Canadian farmers have long been making significant commitments to soil carbon sequestration. A recent report by the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute (CAPI) demonstrates that the Canadian agriculture sector can be a source of solutions to climate change. It shows we need a science policy interface that is working effectively to enhance carbon sequestration in croplands.
Adopting climate-smart farming practices could not only put Canadian farmers at a distinct advantage but also build the sector’s resilience to climate change. To achieve this potential, policies and programs must enable and encourage producers to adopt best management practices. Barriers to adoption include risk and uncertainty associated with introducing new practices, high upfront costs, and environmental constraints.
Canadian farmers have already proven themselves ready to tackle such changes as they moved to direct seeding and conversation tillage en masse in the 1990s. This is why it is crucial to include and engage producers in policy design, evidence of return on investment, policy and regulatory certainty, and access to affordable and effective measurement and monitoring tools and technologies. It should not penalize those who have been making the conversion through conservation tillage over a long time or conversely cause them to do harm to a good record so they start from a new “low” level.
More must be done to elevate better policies’ role in increasing carbon sequestration in Canadian cropland. Increased collaborative opportunities will lead to policy and market design innovations and enhance carbon sequestration approaches’ adoption. In addition, a strong call is being made to strengthen investment in research and infrastructure to increase and measure carbon storage across climatic conditions.
The challenge is that farmer voices and preferences are often forgotten during policy implementation. Farmers depend on sound climate-smart approaches that improve agricultural productivity across the crop, livestock, and fisheries value chains. As they adapt to climatic changes, awareness of the options and the institutional support to make climate-smart choices will be a critical enabler for adopting climate-smart practices.
The best way to support farmers to become more efficient and climate-resilient is by developing and deploying tailored solutions for each region, led by farmers and farm groups. The Government has already allocated an investment of $185 million over the next ten years for the new Agricultural Climate Solutions (ACS) program. The program allows researchers, farmers, and other groups to work closely together and test their ideas on the farm to evaluate them in real-world circumstances to achieve meaningful results. Together, farmers, researchers, and other groups will develop and share management practices that best store carbon and mitigate climate change.
Government has a crucial role in fostering and incentivizing farm management firms and financing services to help farmers implement climate-smart solutions.