A group of farmers is calling for the federal government to invest $300 million to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on farms.
Farmers for Climate Solutions says such an investment could reduce agricultural emissions by 10 million tonnes.
Why it matters: The federal government is currently working on creating its 2021 budget and there’s an expectation that agriculture could have opportunities relating to climate change mitigation.
“Most Canadians, and almost all supply chains, are asking for more sustainable food and farming,” said Ian McCreary, farmer in Saskatchewan and co-chair of the task force that came up with the recommendation.
“But as a farmer, what is troubling, is that our emissions in Canadian agriculture are steadily increasing.” McCreary also said that at the same time, farmers are on the front line from severe environmental events linked to climate change, to the tune of $2 billion in damages in 2018 alone.
A FCS-led task force made up of farmers, agricultural economists, climate scientsts and policy experts came up with the plan.
“Other Canadian sectors are being well supported to reduce emissions and reskill the labour force, but farmers are being left behind,” Arzeena Hamir, BC farmer and Task Force Co-Chair said. “Also, other countries are investing significantly more in farmers and ranchers to adopt climate-friendly practices. With only nine growing seasons left until the 2030 Paris Agreement target, now is the time to close the funding gap,” she said, adding that $300 million pales in comparison to the cost of ongoing environmental damage.
The task force proposed six programs to meet the 10 million tonnes reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
1. Doing more with less nitrogen by having agronomists and farmers work together to improve nitrogen management through a cost-share program.
2. Increasing adoption of cover cropping by supporting farmers to plant cover crops through a per-acre payment program.
3. Normalizing rotational grazing by supporting ranchers to implement rotational grazing through a cost-share program for planning and infrastructure.
4. Protecting wetlands and trees on working farms through a reverse auction pilot program to conserve existing forests and wetlands.
5. Powering farms with clean energy by transitioning on-farm energy beyond diesel through pilot programs.
6. Celebrating climate champions by shining a light on farmers who implement climate-friendly practices through an awards program and awareness campaigns.