From a news release
Soil Health Strategy –
The Agricultural Soil Health and Conservation Strategy recognizes that healthy soil is foundational to so many aspects of our society, including the success of farming families, and the health of the agricultural sector as a whole. Healthy soils have many benefits for society as well. Initiatives through this strategy should consider the positive impact healthy soil has on the quality of food, water quality, and reducing greenhouse gases. It should also recognize the significant contribution farmers make through their soil stewardship efforts.
While farmers work to be good stewards of the soil, there are many factors that impact how agricultural soils across the province are managed. The GLASI program and the Soil Health Checkup offer education, extension and funding to support farmers. These programs need to be sufficiently funded in the long term to ensure that they remain effective. Literature and research on best management practices (BMPs) needs to be accompanied by public and private extension consultation with farmers on what will work best on their farms.
Government’s role should emphasize support for research, monitoring and modeling, and funding up-to-date soil mapping. Government support for stewardship programs assists those farmers who are working towards positive change in improving soil health.
Planning Ontario’s Energy Future –
As Ontario considers future energy needs, and future sources to provide that energy, the social, economic and environmental impacts all need to be carefully considered. The high cost of energy in Ontario has put our agricultural industry at a significant competitive disadvantage within the rest of Canada, and with the United States. In particular, electricity pricing should more evenly spread the delivery costs across all customers in the province.
Transparency in pricing is important for both electricity and fuels. The added costs of using fossils fuels through the cap and trade system need to be clearly indicated in the pricing breakdown in order to incent conservation practices and new energy efficient technologies.
The CFFO supports expanding the natural gas infrastructure in rural Ontario, which will benefit agricultural businesses. Innovation in electricity storage technology needs to be supported through energy research and development investments, and should focus on small-scale storage solutions as part of a local generation system.
Renewable sources of energy generation are not equal, and their costs and benefits need to be carefully considered. Hydroelectric generation should be encouraged. Solar generation projects should focus on rooftop locations or small rotating land-based solutions, and should not be built over productive farmland.
Wind generation projects have caused significant social strife in rural communities. These projects need to ensure that they have the support of the community and that the benefits of these projects are shared amongst those who are also bearing the costs.
There is significant opportunity to expand renewable natural gas, and biofuels including ethanol into our fuel mix. While solar generation is suitable on buildings, large solar projects on arable land should be stopped. It makes more sense to capitalize on the biofuel opportunities from agricultural residues, and food and animal waste generated in the agri-food system, and to keep farmland in production. Active farmland produces complex environmental and social benefits including healthy soils, water cycling, carbon sequestration, and increased biodiversity, all while capturing energy from the sun.
Cap and Trade Offsets –
Offsets are a good way to encourage innovation and greenhouse gas reduction beyond the regulated sectors in the Cap and Trade system. Sequestration should be a second line of defense, but is still an important positive contribution against the problem of climate change, recognizing that some sources of greenhouse gas emissions cannot be completely reduced. There are many agricultural carbon sequestration initiatives which may not meet the strict requirements for permanence set out in the Western Climate Initiative regulations, but which still form a positive contribution to the issue of climate change. These should be considered for a voluntary offset program within Ontario.
It is important that aggregation be available for the regulated compliance offsets in order to allow to a wider array of initiatives and operators to participate in the offset system. Furthermore, regulated compliance offsets should first be sourced from within Ontario before those from the rest of Canada are permitted to be used.
If implemented, a regulated compliance offset and voluntary offset system will reward farmers for the environmental service of greenhouse gas reduction and sequestration that they provide through the good stewardship they exercise on their farms.
To find out more information, and to read the full submission, visit the CFFO website