LETHBRIDGE, ALTA. -- For the national farmer-led coalition Farmers For Climate Solutions (FCS), Canada’s Agriculture Day was the perfect time to call on the feds for a $300M investment to cut agricultural emissions.

FCS director Karen Ross said it’s crucial for Canada to act fast in supporting farmers’ push for more sustainable practices.

“Our sector hasn’t yet gotten the support it needs from government to be able to prepare for the future,” said Ross.

“Our emissions are still rising, and we only have nine growing seasons left until the [Paris Agreement deadline] so the time to invest is now so that Canadian farmers can be part of our climate solution.”

With the federal government set to release the 2021 budget in the near future, the FCS is hoping the nation’s farmers won’t be left behind.

The requested money would be used to put in place six proposed programs:

1. Doing more with less nitrogen by having agronomists and farmers work together to improve nitrogen management through a cost-share program. ($115M)

2. Increasing adoption of cover cropping by supporting farmers to plant cover crops through a per-acre payment program. ($115M)

3. Normalizing rotational grazing by supporting ranchers to implement rotational grazing through a cost-share program for planning and infrastructure. ($25M)

4. Protecting wetlands and trees on working farms through a reverse auction pilot program to conserve existing forests and wetlands. ($30M)

5. Powering farms with clean energy by transitioning on-farm energy beyond diesel through pilot programs. ($10M)

6. Celebrating climate champions by shining a light on farmers who implement climate-friendly practices through an awards program and awareness campaigns. ($5M)

Agriculture, cattle, Lethbridge, climate

According to the FCS, Canada currently invests 73 times less that the European Union into climate friendly agriculture on a per-acre basis.

That raises another concern from farmers who are looking to stay competitive in the global marketplace: namely, that sustainable, ethically-sourced food is becoming increasingly more attractive and valuable around the world compared to the cheaper options.

“We don’t want to wait 10 years and then say ‘oh, we’re out of these markets because we’re not doing a good enough job’. Let’s get ahead of that,” said southern Alberta farmer John Kolk.

“We don’t want to just be the lowest cost, poorest quality commodity producer. We have to move that up so that we have sustainable farms here.”