Government of Canada – Farmers are on the front lines of worsening climate impacts and face increasing risk of wildfires and extreme weather events, such as floods and droughts. According to the federal government, the best way to build climate resiliency across Canadian agriculture’s diversity of realities and landscapes is by developing and deploying solutions that are tailored for each region, led by farmers and farm groups themselves.
On March 18, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Marie-Claude Bibeau announced an investment of C$185 million over the next 10 years for the new Agricultural Climate Solutions (ACS) program.
The ACS program aims to establish a strong, Canada-wide network of regional collaborations led by farmers and including scientists and other sectoral stakeholders. Together, they will develop and share management practices that best store carbon and mitigate climate change. This work will also help protect biodiversity, improve water and soil quality, and strengthen farmers’ bottom lines.
“Our government is working in partnership with farmers to develop and deploy the best practices that will fight climate change, protect our lands and waters, and deliver important economic benefits to farmers,” Bibeau said. “With significant regional collaborations from coast-to-coast, Agricultural Climate Solutions puts farmers at the helm of steering Canadian agriculture towards a climate resilient future for the generations to come.”
To be eligible for the ACS program, applicants must form a large network of partnerships within a province, including with agricultural non-profits, Indigenous organizations and environmental groups.
The program will proceed in two phases. The first phase, which will launch April 1, aims to support the development of proposals focused on regional collaboration hubs, also known as “Living Labs”, by offering grants of up to $100,000.
The aim is for every province in Canada to have at least one collaboration hub. Each hub will center on farms, where farmers and researchers can co-develop best practices, including cover crops, intercropping, converting marginal land to permanent cover, shelterbelts, nutrient management, and inclusion of pulses in rotations. Applicants will need to demonstrate their ability to engage with researchers and develop plans for knowledge transfer and adoption among their peers. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada will host regional information sessions over the coming weeks.
“This program allows researchers, farmers and other groups to work closely together and test their ideas on farm to evaluate them in real-world circumstances to achieve meaningful results,” Canadian Federation of Agriculture president Mary Robinson said.
The program’s second phase will open as early as fall 2021. At this stage, applicant groups can submit their applications for funding support of up to $10 million per project.
The ACS program is one of many important new initiatives being undertaken to promote environmental sustainability and resiliency in the agriculture sector, and is part of Canada’s Strengthened Climate Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, and towards net-zero emissions by 2050.