Green funding welcomed by farm groups, but CCA urges ongoing consultation

As the federal government releases its first budget in two years, the national association representing beef producers welcomes the budget as “a starting place for economic recovery discussions.” 

“With enabling supports and strategic investments, the agri-food sector has the potential to come out of the pandemic stronger than ever and help Canada in its fight against climate change,” says Bob Lowe, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) president, in a release. The CCA encourages the federal government to “continue consulting with the agriculture sector, including the beef industry, as details of these new policies, programs and funding opportunities are finalized,” Lowe adds. 

The budget, released April 19, directs most new spending over the next three years to “green growth,” D.C. Fraser reports. It funnels some of the proceeds collected through carbon taxing to producers in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario, provinces that are currently under the federal carbon tax system. In the first year, farmers are expected to receive about $100 million, with more expected in subsequent years as the carbon tax rises.  

The green spending promotes practices such as rotational grazing, cover cropping and improved nitrogen management. It specifically includes the following programs: 

  • $25 million over three years to the Agricultural Clean Technology program. 
  • $50 million for the purchase of more efficient grain dryers to farmers. 
  • $200 million over two years to the Agricultural Climate Solutions program. 
  • $60 million over two years to the Nature Smart Climate Solutions fund to protect wetlands and trees on farms. 
  • $67.2 million over seven years to implement and administer Canada’s Clean Fuel Standard. 

Both the Canadian Forage and Grasslands Association (CFGA) and Farmers for Climate Solutions noted in separate releases that the federal budget responds to recommendations from a Farmers for Climate Solutions report. 

“The CFGA played a central role in developing the budget ask from Farmers for Climate Solutions and we are pleased with the news of the investment of $185-million per year over two years,” says CFGA Chair Chris Martin. “Grazing management, cover cropping and nitrogen management all directly touch the forage and grassland sector so this is particularly exciting news for those of us in the industry.” 

Farmers for Climate Solutions stated that the investment will not only give farmers more opportunities “to be part of Canada’s climate solution,” but also benefit Canadians through “healthier air, water and soil.” 

“Our national and international customers want us to grow food more sustainably, and with only nine seasons left to achieve Canada’s 2030 target under the Paris Agreement, this investment will support farmers across the country to scale-up practices that are proven to reduce our sector’s emissions,” said Ian McCreary, grain and livestock farmer in Saskatchewan, who is also part of Farmers for Climate Solutions. “Climate change poses the single largest threat to our sector, and this investment is an imperative for our ongoing success.” 

The CCA notes the beef industry is leading sustainability initiatives through its 2030 goals.

“CCA is pleased the Liberal government recognizes in Budget 2021 that traditional economic sectors, including agriculture, will lead the new sustainable economy. The economic viability of producers is essential as is the need for a stable food supply, which has been strongly emphasized during the pandemic,” says Lowe. 

But the CCA also says that it’s important for the government to include farmers and ranchers in discussions to avoid unintended consequences such as grasslands losses. 

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