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A talk with Francis Drouin, Parliamentary Secretary to the Federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

A talk with Francis Drouin, Parliamentary Secretary to the Federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Farms.com discussed the federal government’s On-Farm Climate Action Fund plans with Francis Drouin, Parliamentary Secretary to the Federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

By Andrew Joseph, Farms.com

On April 12, 2022, Farms.com talked with Francis Drouin, Parliamentary Secretary to the Federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food to discuss the Canadian Government’s budget announcement of funding toward a series of agri-food initiatives. Drouin is the Member of Parliament for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, Ontario first elected in 2015.

Building upon the Budget 2021, a further $470 million will be provided to help farmers reduce carbon emissions through the On-Farm Climate Action Fund.

Noting that this is a multi-year commitment, “we are trying to create a positive incentive through the funding,” explained Drouin, acknowledging that Canadian farmers have always had a vital role with environmental issues. “We are aware that farms have to produce food, and funding for preserving wetlands and natural spaces—to use as an example—will be in place to encourage farmers to keep it. We know it’s lost space to farm.”

Initiated with the 2021 budget, the government has recently announced a series of delivery organizations across Canada to administer this program funding.  With respect to the 2022 budget funding, “we’re trying to work with all of our partner organizations from region to region (across Canada) and all of the requisite hoops to go through to ensure delivery is efficient,” stated Drouin. “We may even include others (organizations) who weren’t initially selected.”

“We know that depending on the region, farmers may not even be able to participate in certain efforts,” stated Drouin. “An Ontario farmer with heavy clay soil may not be able to utilize no-till farming as easily as others,” but there was a desire to support appropriate solutions in various regions.

An additional $150 million in funding in 2021 Budget was a proposed resilient agricultural landscape program that will support carbon sequestration, adaptation, and addressing of other environmental co-benefits.  This is expected to be an additional component to the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (“CAP”), still being discussed with provinces and territories.

The successful Agricultural Clean Technology Program will also receive substantial new funding via Budget 2022.  This new funding will allow it to open again to support farmer driven submissions.

The current CAP program is coming to an end in 2023 - it provided programs and services that helped farmers manage significant risks threatening the viability of farming.  Drouin discussed the government's willingness to renew and enhance the CAP program.

With the programs announced in the budget, the government is hoping to encourage more Canadian farmers to engage in such practices as crop rotation, livestock rotation, composting, and no-till farming, for example.

The Net Zero Ag program was also a component of the 2022 Budget.  Having just completed a visit to the University of Guelph when he spoke with Farms.com, he noted the depth of the research and the innovation that occurs on campus.  This funding is designed to support this research – in a multi-year format.  This program has a $100 Million budget over six years.

Drouin said that Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is not only focused on getting all of its ducks in a row for 2030 per the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan for Canada to reach a carbon dioxide emissions reduction target of 40 percent below 2005 levels and a net-zero emissions by 2050.  

“We owe it to our farmers and research community to continue past 2030 with funding.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food was on a whirlwind tour of multiple locations in Guelph when he spoke with Farms.com.

Although very limited with time available to talk, Drouin has kindly offered to follow up with further answers to the questions Farms.com readers expect. More to come. 


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