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Federal NDP calls for national soil health strategy

Federal NDP calls for national soil health strategy

Bill C-290 would also create the office of the National Soil Health Advocate

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

The federal New Democratic Party (NDP) has introduced a bill calling for the creation of a national soil health strategy.

Alistair MacGregor, the party’s agriculture critic and the Member of Parliament for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford in B.C., introduced the Soil Conservation Act on April 26.

MacGregor’s bill recommends the federal minister of agriculture act to “develop a national strategy to promote efforts across Canada to conserve and improve the health of soil,” the bill states.

This strategy must have multiple components, including:

  • Developing a national soil information system,
  • Supporting and encouraging farmers and other land users in the use of best management practices, and
  • Improving the communication and sharing of soil knowledge.

Taking these measures will help ensure farmers can continue to produce food, MacGregor said.

“Farmers are on the front line of the fight against climate change – few feel the impacts of our ever-changing weather systems more than they do,” he said in a statement. “This bill is about ensuring they have the tools they need to keep doing their jobs to the best of their ability. When we support our farmers and food producers, Canadians see the benefits in healthy food and a safer, greener environment.”

In addition, MacGregor’s bill calls for the creation of an office of a National Soil Health Advocate.

This person’s responsibilities would include raising “public awareness of the critical role soil plays in supporting agricultural productivity, in maintaining health ecosystems and in meeting global challenges, including food security and climate change,” the bill reads.

The proposed legislation also includes report requirements.

If the law is adopted, the federal agriculture minister would be mandated to submit a report setting out the national strategy within two years the law comes into force.

These reports must continue to be published every three years.

Industry groups have voiced support for this bill.

Focusing on soil health and climate change is necessary for successful food production, said Karen Ross, director of Farmers for Climate Solutions.

"Healthy soil is the foundation of farming and food,” she said in a statement. “Climate change makes it imperative that we turn our attention to strategies that increase the resilience of our farms and reduce emissions in our sector. Practices that enhance soil health and measuring impacts to understand how we can keep improving are fundamental to the future of farming in Canada.

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