AG Canada no longer backs farming, backs wild prediction of future climate
OTTAWA — Agriculture Canada no longer appears to have the farmers’ backs.
That’s the word from an increasing number of Ontario crop farmers who are not happy that the federal department, with a stellar record of helping farmers increase production and decrease risks, is now shifting its priorities to follow a controversial climate change agenda.
The scientists at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada have been handed new priorities that centre on sustainable agriculture and climate change, states the department’s new Strategic Plan for Science, which was published in November, 2022.
Under the guidance of Ag Canada’s assistant deputy minister, Gilles Saindon, the strategic plan states: “One thing that is clear is that in the years ahead, Canada can expect more extreme weather events, higher than average temperatures, and changes in precipitation patterns that increase the risks of floods and droughts.”
The plan states that agriculture must “look for ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon sequestration on farms. To meet Canada’s target of net-zero emissions by 2050, AAFC must continue to invest in research and innovation, clean technologies, and climate adaptation and mitigation strategies, and build climate resiliency across the country.”
Unfortunately for Saindon, Ag Canada and farmers, the future of climate change is not clear as Canada bases its forecast on the wildest predictions of global warming from the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change that even the IPCC notes is its most extreme model and not likely to happen.
Prince Edward County farmer and Grain Farmers of Ontario director Lloyd Crowe said he was very upset about the change late last year and worries that Canada is going the way of the Netherlands, which is forcing 3,000 farmers to sell land or stop farming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “The mandates we see in other nations across the world are creating food security concerns. The policies here could do the same thing” he said, adding, “As if, $1,200-tonne fertilizer isn’t already an incentive to use less fertilizer.”
He doesn’t feel, as a farmer, that the current government is taking the time to understand the impact to Canada’s farms and to Canadians’ food. “They aren’t farmers, let’s face it, most people aren’t, but everyone relies on farms and farmers for food, and we need to keep our food system healthy. The federal government needs to talk to farmers to understand the realities of what we are already doing — and doing more of — as the most active caretakers of the land that Canada has.”
“Most farmers see that climate change is clearly a major priority for this government and I don’t think farmers in general are against doing things to fix climate change but we want to be involved in any of the processes so that these new strategies don’t harm us,” said Grain Farmers of Ontario director and Stormont County farmer Scott Fife. Specifically, GFO does not want the federal government to link risk management programs to sustainability or climate change goals, “especially production insurance, that is an intricate program that needfully supports farmers taking on risk and tying that together could impact food production”
While there is not a lot of opposition now, that could change when farmers see the roll out of programs under the Sustainable Canadian Ag Partnership, which is likely to begin later this year.
One farmer, who asked that he not be identified out of fear of reprisal, argued that you can’t work with the current federal government. “They don’t listen…Any time the government is involved they can’t run anything. They can’t run passport offices and they don’t know how to farm.”