 

▪  The Partnership is a five-year, $3-billion commitment by Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial governments that supports Canada’s agri-food and agri-products sectors. 

▪  Since 2018, more than 730 projects have been approved under the regionally targeted LEADS initiative, with $7 million committed through the Partnership to support completion of these on-farm improvement projects.   

▪  LEADS is delivered by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA). 

Contact the OSCIA about LEADS at 1-800-265-9751 or 

▪  LEADS supports the Canada-Ontario Lake Erie Action Plan and aligns with the Made-inOntario Environment Plan. 

▪  The Ontario agri-food sector supports more than 860,000 jobs in Ontario and contributes more than $47.3 billion each year to the province’s economy. 


The Canadian Agricultural Partnership in Ontario 

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada 

Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association 


For more information, contact MPP Toby Barrett at 519-428-0446 or