Canadian agriculture occupies a large and important part of the Canadian environment. The farm community is the chief steward and manager of extensive natural resources, owner and architect of much of the landscape and protector of a precious soil resource. In its concern for the environmental fabric of Canada, CFA believes that great importance should be placed on measures of environmental management to ensure maintenance of land resources which provide food for the people of Canada and a large part of the world’s population.
There is a growing awareness in Canada of the relationship between agricultural production and environmental issues. As stewards of the land, Canadian farmers are aware of their responsibilities to the environment and are taking positive steps to ensure the environmental sustainability of their industry.
CFA emphasizes that farmers need:
- Recognition for their role and accomplishments in environmental stewardship
- Support for climate change research and tools to foster resiliency and adaptation
- Ensuring ongoing competitiveness of Canadian agricultural products in a world market
- A national bioeconomy strategy to support the development of sustainable products and supply chains
- Investments that support continuous improvement in sustainable Canadian agricultural production
Addressing competitiveness challenges of carbon pricing
There is some concern regarding ongoing competitiveness when Canadian producers will face higher costs for inputs due to carbon pricing. While much of this action and policy making is being led at the provincial and territorial level, some issues such as policy consistency across provinces are of a federal interest. If producers are not compensated for or receive exemptions on crucial inputs such as diesel fuel, fertilizers, crop protection products and others, Canadian products will become less competitive internationally. Many of our competitors such as Australia and the U.S.A. have no plans to institute carbon pricing and most of Canada’s agricultural exports’ are priced globally.
Ensuring that revenues from carbon prices benefit agricultural producers through funding clean technology, research and innovation, adaptation and resilience building measures and compensating for higher inputs costs is absolutely crucial. Yet so is ensuring that producers can benefit from carbon pricing by receiving compensation through offset protocols for carbon sequestration, or significant reductions in nitrous oxide emissions. While agri-environmental conditions are different across Canada, it is important that incentives are available for all producers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The greenhouse sector as a user of CO2 in production requires close consideration in order to support ongoing production in Canada.
Investing in Sustainability
Canadian agricultural producers are already some of the most sustainable producers in the world with innovations and best practices voluntarily in place on many farms. These include no-till, biodigesters, nitrogen emission reduction protocols, supply chain sustainability schemes, and Environmental Farm Plans to identify environmental risk. Not to mention the agricultural products many produce that find application as energy, industrial and consumer products.
However, investing in some of the technologies that boost environmental sustainability for producers is difficult as they require large upfront costs that do not currently make the economics worthwhile. Improvements in sustainability could be incentivized with investments in ecological goods and services, including for carbon offsetting and increasing the availability of funding for Beneficial Management Plans (BMPs).