Agriculture is losing to misguided urban politics


Commentary

Most Canadians have never been to a farm, let alone lived on a farm. That’s why more than 98% of his population has no knowledge of agriculture.

For many Canadians, crop production is an unfamiliar concept. For this reason, it is relatively easy to use fear to influence public opinion on food-related issues, including agriculture. Activists are well aware of this.

Our large rural-urban divide has always fueled our food policies, and that is not changing anytime soon. becoming a food security catastrophe.

The Trudeau administration wants to cut emissions by 30% by 2030, but that doesn’t necessarily include fertilizers. But growers argue that nitrous oxide emissions cannot be reduced without reducing fertilizer use.

The most common fertilizers contain nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Nitrogen is the problem. Excess nitrogen in the atmosphere can produce pollutants such as ammonia and ozone. Too much nitrogen pollutes soils and waterways and, of course, harms our health. Policy makers have every right to be concerned.

But the federal government wants absolute reductions in emissions regardless of productivity or efficiency of fertilizer use. For many crops, the ability of Canadian farmers to grow anything is severely compromised unless they use more land.

All this is happening because of the prevalence of food security concerns around the world. The Netherlands is witnessing massive protests from farmers as it faces similar emissions targets and even a fertilizer ban by 2030.

And arguably, Canada could be the next to adopt a complete fertilizer ban.

It is unclear how food prices will be affected. However, producing food on a large scale can be significantly less cost-effective. The correlation between commodity prices and food retail prices is usually not very strong, but broader policies that affect the entire industry at once could make that correlation even stronger.

Canada produces food not just for Canada, but for the world. Aggressive emissions targets are likely to lead to more, not less, people experiencing famine worldwide, and Canadians are not among them. We trade with the rest of the world, primarily the United States, which can make our crops less competitive. and food prices are likely to rise. This is her one side of the issue of reducing emissions in agriculture.

Food production needs vary greatly by region and crop. Controlled supply commodities such as dairy, eggs and poultry are exempted and you will receive more from them no matter what. Most of these commodities are produced in Ontario and Quebec. increase.

Grain production, on the other hand, is less protected. The proposed emissions targets will again transfer more wealth from one sector to another by jeopardizing the livelihoods of many internationally-focused agricultural businesses. Farmers come from all over Canada. The free market livestock sector, such as cattle and pigs, is also affected by all of this.

This is all happening for one reason beyond our focus on emissions targets. The government already imposes a 35% tariff on Russian fertilizers, but in reality tariffs do not punish the Russian regime. Our government wants to discourage the use of fertilizers for their own convenience We believe this only affects our farmers.

Canada’s plan to cut fertilizer emissions shows how agriculture is losing out to urban politics. The signal has been there for some time: “No Mow May,” bees in cereal boxes, city council decisions on pesticides. , it could spill over into agriculture. Cities basically want farmers to treat their fields like urban lawns. But for agriculture, the risks are much higher.

This has happened in recent years as activism has become institutionalized. Interest groups, even academics who have become advocates, weaponize science to support narratives that fit biased views about what farmers should and should not do. I’m here. It’s a reckless way of making policy.

Virtue signals that favor ideals over facts are practiced by people whose quality of life is likely unaffected. They are also completely wrong. This applies to all issues, but food and energy policies are felt most acutely.

The federal government wants to make agriculture greener and more sustainable. There is nothing wrong with that. Sectors can always be better. Many people talk about regenerative agriculture and the circular economy. These concepts have their advantages and help increase the efficiency of the agri-food sector.

What has not been appreciated, however, is how agriculture has evolved over the past five years to adopt more sustainable practices. Crop rotation schedules, biodiversity considerations, and a no-till approach have all made agriculture more sustainable and helped farmers reduce emissions.

Farming is a business and cutting costs is part of the business. Farmers don’t want to over-apply expensive fertilizers. Most farmers hire soil scientists to help them rely on reusing natural resources for their livelihoods.

Farmers are the world’s most responsible environmental stewards. Using productivity-based indicators related to fertilizers to incentivize farmers is better and less stupid.

Governments can look to other sectors to meet their goals, but messing with our food system is extremely dangerous.

Views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Epoch Times.

Sylvain Charlevoix

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Dr. Sylvain Charlebois is Senior Director of the Agri-Food Analysis Lab and Professor of Food Distribution and Policy at Dalhousie University.

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