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Putting a ‘KAP’ on climate change in Manitoba

Putting a ‘KAP’ on climate change in Manitoba

Keystone Agricultural Producers has developed a program to help farmers address climate issues

By Kate Ayers
Staff Writer

Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) has created the Manitoba Agricultural Climate Initiative to help farmers adapt to the challenges they may face as a result of climate change. 

The program has three main objectives, according to a KAP report released on Monday:

  1. Assess how climate change is likely to change agricultural production conditions in Manitoba
  2. Understand Manitoba farmers’ priorities for managing these changes
  3. Develop ideas on how government can support farmers’ efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change

Three years ago, “the government realized that we had to do something about climate change so, they put some funding in place to do a study on how agriculture would be affected in Manitoba due to climate change,” Dan Mazier, KAP president, explained to today.

KAP worked alongside the Prairie Climate Centre in developing the report. The centre allows the public and decision-makers to access the best climate science available, the report said.

By 2080, if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise on a global scale, Manitoba’s summer precipitation and temperatures are projected to be similar to those of present-day Kansas and northern Texas, according to the Prairie Climate Centre.

While higher temperatures in the province would lengthen the growing season and provide opportunities for new crop varieties, these benefits do not come without risks. Some of these risks include new pests, drier summers, and more extreme and variable weather, the report said.

The government can help farmers manage these challenges, for example, through streamlined water management regulations, making smart investments in natural infrastructure on farmland, and investing in upgraded weather forecasting tools to help producers better prepare for extreme weather. 

Although climate change may present challenges, farmers will continue to be instrumental in reducing and sequestering greenhouse gas emissions, according to the report.

Provincial and federal governments could support farmers’ environmentally conscious efforts by encouraging the adoption of 4R nutrient stewardship (Right Source, Right Rate, Right Time, Right Place). The government could also help Manitoba farmers gain access to offset markets so they can be rewarded for beneficial practices.

Finally, governments can invest in the development of new practices and technologies that promote sound land management practices, the report said.

“The whole idea behind the paper is to offer information (and guidance) for producers and the government,” Mazier said. “Just like agriculture adapts every day, we need to put policies in place that allow us to adapt to climate change.”

The full report is available here.