From a news release
The Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario (CFFO) believes that the complex benefits of active farmland – from healthy soils, to carbon sequestration, to food production – should all be considered when mapping out any emissions project that involves farming.
With this caution at top of mind, the CFFO applauds the potential opportunity for Ontario farmers in a fledgling initiative by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, released in May. As stated in its discussion paper, “Proposed Agrifood Renewable Natural Gas for Transportation Demonstration Program,” OMAFRA is developing a pilot project to increase the use of agrifood methane gas as a transportation fuel. This project was identified in Ontario’s 2016 Climate Change Action Plan as a potential means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
While Ontario’s investment in the Ethanol Growth Fund (2005–2016) was successful in maximizing Ontario’s ethanol production capacity, the buzzword in today’s renewable natural gas sector is biodigesters.
Biodigesters capture the methane that results from manure or food waste, turning it into natural gas that can be used for several purposes, including – as OMAFRA proposes – transportation.
Several biodigesters have already begun to dot the rural Ontario landscape. “This is an exciting opportunity for Ontario to build energy self-sufficiency,” notes Clarence Nywening, President of the CFFO. “We hope these projects will promote the development of technology that works for a variety of farm sizes, so that more interested farmers can take part.”
Currently, biodigesters are suited to bigger farming operations. But with the potential of OMAFRA’s pilot project to kick-start the biodigester industry in Ontario, the CFFO is hopeful that research and development will lead to technologies that are more affordable for more farmers.
“I think the ideal situation would be a self-sustaining value chain,” muses Suzanne Armstrong, Director of Research and Policy at the CFFO. “The cow produces the methane that fuels the truck that brings the milk to the market.”
The Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario’s full response to OMAFRA’s discussion paper can be found on their website, christianfarmers.org.