Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada releases “What We Heard” report on fertilizer emissions reduction target and outlines collaborative approach with the sector

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Source: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Canadian farmers are on the front lines of climate change and are already taking action to improve resilience and enhance profitability while reducing emissions. The Government of Canada set a target to reduce fertilizer-related emissions, which led to consultations with the sector to gather feedback on how best to support farmers and producers through voluntary measures moving forward.

Over 2,000 submissions were received through the online consultation, technical workshops and town hall meetings between March and October 2022. Farmers, producers, industry associations, provinces and territories, scientists and environmental organizations provided their input. AAFC analyzed the valuable feedback, and today, published the Fertilizer Emissions Reduction Target Consultation What We Heard Report. The feedback will inform AAFC’s work, in collaboration with the sector, to meet Canada’s fertilizer emissions reduction target, of 30% from 2020 levels by 2030, and will unlock new economic opportunities.

The desire to increase communication and strengthen engagement between Government and the agricultural sector emerged through the consultation process. To this end, in partnership with industry, a Fertilizer Working Group is being formed under the Sustainable Agriculture Strategy Advisory Committee. As a co-chair of the Advisory Committee, AAFC will collaborate with this group to reach its objectives, which are to:

  • strengthen the ongoing dialogue between industry and government to share information, best practices and identify resources to reduce emissions from fertilizers
  • examine mechanisms that need further support, such as program funding and the adoption of beneficial management practices (BMP)
  • improve the measurement and tracking of fertilizer emissions reductions in the sector

The feedback received through the consultations will allow the Government of Canada to ensure that its programs are designed to support the adoption of beneficial management practices, implement clean technologies, as well adapt its research and innovation programs so that they are suitable for real-world application.

Canadian producers are experts at managing and protecting their land for future generations. They are already adapting to new growing conditions caused by climate change, and their ability to make a living depends on a healthy environment. AAFC looks forward to building on the good work already underway in the agriculture sector to support Canada’s environmental and economic goals, while feeding a growing world population.

Quotes

“Our government continues to support the agricultural sector’s efforts to become more and more sustainable by investing in practices that are effective in reducing emissions and regenerating soil. I want to thank everyone who participated in the consultation process. Your feedback will contribute to how we reach our ambitious target and ensure the sector’s success.”

– The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

“CFA is pleased to see the What We Heard Report on Fertilizer Emissions Reduction released. There is clearly a diversity of perspectives on many key issues, and we are pleased to see the report identify the importance of further producer engagement in advancing this voluntary approach. At the same time, we are pleased to see the report highlight the key themes we continue to explore in the context of the Sustainable Agriculture Strategy such as the importance of data capturing regional variation and accurately depicting on-farm emissions, and the need for robust incentives to effectively support adoption of best practices. Most importantly, we are pleased to see the report factor in producer profitability, reflecting the need to consider emissions reduction strategies in the context of environmental, economic, and social sustainability.”

– Keith Currie, President of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture

“We are pleased to see the universal support of 4R Nutrient Stewardship. We look forward to continuing to work with the government and producers to improve measurement and accelerate the adoption of 4R Best Management Practices, which reduce emissions and increases productivity.”

– Karen Proud – President and CEO of Fertilizer Canada

Quick facts

  • Since 2021, the Government of Canada has announced more than $1.5 billion in climate-action initiatives for the agriculture sector, including strengthening support for the Agricultural Clean Technology Program and the On-Farm Climate Action Fund, which includes a focus on nutrient management. Through these programs, AAFC is already supporting fertilizer emissions reduction projects in every province across the country.
  • Fertilizers are an essential input for Canada’s agricultural crops. However, the application of synthetic fertilizer creates a potent greenhouse gas that is about 300 times stronger than carbon dioxide.  Emissions from fertilizer use are the only category of Canada’s agricultural emissions projected to rise significantly through to 2030 under business as-usual conditions. Tackling this challenge is necessary to ensure that the agriculture sector continues to grow while contributing to Canada’s climate change goals.
  • The guiding vision of the Sustainable Agriculture Strategy is to ensure that Canada continues to be recognized as a world leader in sustainable agriculture and agri-food production. The public consultation is ongoing, and Canadians are invited to share their thoughts online until March 31st.