Federal and Provincial Governments Partner in Ecological Goods and Services Program

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A new federal ecological goods and services program, the first of its kind, was announced in late July as part of the upcoming five-year framework for agriculture called the Canadian Sustainable Agriculture Partnership.

About $250 million will fund a new Resilient Agricultural Landscape Program (RALP), designed to support the ecological goods and services provided by the agricultural sector.

“There aren’t a ton of details available yet,” said Tyler Fulton, a Manitoba cow-calf producer and Canadian Cattle Association executive, who attended the annual meeting of ministers of agriculture. ‘Agriculture in Saskatoon.

“It’s great that the government has committed $250 million to environmental goods and services that can go to producers and ranchers who can demonstrate benefits to the environment, with outcomes such as carbon sequestration and habitat wildlife, and a more resilient landscape to manage risks such as fires. and flooding,” Fulton said.

He said he doesn’t know how the program will be administered, but he’s glad the dollars have been allocated.

“I expect to be more engaged with them over the next 10 months, leading up to the launch of the new policy framework. I understand there are going to be differences from province to province.

Fulton said he doesn’t know if the RALP will build on existing programs such as ALUS (Alternative Land Use Services), which helps farmers maintain ecosystem services on farmland.

There has never been a pan-Canadian program of ecological goods and services in Canada, he said.

Fulton called the program “opening a door,” noting that $250 million isn’t enough to sustain the prairies.

“If you expand it across the country and add other programs that will affect cropland, that’s probably not what’s really needed to get things done.

“That said, without a start, we would lose another five years. I think it’s a really important success that we have something to start with, and then we can figure out the best way to administer it. Ideally, we will develop market-based systems that can allocate those dollars for the best value.

Fulton said some growers have already made environmental changes that may cost them money, but they did it because it will be better in the long run. RALP could provide compensation for these costs.

“At the end of the day, from a cattle rancher’s perspective, we know there’s a ton of resilience that comes from the grasslands – carbon sequestration and flood mitigation and even fire mitigation in the mountains. Why shouldn’t the by-products that producers supply be recognized as by-products of beef production? »

Collaboration sought

“To me, this whole announcement just shows that the government sees the value of agriculture in Canada and hopefully works more closely with the sector for its sustainability and viability. I don’t know if we’ve seen that in the past.

“I think this is a huge and tremendous positive step for more synergies and a working relationship,” said Sheila Hillmer, Livestock and Crop Producer for Del Bonita.

Sheila Hillmer hopes the new Resilient Agricultural Landscape Program will be created in collaboration between government and producers.

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“Since there hasn’t been a lot of definition yet, I think the government can work with the Alberta Beef Producers and the Canadian Cattle Association to see how we need to develop a program that works and matches their vision in as well.”

Hillmer wants collaboration between government and producers.

“As long as we are involved in developing a program, we will find workable solutions,” she said.

She is also pleased that the Canadian Sustainable Agriculture Partnership has focused on participants and aims to encourage Indigenous peoples, women and youth to work in the sector.

“I have said several times that my sons are taking over the business. It’s a tough industry to try not just to stay in, but to get into, so if there are programs and initiatives that can support that, I think that’s fantastic.

Hiller said she hopes this is the start of a longer-term, more robust program.

“These programs must improve environmental goods and services, but recognize that there is a lot to be done, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. We have to do it collaboratively and it has to be province-based because there are so many differences in ecological systems.

The Canadian Sustainable Agriculture Partnership was announced by Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau and her provincial, federal and territorial counterparts on July 22

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