This week’s guest commentary comes from Mark Wales, President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture
Farmers owe their livelihoods to a six-inch layer of topsoil, sunshine and rain. We depend on our environment more than any other industry to raise our animals and grow our crops. And as our global climate changes, including the environment on our farms, we face ongoing challenges from weather.
Environmental shifts impact so much of what we do, as farmers. The agriculture and food industry is already working to stay ahead of rising temperatures, extreme weather conditions and unexpected weather patterns. New technology, equipment, farming techniques and seed varieties are helping us adapt to new growing conditions and climates. Drought-tolerant crops, land drainage systems, irrigation and risk management practices are continually being adopted on farms across Ontario to minimize the effects of extreme and new weather patterns. We must be able to adapt, to minimize impacts on crop yield and quality, keep our animals healthy and sustain our own family livelihoods.
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is working with the new Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs to develop policies and programs to mitigate the effects, and adapt to the reality of climate change. The OFA is also consulting Ontario commodity partners to better understand how our changing climate affects each individual sector.
The OFA is concerned climate change will affect many of our existing policies. And we are bringing three key points to the government. The importance of business risk management tools for farmers to deal with the predicted increase in extreme weather events. The need for OFA to be at the table to make sure climate change programs and policies are available to farmers. And to ensure the efforts made by Ontario farmers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are recognized.
Weather touches every aspect of agriculture. That makes farmers some of the most flexible, adaptable professionals in business today. As the entire planet grapples with climate change, we need to recognize this issue impacts agriculture more than any other industry. And that means we need to be at the table when policies and programs are developed to tackle climate change.