Continued funding needed to help agriculture achieve GHG potential
Regina, Sask. March 2, 2005:
Soil Conservation Council of Canada (SCCC) says agriculture has untapped potential to help Canada reach greenhouse gas emission targets under the Kyoto Protocol, but needs aggressive funding to do that.
The continued funding of education and demonstration projects is needed to maintain the momentum of a concerned grassroots movement in Canada's agriculture industry, which has been building over the past three years, says Doug McKell, SCCC executive director.
"With the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol in mid-February, emphasis on the impact of fossil fuels and a need to protect soil, air and water quality, it is important to maintain funding," says McKell. "Agriculture can make an important contribution in helping Canada reach its commitments for greenhouse gas reductions as called for under the Kyoto Protocol. But further investment in education, research, awareness and producer participation is needed to develop and promote environmentally-sound and sustainable farming systems."
SCCC is urging the federal government to renew funding of the Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Program for Canadian Agriculture (GHGMP). The initial $15 million program launched in 2003 is set to expire in March 2006. The program, through hundreds of awareness and demonstration projects across the country, has demonstrated beneficial farming practices to over 30,000 farmers per year. These practices not only improve production efficiency, but reduce emissions of harmful greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.
"For three years, there has been a grassroots movement among Canadian producer organizations to doing something about greenhouse gasses," says McKell. "As strong as that movement is, continued funding is needed to carry the program to the next level."
SCCC is a key player in this movement, having built a national network of producer, industry, research and government organizations to deliver the education and demonstration program.
McKell points to the solid foundation that has been built to deliver the important environmental message. Under the auspices of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada initiatives such as the Agriculture Policy Framework (APF), the BIOCAP Canada Foundation, the Climate Change Action Plan 2000 (CCAP) and the GHGMP, all focus on promoting sustainable agricultural practices that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
"But surveys show only about 25 percent of producers are aware of the climate change issue and how they can contribute to the solution. This is a clear indicator that more work is yet to be done," says McKell.
While modern agriculture practices are only one part of the greenhouse gas equation, improved production practices can help the industry do its part to reduce overall emissions. The recent BIOCAP Canada Foundation conference in Ottawa outlined that through agricultural activities which sequester, reduce and complement fossil fuels, a potential of 20 Mt, 12 Mt and 40 Mt of carbon dioxide respectively, could be contributed towards reducing Canada’s overall commitment for greenhouse gas reduction under the Kyoto Protocol.
"The strong focus on finding technology solutions for the fossil fuel industry is overshadowing the potential of the agriculture industry to do its part," says McKell. "Agriculture can contribute to reduced greenhouse gas emissions, but this cannot be done without continued investment and the participation of producers across the country.
"With March 2006 fast approaching, the agriculture industry needs a commitment now to continue the momentum created behind the current program, so that agriculture can reach its full potential on this important environmental issue," he says.
For more information, contact:
Doug McKell, P.Ag.
Executive Director, SCCC
Ph.: (306) 695-4212