This week’s guest commentary comes from Paul Wettlaufer, Board member, Ontario Federation of Agriculture
As farmers, we know weather impacts every aspect of our farm businesses. Weather changes dictate our daily schedules, cropping seasons and even our bottom lines. That’s one of the reasons the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is taking climate change seriously. Climate change is being discussed at many of our policy meetings, at county federations and in meetings with government. And to make sure we are accurately representing our members, we recently surveyed them about climate – their concerns and ideas on how climate change is or will impact their farm businesses.
More than 2,500 OFA members completed the short online survey in January 2015. With more than 70% of them expressing concern about climate change as it affects agriculture. The largest worries for those members concerned about climate change impacts on their farms are the frequency and severity of weather events, extreme weather events, shifting weather patterns that impact growing seasons and crop yields, quality and cropping practices.
Almost half of survey respondents were unsure if the agriculture industry is doing enough to reduce the causes of climate change, while 45% have already implemented changes to their farming practices to decrease greenhouse gas emissions. Survey results confirmed Ontario farmers are already making changes to their operations to reduce the effects of climate change on their farms. Improving farm drainage, changing cropping practices and establishing wind rows were some of the most popular efforts reported for reducing impacts of changing weather conditions.
The OFA will be using the survey results to formulate our messages to government and policy makers, making recommendations for climate change policy and program development. The OFA believes it’s important the impacts of climate change on farms be addressed and considered in policy and program decisions. It’s also important agriculture is recognized for the existing efforts made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
We know our members are concerned about the impacts of climate change and extreme weather events on their farms. We also know many of them are already taking action to mitigate the impacts and reduce the effects of climate change. The OFA appreciates the time our members take to complete our surveys, weighing in on issues that impact their farm businesses. Regular input from members helps strengthen OFA’s advocacy efforts.