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Farmers: we’re a step ahead on climate change policy

Farmers: we’re a step ahead on climate change policy

Farmers are taking significant measures to control the outcome of climate change legislation.

For one, they’ve given the job to professionals. Farmers decide on their priorities, set their lobbyists in motion, then go back to farming and see what happens.

Usually, the process is slow to yield results. But last week, they claimed a victory.

Their Ottawa-based lobby group, Farmers for Climate Solutions, jubilantly announced that the so-called “Guelph Statement,” released November 11 following the Guelph-based meeting of the federal, provincial and territorial ministers of agriculture, was just what they’d hoped for.

“Guess what?” said the group rhetorically in a news release, “priority #1 (for the ministers) is action on climate change!”

No wonder the group is happy. The statement is the public-facing official document meant to declare priorities to guide the agriculture sector’s policy framework until 2028.The ranking sticks.

And it does indeed speak to the fact that one of Canada’s top jobs related to agriculture is “tackling climate change and environmental protection to support greenhouse gas emission reductions and the long-term vitality of the sector, while positioning producers and processors to seize economic opportunities from evolving consumer demands.”

The lobby group goes on to note how climate is a part of other priorities, too, which include research, market development and public trust. And it rightly notes that climate change “is not an isolated crisis, and its impacts are felt across various areas.”

For that reason, it says, it advocates for a comprehensive approach to climate action:“We simply cannot tackle the larger issue of climate change without addressing its interconnected parts.”

Farmers have read the tea leaves on this issue. The global citizenry is making a clear statement about prioritizing climate change, culminating most lately in the streets of Glasgow, Scotland, where world leaders have been meeting to figure out how to take action on this issue.

Farmers for Climate Solutions are a step ahead. Heading into the Guelph meeting, the group said the framework for a climate-focused agri-food policy that meets the mounting challenge of climate change must have clear targets.

It must be committed to reducing emissions by supporting farmers to adopt climat-friendly e practices.

As well, it must be grounded in resilience by adapting risk-management programs to reward climate-friendly agriculture.

And finally, it needs funding dedicated to climate adaptation and mitigation

The Guelph Statement proves decision makers were listening. Now, farmers need to work the Guelph Statement to their advantage with the public, decision makers, importers and whoever else needs to know climate change is a priority here.

It’s an opportunity to capitalize on producers’ down-home image that, judging by the aw-shucks photo on Farmers for Climate Solutions’ landing page, this group doesn’t mind promoting.

“The Guelph Statement is a hopeful step in the right direction for the agriculture sector,” says the group. “It speaks to a lot of the priorities that (our group) has identified. If we are to achieve this bold and ambitious vision to 2028, we need to take a proactive approach to tackling the climate crisis. Farmer livelihoods and the resiliency of our food supply depends on this.”

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