Ministerial Mandate Letter Signals Clear Commitment to Help Support Farmers in the Climate Crisis

On December 16, 2021 the Government of Canada released ministerial mandate letters. The letters commonly released following an election are intended to help direct cabinet ministers on government strategy and policy priorities. From these letters cabinet ministers direct resources and priorities within their own departments, the letters are a clear signal to Canadians on what they can expect to see from their government. Amidst the letters released last week was the eagerly awaited mandate letter for Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister for Agriculture and Agri-food Canada.

For the past year OCO has increased our advocacy work as an organization and in connection with the coalition Farmers for Climate Solutions. As an organization, we recognize that farmers are on the frontlines of the climate crisis and that organic producers have long utilized practises that emphasize biodiversity and soil health and can help mitigate the effects we’ve seen from the climate crisis.

With this in mind, the Organic Council of Ontario (OCO) applauds the federal government’s emphasis in the letter on the importance of helping producers weather the climate crisis, a force with increasingly devasting effects on our agricultural systems. The letter included a number of notable passages including directing the minister to:

“As part of a green agricultural plan for Canada, increase support to farmers to develop and adopt agricultural management practices to reduce emissions, store carbon in healthy soil and enhance resiliency; triple funding for clean tech on farms, including for renewable energy, precision agriculture and energy efficiency; and work with farmers and stakeholders to reduce methane and fertilizer emissions in the agricultural sector.” The letter went on to direct the minister to:

Working with provincial and territorial governments, develop the next agricultural policy framework to continue to support the sustainable economic growth of the agriculture and agri-food sector, ensuring climate action and resilience are core to the framework” and further…

“Work with provinces and territories to update business risk management programs, including to integrate climate risk management, environmental practices and climate readiness. Ensure that producers, including Indigenous, young and women farmers, have the opportunity to contribute.’

From an organic standpoint OCO was pleased to see the government “promote alternative pest management approaches that reduce the need for chemical pesticides.”

These commitments represent an important stepping stone in realizing the policy positions that OCO has been putting forward in our advocacy in conjunction with the Coalition Farmers for Climate Solutions. Farmers, organic and conventional alike are disproportionately affected by the climate crisis and need critical support to help protect our food system and collectively seek to reduce on-farm emissions.

To read the whole letter follow the link here

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