In a report released Tuesday, the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry says the federal government must protect Canada’s agriculture and forestry sectors from rising costs associated with the coming carbon pricing regime, which could see consumers pay more for goods.

“To achieve a sustainable future we must provide incentives that spur innovation and motivate Canadians to make positive changes," said Senator Diane Griffin, Chair of the committee. "It will not be easy, but our report makes thoughtful, evidence-based recommendations that will allow more Canadians to help our country combat climate change.”

The committee says it's aware of the need to combat climate change, but senators also worry that producers and consumers will suffer hardship from the imposition of carbon pricing.

In the report, the committee outlines the effects of climate change on Canada’s agriculture, agri-food and forestry sectors, and examines the potential effect of carbon pricing on producers and consumers. The report also suggests ways the federal government can support these sectors as they make their contribution toward meeting Canada’s emissions reduction targets.

The committee has made a number of recommendations which it says will strike an appropriate balance between protecting the environment and supporting the foundation of Canada’s economic well-being.

"The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) was extremely pleased to see the recommendations put forth by the Feast or Famine report, many of which are reflected in CFA's asks during consultation sessions for the report, as well as CFA's Climate Change policy," said CFA President Ron Bonnett.

The report makes recommendations to strengthen Canada’s innovators by supporting research into the most effective and economical investments in taking action against climate change, and by expanding and developing incentives that recognize and reward resilient practices and the provision of ecosystem services. Other recommendations are intended to insulate producers and consumers from possible increases in production costs. These include recommendations to exempt fuel costs for heating and cooling machinery used in farming, as well as propane and natural gas used in farming activities, to provide incentives for beneficial management practices, and to develop offset protocols that would allow agricultural producers and forest owners and managers to receive income through carbon credits.

"The report recognized the innovations that farmers are currently making, and have been making for years, to offset their carbon footprint, sequester carbon and increase the efficiencies in their operations," added Bonnett. "Investing in further research and implementation of technologies can take Canada a step further in the fight against climate change. Methane digesters could turn the emissions from animal waste into power instead of releasing them into the atmosphere. Research into more efficient feed technologies can cut down on inputs while simultaneously reducing methane emissions from farm animals. There is huge room to turn Canadian agriculture and rural Canada into a carbon sink."

Agriculture is responsible for 10% of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, though producers are increasingly using innovative techniques to trap carbon in the ground.

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