Farmers for Climate Solutions’ Agricultural Policy Framework Campaign

Canada’s Agricultural Policy Framework (APF) is a 5-year investment made by federal, provincial and territorial governments to develop Canada’s agricultural sector. The government consults with Canadians during the framework’s developments, from stakeholders to youth, to assess the desired outcomes of the policies and programs to be implemented. The next APF will be launched in 2023, with the multilateral government agreement taking place on July 20, 2022. 

The APF is a critical tool in fighting the climate crisis. Last year, Farmers for Climate Solutions (FCS) put together a farmer-led team of experts to identify the most cost-effective and significant ways that the Canadian government can reduce agricultural emissions. This ambitious, system-wide approach is critical to both make a meaningful contribution to achieving Canada’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 as well as ensure that farmers from equity-deserving groups have access to the programs and support they need.

FCS has devised a roadmap to reaching a 14% reduction in emissions through 5 key policy options: a cost-share program to support better farm-level nitrogen management, a subsidy program to improve manure management, best management practices (BMPs) to improve herd and soil health, a per-acre payment system to support soil management practices that reduce the need for synthetic nitrogen fertilizer and increase soil carbon sequestration, and BMPs to protect wetlands and trees from conversion to cropland. 

Nitrogen Management

Nitrogen emissions are the fastest growing source of emissions. The government of Canada has set a target of a 30% absolute reduction in nitrogen emissions by 2030. Supporting the adoption of BMPs to manage synthetic nitrogen fertilizer would result in a reduction in nitrogen-related emissions of 33% below current levels by 2030. 

With the skyrocketing cost of fertilizer, new BMPs for nitrogen use could save farmers money and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

Manure Storage and Handling

Managing manure is a cost-effective opportunity for emissions reduction. BMPs targeted at reducing emissions from liquid manure systems could be supported by a subsidy program to cover the cost for every producer of liquid manure during the next APF period. By simply covering up manure storage containers or acidifying liquid manure, Canadian farms can reduce their climate emissions by up to 2.2 megatonnes.

Livestock Management

The methane emissions that come from ruminant livestock are the largest single source of emissions in Canadian agriculture, with cattle accounting for the very large majority of enteric emissions. Improving the diet of livestock can not only dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it can also lead to faster growth, better animal health and better reproductive success, all of which lower the emissions of the animal products produced.

Practices like increasing legumes in pastures, rotational grazing, and extending the period of time when animals are on pastures can greatly reduce emissions.

Soil Management

BMPs for better soil management can help mitigate climate change by reducing the need for synthetic nitrogen fertilizer and increasing soil carbon sequestration. When farmers adopt alternative practices to plowing their fields, like growing cover crops and intercropping, the soil takes in CO2 from the atmosphere instead of contributing to emissions.

Wetland and Tree Management

Both trees and wetlands act as extremely important carbon sinks – sequestering carbon from the atmosphere and reducing emissions. Agricultural development can not only destroy these carbon sinks but emit huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. BMPs like alley cropping and wetland restoration can help keep these carbon sinks actively helping to reduce emissions.

Taking Action

Ontario’s agri-food sector is not only a key player in fighting the global climate crisis, but it is dependent on it.
That’s why we need our MPPs to support policies that will strengthen Ontario’s agri-food sector. Visit FCS’ official website for a pre-written email to your provincial Minister of Agriculture letting them know you want to see these recommendations in the next APF and for other ways that you can take action today!

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