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Farm organizations seeking support for carbon offset system rewards

Wide range of provincial groups looking for input for creation of system to recognize and reward farm contributions to environmental issues
Farming zero till
A farmer seeds mustard on a zero-till farm in southern Saskatchewan.
With a review of the Government of Canada’s proposed Greenhouse Gas Offset Credit System regulations currently underway, a group of Saskatchewan farm and soil conservation organizations are hoping input from the province’s farmers will lead to positive change.

A wide range of Saskatchewan farm groups — including Sask Wheat, SaskCanola, SaskPulse, SaskBarley, SaskFlax, SaskOats, Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities, Agriculture Producers Association of Saskatchewan — are joining the Soil Conservation Council of Canada and Saskatchewan Soil Conservation Association to encourage farmers to offer comments and suggestions during the 60-day comment period running until May 5.

“The carbon sequestered each year by Saskatchewan farmers is a critical asset to help both the federal and provincial governments meet their climate change goals,” said Jocelyn Velestuk, a Sask Wheat and SSCA director, and member of the SSCA’s Carbon Advisory Committee, in a press release announcing the initiative. “That value should be recognized and returned to the farmgate.”

One of the main focuses of the coalition is to see farmers compensated for their carbon conservation practices, especially those that can reduce yield in the face of environmental protection, such as zero-till and continuous cropping farm systems.

The SSCA Carbon Advisory Committee is “committed to working with the federal and provincial governments to develop a science-based offset protocol for the sequestration of carbon in agricultural soils.

“Each year, through no-till practices, Saskatchewan farmers sequester about nine million new tonnes of carbon dioxide. We are committed to achieving a regulatory environment that recognizes this significant positive impact,” added Velestuk, citing the Government of Saskatchewan’s Prairie Resilience Paper.

Any offset program must include farmer ownership of soil carbon credits, including a registry allowing farmers to ‘bank’ their credits; an effective price discovery mechanism and full transparency of basis costs, the SSCA says.

Anyone wishing to leave their input and get involved in the federal consultations can visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/climate-change/pricing-pollution-how-it-will-work/output-based-pricing-system/federal-greenhouse-gas-offset-system.html.

For more information on the SSCA Carbon Advisory Committee and their ongoing work to see farmers compensated for their efforts, see www.ssca.ca/carbon-initiative.