As farms increase in size and intensity, agricultural pollution is gaining a new urgency in Canada. The response from most environmental groups from upper levels of government is generally to push for more centralized regulation. The effect has often been to disempower directly affected individuals and communities — with the perverse result of more rather than less agricultural pollution.

In Greener Pastures: Decentralizing the Regulation of Agricultural Pollution (published in 2007 by the University of Toronto Centre for Public Management), Environment Probe examines the environmental harm caused by provincial regulation — especially right-to-farm laws — and advocates returning decision-making authority to the local level.

Environment Probe is also a critic of agricultural subsidies — including programs that pay farmers not to pollute. Paying farmers not to pollute defies a widely accepted economic principle at the heart of environmental sustainability — the need to internalize the costs of pollution, or to make pollution prevention part of the cast of farming.

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