Greens should reconsider ag policy

So, the Green Party’s Elizabeth May has stepped down as leader. She will continue on as a member of Parliament – she even plans to run again – but her tenure as leader, which met with mixed success, is over.

While May is much admired in Canada, it’s to be hoped that her successor will lean away from policies that would devastate Canadian agriculture.

Her party garnered more than 1.1 million votes in last month’s election, for 6.5 percent of the popular vote, so it does have some clout.

Departing B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver said May “elevated the national conversation and forced other parties to take bolder positions.”

But neither the Liberals nor Conservatives accepted her policies on agriculture.

May tried to convince Canadians that every policy in every way should address the “climate crisis.”

In surveys, Canadians accepted that climate change should be a top issue, but her grim forecasts didn’t sell.

The Greens wanted to reduce the size of the national cattle herd to cut methane emissions, and decrease amount of crops produced through a move to smaller, organic farms and regenerative agriculture. (They never addressed the fact that extra tillage needed for organics would send huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, nor the reduced fertilizing manure from fewer animals.)

And while there is room for the latter two, the party’s policy approach would have sunk revenues from agricultural exports.

Her approach didn’t work, given the Liberals’ promise to increase Canada’s export position in the world from fifth to second, with agriculture as leading driver.

While addressing climate change is important, pushing for a contraction of the agricultural sector is a dead end.

Canadians aren’t moved to panic when they vote.

The Greens didn’t achieve the breakthrough they wanted. They will never back down from pressing policies on climate change, nor should they, but they should consider a more measured approach that considers technological advances on the horizon that would significantly reduce the amount of methane produced by livestock. And Canadian farmers are among the most efficient in the world in producing crops. Research promises to make even more progress.

Canadians will be asked to make changes to address climate change, but devastating agriculture won’t sell.

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