Protecting the environment – one farm at a time

Folks in food and farming talk a lot about all the things farmers do to protect the environment – but often in somewhat general terms.

Here’s a real life example in Terry, a farmer and business owner from the Stouffville area.

I interviewed him this past summer for an article that I was writing and his story, to me, shows how relatively little things farmers are doing on their farms benefits all of society in the long run.

In Terry’s case, it was a protective liner he installed in a fertilizer storage to ensure a beautiful pond on his property stays beautiful – and clean.

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One of Terry Reesor’s favourite spots in the world is the small lake on his family’s farm near Stouffville, Ontario.

The body of water is located quite close to their farm supply business, Reesor Seed and Grain and the associated liquid fertilizer storage (see photo at right).

Reesor has always carefully monitored the storage and handling of the product to ensure the environment and the watershed was protected, but wanted to do more.

The answer was a secondary containment system for liquid fertilizer storages, consisting of a membrane liner that was installed underneath the storage tanks to protect against leaks.

Installing the liner (see photo at left) also ensured that Reesor was able to maintain his insurance coverage, as he had been told it will become more difficult to secure coverage for storages without secondary containment in place.

To complete the project, Reesor was able to obtain cost-share funding through the Canada-Ontario Farm Stewardship Program (COFSP) and the Lake Simcoe Farm Stewardship Program (LSFSP).

The two programs combined for a total 75 per cent cost share, which Reesor was very grateful to receive.

“We were really glad to access funding for this project. This is an entirely out of pocket expense that there’s no direct economic payback from so these kinds of costs are harder to bite off as a farm business,” he explains. “But it’s important to do the right thing. Everyone thinks they’re fine and that they’re careful until they have a problem. “

The LSFSP, a program funded in part by the Government of Ontario and Environment Canada and administered by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA), provides enhanced cost-share funding opportunities for farmers in the Lake Simcoe watershed as part of government’s commitment to protect and restore the health of Lake Simcoe.

Secondary containment for liquid fertilizer storage tanks is not yet required by law.

However, Reesor says the Ontario Agri Business Association, which represents country grain elevators, feed manufacturing facilities and crop input supply businesses across the province, has been pushing its members towards implementation, a move he calls tough but reasonable.

If the industry doesn’t police itself, he believes, it will be up to the government to do it.

“I  think anyone storing liquid fertilizer would want secondary containment,” he says. “How can you argue that clean water is not important?”

Reesor Seed and Grain is a family-owned business in Durham Region that specializes in custom crop protection application, seed sales and grain storage and marketing.

In addition to their farm supply business in Stouffville and grain elevator in Port Perry, the Reesors also crop 1,300 acres of their own corn, beans and wheat.

Terry pictured in front of his fertilizer storage

All photos courtesy of Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association

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