National Newswatch

Governments can help by encouraging programs.

Ottawa—With the country-wide protests against climate change still fresh in peoples’ minds and election day drawing closer, Grain Growers of Canada (GGC) has issued a timely reminder of the role agriculture could be playing in reducing carbon emissions.

GGC Chairman Jeff Nielsen said, “Agriculture is part of the climate change solution. The land is our livelihood and, as stewards of the land, we are committed to using the best practices possible to protect the environment for all Canadians.”

As numerous recent reports have demonstrated, agriculture has made great strides in reducing its carbon footprint. Nielsen said the party leaders need to commit to creating conditions that ensure the sustainable success of the agricultural sector.

“Through environmental stewardship we have been successful in boosting Canada’s bottom line while respecting the land that supports us,” he said. “Initiatives like conservation-tillage and 4R stewardship are critical elements of modern agriculture because they balance the need to grow food more efficiently with the need to reduce GHG emissions.

“The important work in reducing GHG emissions has begun and GGC members are confident that they can make an even bigger difference with a willing partner.”

A study released by the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute and other recent reports have spelled out the progress Canadian farmers have made in reducing carbon emissions and making their operations more sustainable.

Nielsen said there are other steps the federal government could take to help the process along.

One would be to make sure the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) operates with science-based regulations that help not hinder agriculture.

The government could also increase the amount of Canadian crops used in transportation fuels “as a way to create market diversification opportunities while also realizing reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

“We will continue to adopt more efficient methods to use less fuel and protect our valuable crops; however, our government must ensure that all regulations take into account the needs of running a modern grain farm,” he said.

Grain farmers have adopted several underappreciated methods to reduce their environmental footprint, he said. “These include a reduction in soil tillage in order to conserve moisture and the adoption of precision agriculture technology which maximizes efficiency and requires less fuel. In fact, fewer passes over farm fields has led to an annual reduction of over 170 million litres in on-farm fuel use.”

Another positive step has been adoption of 4R nutrient stewardship practices developed by Fertilizer Canada. Nielsen said these innovative techniques “have become the standard for proper nutrient management in Canada because of their steadfast principles to using the right fertilizer at the right rate – at the right time and in the right place.”

Canola growers have committed to utilizing 4R nutrient stewardship practices on 90 per cent of their total acres by 2025, he said. Manitoba’s corn growers have also funded a 4R Fertilizer Managements Survey that engages their members on the current state of fertilizer management practices on Canadian grain corn farms. Other Canadian crops show similar levels of improvement through adherence to 4R and programs to support farmer adoption are being rolled out nationwide.”

Alex Binkley is a freelance journalist and writes for domestic and international publications about agriculture, food and transportation issues. He’s also the author of two science fiction novels with more in the works.
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