Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau is opening a round of consultation on sustainable farm policy, aimed at working with industry partners to build a climate-resilient food system.
The new Sustainable Agriculture Strategy “will serve as a guide to support the livelihoods of farmers while growing a sustainable sector,”. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) declared in a release. “By identifying goals and a way forward, Canada’s agriculture sector will be equipped to recover quickly from extreme events, thrive in a changing climate, contribute to world food security, while also contributing to Canada’s overall efforts to cut emissions.”
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Canada’s farm sector is being affected by climate change through increasingly frequent and more extreme weather, new vulnerabilities to pests and diseases, and other environmental issues that threaten food production and damage crops and livestock. After releasing the document, Bibeau said the consultations would lead into a policy that she aims to publish by the end of 2023.
“We must help Canadian farmers keep building their resilience to climate change,” she said. “We need to sit down together and develop a roadmap that will keep us on track to meet our environment and climate goals.”
The Sustainable Agriculture Strategy was formerly referred to as the Green Agricultural Plan and was highlighted in Canada’s 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan. An advisory committee, to be co-chaired by AAFC and the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA), is meant to ensure continuous dialogue with stakeholders in the sector. The strategy will be separate from the Agriculture Policy Framework that steers Canadian farm funding and policy when federal, provincial, and territorial ministers renegotiate it every five years, says Real Agriculture.
Asked how the strategy might influence future regulation or legislation, Bibeau said the intent is to work collaboratively and offer “incentives to encourage farmers who have not already adopted all the good practices to jump in and… adopt good practices.”
The discussion document lays out seven guiding principles for the strategy, with emphasis on addressing the needs of farmers and ensuring coordination and communication with industry stakeholders. They also point to new measures to ensure traceability and accountability and support reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.
The emphasis on consultation and collaboration is likely a response to the pushback Ottawa received in response to the fertilizer emissions reduction target in the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan, iPolitics reports.
“It is our hope that this is the beginning of a long-term forum,” CFA President Mary Robinson told reporters, adding she was encouraged by the announcement of the advisory panel. “Nothing is easy anymore, and we have many balls to juggle in this fight, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be trying to do it.”
The advisory panel include representatives of Grain Growers of Canada, National Farmers Union, Canadian Cattle Association, Canadian Pork Council, Dairy Farmers of Canada, Canola Council of Canada, Canadian Canola Growers Association, Egg Farmers of Canada, Soy Canada, Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute, Fruit & Vegetable Growers of Canada, Farmers for Climate Solutions, Fertilizer Canada, Canadian Wildlife Federation, Canola Council of Canada, Chicken Farmers of Canada, Dairy Farmers of Canada, Union de producteurs agricoles, Ducks Unlimited, Canadian Organic Growers, and Nature United.