NFU paper lays out solutions for climate, farming challenges

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MarketsFarm — The global climate crisis is interlinked with the financial crisis on Canadian farms, according to a new discussion paper from the National Farmers Union (NFU).

The paper proposes changes to agriculture practices that could help the sector become part of the solution to both major issues.

Compiled by Darrin Qualman in collaboration with the NFU, the 102-page document titled Tackling the Farm Crisis and the Climate Crisis: A Transformative Strategy for Canadian Farmers and Food Systems sets out a number of short- and long-term proposals for reducing emissions while also improving farm profitability.

“The farm crisis is real, as is the climate crisis,” said NFU national president Katie Ward in the foreword to the paper. “Left unchecked, the climate crisis will dramatically deepen the income crisis on Canada’s farms as farmers struggle to deal with continued warming, more intense storms, and increasingly unpredictable weather.

“It is clear that climate change represents a major challenge to agriculture, but it also represents an opportunity,” she added.

A focus on high agricultural inputs in order to maximize outputs was cited as a major cause of both rising global temperatures and falling farm profits, with the policies and actions recommended in the report generally moving the industry towards a lower input model.

“The solution to the farm crisis and the solution to the climate crisis are, to a large degree, the same: a decreased dependence on high-emission petro-industrial farm inputs and an increasing reliance on ecological cycles, biology, energy from the sun, and the knowledge, wisdom, and judgment of farm families on the land,” said the report.

The paper outlined numerous policies and practices that would lead to increased efficiencies, including a shift to electricity from fossil fuels.

With synthetic nitrogen fertilizer noted as a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, the paper advocated for a rather balanced minimum-impact no-till (MINT) cropping system.

Such a system, the paper said, would take the most promising organic agriculture practices (crop rotations, intercropping, reduced inputs) and combine those with more conventional no-till practices such as strategic chemical use to best reduce emissions while also improving the bottom line for farmers.

The paper also had a balanced view on livestock. While industrial cattle production has been linked to increased methane levels, cattle and other ruminant animals were also seen as an indispensable part of healthy ecosystems.

While many individual actions highlighted in the paper may help both the climate and farm crises, the paper noted widespread government-led mobilization will be needed if there is to be a transformation of the energy, food, transportation and manufacturing systems.

katie ward NFU
By Glen Hallick, MarketsFarm WINNIPEG, Oct. 20 (MarketsFarm) – Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) canola futures continued to push higher at midday Wednesday, getting support from increases in other edible oils, according to an analyst. He noted that Chicago soyoil shot up sharply so far today, with European rapeseed still on the rise along with gains in Malaysian palm oil. As well canola was being supported by tight supplies and this year’s production coming in far below earlier expectations. “Canola has broken out of its sideways trend that it’s been in for a while,” the analyst commented. “Technically on the charts, the actual buying activity and trading activity is saying it’s going higher,” he added, noting that canola could again exceed C$1,000 per tonne. The Canadian dollar remained on the upswing with the loonie at 81.16 U.S. cents compared to Tuesday’s close of 80.93. Despite the recent gains the dollar has made, the analyst said such have played a small factor in canola prices. ICE announced yesterday that it’s raising the daily price limit for canola from C$50/tonne to C$60 effective Nov. 1. Approximately 20,000 canola contracts were traded as of 10:33 CDT. Prices in Canadian dollars per metric tonne at 10:33 CDT: Price Change Canola Nov 944.00 up 6.20 Jan 940.20 up 8.00 Mar 924.80 up 7.00 May 897.80 up 5.10


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