Prairie Post (East Edition)
Commissions provide feedback on the National Federal fertilizer emission targets consultation
The Government of Canada’s announced a proposed national target in the “A Healthy Environment and Healthy Economy” plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fertilizer application by 30 per cent below 2020 levels by 2030.
With this significant federal government announcement, the Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions understand that any such target is of substantial concern to our farmers. Farmers’ frustrations stem from how such an aggressive target is to be met within a short period of time without having significant impact on yields, economics, and Canada’s ability to remain competitive in global markets.
The commissions submitted a comprehensive response to the consultation on August 31, 2022, highlighting serious concerns that an ill-conceived and unachievable target will set farmers up for failure. In summary, the commissions called on the government to consider the following six recommendations:
• Based on emission intensity: Any national emission reduction target must be based on emission intensity and consider emissions per unit of crop production to maintain growth; rather than absolute emissions that could have severe consequences for farmer competitiveness.
• Communications: Significantly improve communication with farmers regarding the objective of the target and its voluntary nature. Seek broad and frequent input from the agricultural community to define pathways toward achieving the goal that makes sense on-farm. Provide clear communication on what is to be measured and how.
• Keep the target voluntary and flexible: Given the data gaps and variability across all regions and with the sector, it is imperative that the target remain voluntary and that the federal government work with provincial governments and producer organizations to define the goals in provincial context. Flexibility must be allowed in attempting to meet the goal.
• Past and current practices: Farmers need to understand how the soil carbon sequestration on their farms from continuous improvement and voluntary adoption of various practices will be accounted for within emission reduction targets and how past and present practices, including research investments, are acknowledged.
• Methodology and measures: The government needs to ensure that any targeted practices; can be accounted for within the national methodology, are reflected in the National Inventory Reports, and are considered toward the reduction target.
• Regionality based on agroecological zones: A highly regional lens must be applied to achieving emission reductions and flexibility and adaptability to specific localized variables must be considered.