The City of Sarnia in collaboration with the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership and a number of community partners across Lambton County hosted an Energy and Environment Summit on the morning of May 17th at Lambton College’s Event Centre.
The summit was attended by seventy-five participants with a genuine interest in the success of the Sarnia Lambton community.
As Canada moves to net zero, energy and the environment will merge and ultimately drive economic development. Understanding how Sarnia-Lambton will embrace this goal will be the essence of this summit’s discussion.
The LFA was invited to speak about the challenges that the Net Zero goal will have on agriculture and how our sector will be able to help other sectors reach that goal.
Speech by Gary Martin, President of the Lambton Federation of Agriculture
(Check against delivery)
Welcome and thank-you for inviting me to speak on this very important topic.
My name is Gary Martin and I’m currently the President of the Lambton Federation of Agriculture.
The LFA was formed in 1941 to work on a local level to represent the voice of the farmer in Lambton County on issues relating to their farm operations, while bridging with the community and other sectors and partners and service providers.
We’re on the grow, this year supporting 1942 farm families, and in 2021 we supported 1927.
Our mantra is to “Advance agriculture and the rural community through partnerships, education and advocacy.“
Energy and the Environment will be dominating the discussion in the years to come and I’d like to think that the 2nd largest industry in Lambton County should have a seat at the table in those discussions.
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture acknowledges that Climate Change is happening and that it represents a real threat to agricultural production and the livelihoods of Ontario’s farmers.
Changes in our climate are already occurring as a result of rising global temperatures.
This is resulting in an increased frequency of extreme weather events and higher variability and instability in seasonal cycles that directly affects our ability to manage our crops efficiently.
We also recognize climate change is a global challenge requiring action and investment from governments, communities, businesses, and individuals.
Circling back to our mantra, the LFA are specifically looking for increasing partnerships, education and advocacy, with governments, communities, businesses and individuals in the County and Ontario-wide on solutions towards the proposed goal of reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions towards Net-Zero.
*The government has chosen to commit to achieve Net-Zero by 2050 and they have brought forward a few programmes to achieve that in the agriculture sector.
The Federal government has provided funding through the On-Farm Climate Action Fund and the Agricultural Clean Technology Program, helping farmers to adopt more sustainable practices such as cover crops, rotational grazing and fertilizer management; or to purchase more energy-efficient equipment.
Other provinces such as British Columbia also have programmes that specifically promote best management practices for: livestock and manure management, soil conservation and carbon sequestration, energy conservation and ‘fuel switching’, as well as on-farm energy production.
Quebec is also receiving funding for researching environmental sustainability and clean technologies, funded by the Federal AgriScience Programme.
Ontario also conducts its successful Environmental Farm Program through the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association.
*Communities need to realize the mix that different factors contirbute towards Greenhouse gases.
In Canada in 2019 for instance:
- Agriculture in either Canada or the US contribute 10% of GHG emissions
Comparing that to:
- Electrical generation, it contributes 8% in Canada (25% in the US)
- Transportation contributes 25% (or 29% in the US)
- Heavy Industry, including oil and gas contributes 37% (or 23% in the US)
- Buildings contribute 12% (or 13% in the US)
*Businesses that are related to Agriculture can and are helping with the transition.
Fertilizer Canada is an industry association that is making great strides in the sustainability of fertilizer usage.
They have been mandated to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from fertilizer by 30%, from their 2020 levels.
They have been implementing their ‘4R’ Nutrient Stewardship programme to make sure that fertilizer usage is coming from the RIGHT source, is applied at the RIGHT rate and RIGHT time and with the RIGHT placement.
Agricultural equipment manufacturers are also making more fuel efficient machines, and precision technologies ensure that all inputs into the farm are more efficiently placed as well.
*Individual farmers are natural managers of the carbon and nitrogen cycles on their farm (through fuel and fertilizer) and there is a lot of opportunity for agriculture to be a leader in fighting climate change.
The best solutions will be the ones developed by those farmers.
The individual farmer will have to bear the brunt of the costs to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions inherent in the industry, and that is where they need the supports from government and the marketplace.
It is important for the agricultural sector to do their part in reducing emissions and we know we have a responsibility.
As I said earlier, Heavy industry and transportation are larger contributors to overall emissions and therefore have a greater emissions reduction potential in a shorter amount of time.
Agriculture is a primary industry, rural based, and has less access to supports than other sectors receive, so I’d ask for a gentler touch in the push for net zero.
We would also welcome partnerships with Industry on providing feedstocks to help them reduce their emissions.
Thank-You for your time.