Bill C-203 calls for the development of a national soil health strategy
By Diego Flammini
The federal NDP’s agriculture critic has again tabled a bill aimed at addressing soil health.
Alistair MacGregor, the MP for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford in B.C., introduced Bill C-203 on Monday. He introduced similar legislation, Bill C-290, during the previous session of Parliament.
“Healthy soils are the foundation of sustainable food production, enhanced biodiversity and cleaner air and water,” he said in the House of Commons on Nov. 29. Healthy soils are also key to our fight against climate change as good agricultural practices can unlock their huge carbon sequestration potential.”
Taylor Bachrach, the NDP MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley in B.C., seconded the bill.
MacGregor’s bill calls for:
- The federal minister of agriculture to develop a national soil health strategy,
- The appointment of a national soil health advocate,
- Recognizing Dec. 5 as “World Soil Day” in Canada (the United Nations recognizes World Soil Day on this date), and
- Recognizing the third week in April as “National Soil Conservation Week.” (The Soil Conservation Council of Canada celebrates soil health during this time).
The minister’s national soil health strategy would have to include consultations with industry stakeholders, governments and Indigenous communities.
The strategy itself must include multiple items to manage soil health and encourage the ag sector to implement best management practices.
This can be done by “supporting research programs that provide evidence to guide the development and implementation of regenerative soil management practices” and “enhancing knowledge transfer and the availability of technical assistance to agricultural producers and professionals,” the bill reads.
The national soil health advocate would focus his or her efforts on public soil health awareness.
This person would highlight “the critical role soil plays in supporting agricultural productivity, in maintaining healthy ecosystems and in meeting global challenges, including food security and climate change.”
At least one industry group is supporting Bill C-203.
Canada must address soil health if the country wants to be among the leaders in action against climate change, said Gabrelle Bastien, founder and co-director of Regeneration Canada.
“For Canada to achieve its climate commitments, we need more legislative measures like Bill C-203 at the federal level to scale up soil carbon sequestration,” she said in a statement.