Mediaplanet sat down with the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau to learn about some of the most pressing environmental challenges we face today and how they’re working with all stakeholders to drive our transition to a sustainable, just, and secure Canada for future generations.
Within the context of sustainable development, what are some of the biggest challenges faced by Canada’s agricultural sector?
Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector is recognized as a supplier of safe, sustainable, high-quality, and affordable products for Canadians and a growing global population. It manages to do so while balancing a number of challenges including market expectations, labour shortages, and extreme weather events. Our government is helping producers tackle these challenges by providing $550 million to help farmers reduce emissions, store carbon in healthy soil, and maintain resilience to droughts and other climate-related events. Producers also have access to a suite of business risk management programs. For example, in response to last year’s historic drought and devastating floods, our government worked with provinces to deliver over $1 billion under AgriRecovery and Disaster Financial Assistance to help impacted producers. In addition, the Government of Canada, in partnership with provinces and territories, employers, unions, and workers, is developing a sector-specific Agricultural Labour Strategy to address persistent and chronic labour shortages in farming and food processing in the short and long term.
What role does clean technology have in driving the transition to sustainable agriculture?
Canada’s hard-working farmers and ranchers have a solid track record of using innovation and new technologies to preserve and protect the natural resources on which they depend. Our government has invested $165 million in the Agricultural Clean Technology Program, which supports the purchase and installation of commercially-available clean technologies and processes. Additional investments to help farmers adapt to changing climate conditions and boost their long-term competitiveness while cutting emissions include the $185 million Agricultural Climate Solutions — Living Labs initiative and the $200 million On-Farm Climate Action Fund.
How is the Ministry of Agriculture and Agri-Food growing the sustainable agriculture ecosystem to improve environmental and food security outcomes?
The Government of Canada’s goal of helping Canada become a world leader in sustainable agriculture is central to the vision for the next agricultural policy framework. Priorities on environment, science, and sector capacity and growth will help Canada rise to the climate change challenge, expand new markets and trade, meet consumer expectations, and help feed Canadians and a growing global population. Through the Food Policy for Canada, our government is supporting sustainable community-based solutions to increase access to healthy and local food, strengthen northern and Indigenous food systems, and reduce food loss and waste, allowing Canada to move towards a more resilient and efficient food system that contributes to long-term food security.
What steps are being taken to ensure that we build a secure future for Canadian farmers and food producers while keeping the future of our planet at the forefront of government policy?
The Government of Canada recognizes farmers and ranchers as key partners in the fight against climate change, and we are supporting their efforts to reduce emissions and build resilience. Our Government announced $550 million in programs last year to help achieve a vision of environmental sustainability in the agriculture sector. In addition, with the provinces and territories, we are working to position the sector as a world leader in sustainable agriculture through our shared objectives for the next agricultural policy framework, the five-year agreement that will follow the Canadian Agricultural Partnership in 2023.
Finally, what message do you have for Canadians and Canadian food producers this Earth Month?
Our Government is committed to helping producers further adopt practices and technologies that reduce emissions and protect the environment without compromising production. I invite everyone to read the Guelph Statement, our shared federal, provincial and territorial vision for the future of sustainable agriculture in Canada. Farmers work hard to safeguard the environment, knowing it preserves their farms for future generations. Their efforts present a win for their farms, consumers, and the Canadian economy by responding to domestic and global demands for sustainable food.