National Newswatch

Agriculture can help achieve climate change goals.


Ottawa—When it comes to the agrifood sector, the federal government talks a good game but doesn’t deliver well, says Ontario Senator Robert Black.

“The government frequently speaks about its commitment to agriculture, yet the sector never seems to make the cut into their top priorities,” he said. “While agriculture continues to be a driving force in Canada, this government has continued to neglect the sector by failing to mention agriculture in the Speech from the Throne in both 2019 and 2020.”

Black’s remarks came six weeks after this year’s policy-setting Speech was delivered, a delay caused by procedural issues and not any reticence on the Senator’s part. Calling the neglect unfathomable, he said, agriculture showed its mettle during the pandemic. “Furthermore, agriculture is intrinsically connected to so many other areas, including climate change and the environment, the economy, natural resources, international trade, intergovernmental relations, rural economic development, health, innovation, industry, transport and much more.

“It is evident that agriculture can truly be a driver of the Canadian economy and can help us recover after this pandemic, but only if we allow it. To do so, this government must prioritize agriculture both now and into the future. I can only hope that the government sees this opportunity and utilizes it to the advantage of all Canadians.”

Recent trade agreements have harmed supply-managed sectors of the agrifood industry yet they “have still not received all of the compensation that they were promised by the government in exchange for them losing some of their markets,” he said.

Faster action is needed on interprovincial trade barriers to full, free internal trade. “The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of domestic trade relationships, and it is my hope that the government will move swiftly to address this issue.”

Agriculture can also help the government meet its climate change goals, he said. “There are many ways in which climate change affects agriculture. There are also many ways — from carbon sequestration to urban farming — in which agriculture will be a crucial part in the fight against climate change. Across the agricultural industry, producers and processors have already been working hard to adopt sustainable practices and emissions. That said, they will need government support to further employ innovative farming methods, maintain soil-friendly practices and ultimately change the way agriculture has operated for decades.”

The agrifood sector has show its resiliency and adaptability over the years, he said. “In spite of tough times, I truly believe that agriculture can come out of this crisis stronger than ever, and that agriculture can be the economic driver to help Canada through this pandemic. Despite its many downsides, the pandemic has given us all reason to re-examine our priorities, develop back-up plans and ensure that we’re ready for anything.”

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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