National | Media Release

No strategy for ag emissions reduction, says environment commissioner, NFU points to a solution

SASKATOON, SK—Today’s Report by Canada’s Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Jerry DeMarco, contains a stark assessment: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) has “yet to develop a strategy for how it would contribute to Canada’s 2030 and 2050 greenhouse gas mitigation and sequestration goals.”  The Report continues: “Without a strategy to provide the sector with a long-term vision and direction, the department’s path to help achieve Canada’s 2030 and 2050 goals remains unclear.”
The Report acknowledges AAFC programs that may begin to reduce emissions—such as the On-Farm Climate Action Fund (OFCAF)—but states that “the department’s delays in funding approvals resulted in recipients missing a growing season, which limited the greenhouse gas reduction results achieved by January 2024. In addition, 2 of the 3 programs had not yet set or finalized all of their performance targets for climate change mitigation. … Setting targets and tracking results [is] important.”

The Commissioner’s report also notes significant and probably continuing increases in agricultural emissions: up 39% between 1990 and 2021.  

NFU Director of Climate Crisis Policy and Action, Darrin Qualman, commented on the Commissioner’s findings and provided some context for the Report. First, he noted a strong desire among farmers to do more. Many government programs, such as OFCAF, are oversubscribed. Many agricultural sectors are developing ambitious emission-reduction plans of their own. “Farmers want to do more,” says Qualman, “but they need more support and direction from government.” The Commissioner is making much the same point.

Qualman also noted eagerness among many AAFC staff to move ahead with emissions reduction. The OFCAF program is one example. Another is the Sustainable Agricultural Strategy (SAS).  Over the past year-and-a-half, the NFU has been one of twenty-one organizations convened by AAFC to form the Sustainable Agriculture Strategy Advisory Committee (SAS-AC). “At the SAS-AC table,” says Qualman, “we consistently see AAFC representatives eager to find ways to increase sustainability and decrease emissions.” Despite this, action is inadequate and emissions are increasing.
Qualman points to a solution: “The federal government, in continuing consultation with farmers, needs to finalize a strong, clear Sustainable Agriculture Strategy; that strategy needs to contain ambitious emission-reduction targets and plans; AAFC needs to release that strategy soon—before harvest; and they need to show farmers they’re serious by allocating significant funding for effective programs to reduce emissions, speed adaptation, and build resilience.”  

He concludes: “The Sustainable Ag Strategy is ‘in the pipe.’ Rapid completion and release coupled with significant funding and support for farmers will go a long way to remedying the problems highlighted in this Report by the Commissioner of the Environment.”


For more information:
Darrin Qualman, Director of Climate Crisis Policy and Action: