Ontario farmers know the province is serious about their role in environmental accountability, with the recent release of Ontario’s Climate Change Discussion Paper 2015 and legislation to protect the Great Lakes. Both pay significant attention to agriculture, ranging from acknowledging rural communities’ vulnerability to climate impacts, to improving efficiencies in agriculture, to reducing harmful algae blooms, often blamed on agricultural run-off.
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the province’s largest general farm organization, gets it. The federation was quick to respond after the climate change discussion paper was released, reminding the world that farmers count on the environment as much as anyone, maybe even more. Some 25 years ago, they teamed up with University of Guelph researcher Gord Surgeoner and broke ground for the rest of Canada with industry-driven, peer-reviewed environmental farm plans designed to implement more sustainable practices on their own farms.
Since then, they haven’t stood still, and research, innovation and technology have helped Ontario agriculture reduce greenhouse gas emissions through new farming practices and through the development of bioproducts, biomaterials and renewable energy. They’ll need to keep reminding the province of these contributions as the environmental discussion proceeds.