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Canada encourages farmers to adopt climate-smart practices

Canada's farmers on on the front lines of worsening climate impacts - so adopting best practices and climate-smart policies is the best way to become resilient.

24 March 2021, at 7:00am

The best way to build climate resiliency across Canadian agriculture’s diversity of realities and landscapes is by developing and deploying solutions that are tailored for each region, led by farmers and farm groups themselves.

The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, announced an investment of $185 million over the next 10 years for the new Agricultural Climate Solutions (ACS) program.

The ACS program aims to establish a strong, Canada-wide network of regional collaborations led by farmers and including scientists and other sectoral stakeholders. Together, they will develop and share management practices that best store carbon and mitigate climate change. This work will also help protect biodiversity, improve water and soil quality, and strengthen farmers’ bottom lines.

“Our government is working in partnership with farmers to develop and deploy the best practices that will fight climate change, protect our lands and waters, and deliver important economic benefits to farmers. With significant regional collaborations from coast-to-coast, Agricultural Climate Solutions puts farmers at the helm of steering Canadian agriculture towards a climate resilient future for the generations to come,” Minister Bibeau said.

To be eligible for the ACS program, applicants must form a large network of partnerships within a province, including with agricultural non-profits, Indigenous organizations and environmental groups.

The program will proceed in two phases. The first phase, which will launch 1 April, aims to support the development of proposals focused on regional collaboration hubs, also known as “Living Labs”, by offering grants of up to $100,000.

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The aim is for every province in Canada to have at least one collaboration hub. Each hub will centre on farms, where farmers and researchers can co-develop best practices, including cover crops, intercropping, conversion of marginal land to permanent cover, shelterbelts, nutrient management, and inclusion of pulses in rotations. Applicants will need to demonstrate their ability to engage with researchers and develop plans for knowledge transfer and adoption among their peers. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada will host regional information sessions over the coming weeks.

The program’s second phase will open as early as Fall 2021. At this stage, applicant groups can submit their applications for funding support of up to $10 million per project.

The ACS program is one of many important new initiatives being undertaken to promote environmental sustainability and resiliency in the agriculture sector, and is part of Canada’s Strengthened Climate Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030, and towards net-zero emissions by 2050.

Canada's Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Jonathan Wilkinson, said, “Canadian farmers are constantly innovating to make their practices more sustainable. That’s why the Government of Canada is pleased to be working with farmers across the country to continue that work by identifying and implementing on farm management practices that engage the power of nature-based solutions to cut carbon pollution and support biodiversity. Through programs like this one, which complements the Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund, we will create a stronger future – one that achieves Canadians’ environmental goals and economic hopes.”

Background information

  • The Agricultural Climate Solutions is based on an expanded model of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s “Living Labs” networks, already underway in Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and Prince Edward Island. The Living Labs model has been endorsed by the G20 as a model of innovation and collaborative research.
  • Eligible recipients within a collaboration may include not-for-profit organizations, such as producer organizations, and Indigenous groups.
  • The Government of Canada is investing more than $4 billion over the next 10 years (2021-2031) to establish a Natural Climate Solutions Fund and supporting activities to build a more resilient economy and a healthier, greener future with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Natural Resources Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada.
  • ACS is part of Canada’s $350-million investment over 10 years to help Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector meet our emission targets and capture new opportunities in the green economy.
  • The ACS program complements Environment and Climate Change Canada’s ten year $631 million Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund which will support projects to restore, enhance and conserve wetlands, peatlands, grasslands and forests to store and capture carbon and enable reporting. These ecosystems are also critically important habitat for Canada’s wildlife including migratory birds and species at risk.