NDP introduces soil health bill

Bill C-290 proposes to rebuild soil capacity

“Healthy soils are the foundation of sustainable food production, enhanced biodiversity and cleaner air and water for present and future generations.” – MP Alistair MacGregor.

A bill being introduced by the NDP vows to help fight food insecurity and support farmers. 

MP and NDP agriculture critic Alistair MacGregor introduced a private member’s bill to create a National Soil Health Strategy for Canada.

Why it matters: A bill to promote soil conservation could help rebuild soils by giving farmers new tools, but with few details available, it is not known if the new measures would bring more regulations and added costs for farmers.

The proposed law would help maintain, enhance and rebuild the capacity of soils, according to the NDP. 

Healthy soils are the foundation of sustainable food production, enhanced biodiversity and cleaner air and water for present and future generations. Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast depend on our ability to produce good food to keep themselves, their families and the environment healthy,” said MacGregor in a statement. 

The strategy would also have reporting requirements tied to it.

Beyond encouraging farmers and other land-users to use best-practices, MacGregor’s bill would create the office of a National Soil Health Advocate and a “National Soil Conservation Week.”

The soil week would be on the third week of April each year. (National Soil Conservation Week already takes place, but this would give it federal recognition). 

“Farmers are on the front line of the fight against climate change — few feel the impacts of our ever-changing weather systems more than they do,” said MacGregor. “This bill is about ensuring they have the tools they need to keep doing their jobs to the best of their ability. When we support our farmers and food producers, Canadians see the benefits in healthy food and a safer, greener environment.”

Karen Ross, director of Farmers for Climate Solutions, said in a statement that practices to enhance soil health are fundamental to the future of farming. 

Bill C-290, an act respecting soil conservation and soil health, was first read in the House of Commons on April 26. 

Private member’s bills are seldom passed into law, although some agriculture-based bills have got to the committee stage due to the Liberal’s minority government.

About the author

Reporter

D.C. Fraser

D.C. Fraser is Glacier FarmMedia’s Ottawa-based reporter. Growing up mostly in Alberta, Fraser also lived in Saskatchewan for ten years where he covered politics, including a stint teaching at the University of Regina’s School of Journalism. He is an avid fan of the outdoors and a pretty good beer league hockey player. His passion for agriculture and agri-food policy comes naturally: Six consecutive generations of his family have worked in the industry.

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