Sask. makes vow on farmers’ carbon

Sask. premier Scott Moe commits to recognizing carbon storage, but those who direct seed worry about being left out. | File photo

Saskatchewan premier Scott Moe says his government is making every effort to ensure the province’s farmers will be recognized for all the carbon they store.

The province is developing offset protocols for the crops and livestock sectors. The plan is to have offsets in place for 2022 so farmers can participate in carbon markets.

During a news conference last week, Moe said agriculture will be included in the made-in-Saskatchewan plan that is coming in the wake of the Supreme Court of Canada decision that determined Ottawa could impose nation-wide carbon pricing.

The fuel needed to dry grain will be exempt, if possible, he said.

“Two, we will be looking at refunding as much of the carbon tax as possible right at the outset to provide that incentive to producers right at the time of purchase rather than at the time of them filling out their income tax forms,” Moe said.

He also said the forthcoming carbon credit plans, or offsets, will be unique to Saskatchewan.

Environment minister Warren Kaeding said stakeholder consultation is underway but decisions haven’t yet been made.

Some farmers are concerned that those who direct seed will be left out because the adoption rate is higher than 40 percent. Environment officials indicated this would be the case during a recent briefing with stakeholders.

“We’re not precluding anything from protocol development and ultimately what may be accepted as offsets,” Kaeding said.

He said offsets will be in an international market and that market will determine what has value and is acceptable.

“I would say there is going to be opportunity for commodity groups, producer groups, to put their heads together to determine what they might want to see as protocols.

But it all has to be defensible. It has to be validated, verified. It has to be something our emitters — they’re paying for it — that they can find credibility in what they’re purchasing. That’s part of our consultation process now.”

The premier said the government wants farmers to be recognized for every pound of carbon possible.

“It should be recognized going back decades so we’re making every effort to do that,” Moe said. “That being said, there is some challenges with respect to the understanding of exactly how valuable that effort has been, not only at our federal level but the international level as well.”

Stakeholder engagement was delayed because of COVID-19, and virtual meetings took place in the middle of March. Comments on the protocols close April 16.

The environment ministry said a protocol that includes natural grass retention and wetlands is one possible focus. Other protocols could include cover crops, rotational grazing and other practices.

Waste management protocols for landfill gas and aerobic composting are also under development.

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