Agriculture has Answers to the Climate Change Challenge

Agriculture has Answers to the Climate Change Challenge

Recent announcements by the federal government have indicated their intention to increase the carbon tax to $170/tonne by 2030 to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This tax not only puts the viability of Saskatchewan farms at risk but actually taxes the solution to climate change.

Modern farming practices have changed the game in terms of environmental impact. Over the last 30 years, there has been significant movement towards land management practices that have positively influenced soil quality. Most notably these include the adoption of direct seeding, reduction in frequency of summer fallow and use of less intensive soil cultivation equipment.

SaskCanola has supported research to demonstrate the positive impact of modern agriculture on soil health and the environment. One such study is the Prairie Soil Carbon Balance Project (PSCBP) which analyzed thousands of soil samples over a 15-year period on farms across the province. 

High soil carbon is an indicator of soil health and a measure of carbon dioxide (CO2) removed from the atmosphere. The PSCBP study found soil carbon is increasing (reducing GHG levels). Saskatchewan growers using minimum or zero till (direct seeding) are sequestering 8.75 million new tons of CO2 every year on more than 23 million acres of farmland. This is the equivalent of taking 1.83 million cars off the road. 

The research also found that soil carbon sequestration does NOT decline over time as previously thought. Instead, carbon continues to accumulate deeper into the soil year after year. This finding is significant because maintaining and increasing soil sinks that sequester large amounts of GHGs is one of the most important long-term solutions to climate change identified by the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement. 

The conclusion? The food that farmers produce is a major contributor to Canadian exports, the economy and an effective strategy for sequestering carbon and removing GHGs from the atmosphere. 

In farming, profits are generally narrow with capital tied up in land, equipment and other investments. Any increase to the cost of production directly affects farmers ability to have a profitable business and provide Canadians and others around the world with food. The carbon tax is having a negative impact on farm businesses and farmers’ ability to care for our environment. It significantly increases ALL costs associated with growing food including fuel costs to run equipment, energy for drying grain, costs of crop inputs – and much more.

Ultimately, the federal carbon tax will have the opposite of its intended effect and inhibit the Ag sector’s ability to contribute to improving the environment by driving farms out of business. SaskCanola believes that it penalizes Saskatchewan canola producers who are part of the climate change solution – not the problem. 

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