November 8, 2021

Grain Growers of Canada Presentation to FPT AG Ministers – November 8th, 2021

  • Honourable Ministers, on behalf of the Grain Growers of Canada, thank you for the opportunity to address you here today to share how we believe our sector can contribute to our nation’s fight against climate change.
  • My name is Branden Leslie, and I am the Manager of Policy and Government Relations for the GGC. As you may know, we represent over 65,000 grain, pulse and oilseed growers through our 14 national, regional and provincial member organizations.
  • Grain farmers across Canada care deeply about making the right decisions to effectively steward the land and pass it on to the next generation. Not only is it the right thing to do. The health of their soil is directly tied to their livelihoods.
  • Canadian farmers are on the front line when it comes to feeling the impacts of a changing climate and they know first-hand how important adapting to and mitigating those effects are.
  • From severe drought conditions this summer across much of the country, to excess moisture in this part of the country during harvest, our members know that we need to be part of the solution, both for the good of our country, and their own operations.
  • At their own expense, farmers are voluntarily adopting innovative technologies and farming practices that are better for the environment and improve the health of their soil – ultimately contributing to long-term environmental sustainability.
  • And, the good news is, through an effective partnership with government under the Next Policy Framework, we can do even more.
  • As eloquently put by Mary, we too support the effective implementation of EG+S programming that can provide direct compensation to growers who provide a public good through improved management of their land.
  • The southern working landscape provides a challenging yet tremendous opportunity for improved carbon sequestration, increased biodiversity, groundwater recharge, water purification and a host of other public goods.
  • We have seen already the positive impacts that alterations to privately-owned land can have for our environment and ecosystem.
  • Improvements such as wetland restoration or creation, shelterbelts along waterbodies, and the retirement of marginal land have held tremendous benefit to our environment, and will greatly improve our chances of meeting our climate change goals.
  • However, they do come at a cost to land owners. As the public benefits, so too must the farmers who undertake the work to make it happen.
  • Farmers will never stop innovating.  By partnering with those who know the land best, we can scale up those ideas and get results.
  • Canada currently lags behind other nations, including the United States, in available conservation programs that reward farmers for protecting ecologically sensitive land or farmable wetlands. While their model may be imperfect, it is worthy of consideration as a starting point.
  • We will always seek to adapt to what will best suit Canada’s farm landscape and our environmental goals. Ultimately, we believe a Made-In-Canada approach is required to achieve our goals and ensure we do not harm our inherent agricultural advantage.
  • Should Canada implement a marginal land program, for example, farmers need the confidence to know that the current tools will remain available, with more on the horizon, to ensure that they are able to increase production on their best land, while simultaneously doing their part for the environment.
  • Ultimately, increasing the intensity of our production through innovation is our best way to fight climate change.
  • Proposals from other jurisdictions should not be adopted as a ‘one-size fits all’ approach under the assumption that the approach is right for Canada. Ideas such as an absolute reduction in fertilizer or crop protection product use will inevitably lead to lowered production, lower profitability for farmers, decreased food security, and higher prices for consumers.
  • We must chart our own course, embracing lessons from other jurisdictions, but ultimately, doing what is right for our farmers, our citizens, and our environment.
  • In our view, the effectiveness of any new environmental programming hinges on the government enabling continued innovation to ensure our productivity keeps pace with a growing population and growing demand.
  • Unless we have continued support towards publicly funded research, a predictable regulatory system, and a business environment that promotes investment in Canada, we will fail Canadians in both their food security, and their environmental objectives.
  • We understand that all levels of government are grappling with serious financial challenges stemming from the necessary programs to get Canadians through this pandemic.
  • However, as farmers have more and more responsibilities placed upon them, it is critical to note that the funding allocated in the NPF must be significantly increased, as to not take away from other valuable programs in the areas of marketing, research or risk management.
  • Alternatively, other means of funding mechanisms to support conservation programs should be found, outside of the NPF, to not dilute its core purpose – increased demand for our commodities, increased productivity, and risk management tools.
  • In closing, grain growers across Canada are eager to partner with all levels of government. It is imperative that farmers are meaningfully engaged in the early stages of any programming ideas to ensure that they can be achieved and will be effective. 
  • Together, we believe we can find the tools necessary to ensure the prosperity of farmers now, and in the future, while achieving our shared goal of sustainable practices for a better tomorrow.
  • Thank you for the opportunity to join you, and I look forward to engaging further during the roundtable discussion.


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