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

Denis Boutin, agricultural economist, M.Sc.
Ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement et des Parcs (MDDEP)


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 intensify 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, has led to the implementation of new measures and requirements favouring the integration of sustainable development principles in pig farming. These changes were legitimized by extensive public consultations conducted by a specialized 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.

Complete version (PDF file, 122 Ko)

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