New federal funding will reward carbon storage efforts

Some specific examples the government is looking to reward are the adoption of grazing management plans, interior cross-fencing systems, water system infrastructure improvements and the etsablishment of forage and legume crops. | Heather Smith Thomas photo

The federal government has launched a new $200 million fund aimed at rewarding Canadian farmers who adopt farm management practices that store carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The new fund, dubbed the On-Farm Climate Action Fund, will provide financial support to farmers for techniques that fall into three general categories: cover crops, nitrogen management and rotational grazing.

Specific details, including eligible activities, have yet to be finalized but federal agriculture minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said Ottawa is seeking proposals from “potential delivery partners” that would redistribute the funds to farmers who undertake climate-friendly management practices.

Activities supported through the fund are expected to reduce Canada’s agriculture-related greenhouse gas emissions by up to two million tonnes by 2024 and by an additional million tonnes per year beyond that, Bibeau said.

Ottawa is hoping it will improve farm management practices on as many as two million acres of agricultural land. If that happens, the program cost to Ottawa will be approximately $10 an acre.

Amid drought, fires and flooding, Ottawa is “working around the clock with the provinces to support farmers with the full suite of business risk management programs,” Bibeau said during an Aug. 12 new conference in Sherbrooke, Que.

“But on the other hand, we must invest in the future. We must invest in practices that build the resiliency of our farmers to withstand extreme weather and help reduce the greenhouse gases that are causing climate change,” she added.

“Over the past two decades, farmers have doubled the value of their production and their exports while stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions,” Bibeau said. “We need to double down on that impressive record.”

Potential delivery partners for the fund could include producer groups and associations, commodity organizations, Indigenous groups, non-governmental organizations and provincial or territorial crown corporations, among others, Agriculture Canada said in a news release.

The selected partners will need to propose a delivery plan that would best achieve the program’s targeted outcomes, the department added.

Specific examples include:

  • Per-acre payments for the establishment of cover crops such as alfalfa or clover to assist with the costs of seed and equipment.
  • Financial assistance to help pay for agronomy services that lead to development of farm-specific nutrient management plans and equipment modifications for targeted fertilizer application in fields, as well as soil sampling and analysis.
  • Adoption of grazing management plans, interior cross-fencing systems, water system infrastructure improvements and the establishment of forage and legume crops.

Bibeau said Ottawa would like to identify program delivery partners quickly so funds can be distributed by the end of the year. The deadline for applications is Sept. 26.

“While many farmers are already taking action in these areas, the fund will help to take down barriers to support even wider and faster adoption,” said Bibeau.

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