Farmers turn up heat on carbon credits


An online petition designed to draw attention to the fact that governments don’t intend to credit farmers for past carbon sequestration had about 2,200 signatures April 12.

The petition on was sponsored by Saskatchewan farmers who say they are being penalized for being early adopters of technology like no-till.

It says they have to compete against farmers from countries that “arrived late to no-till farming and benefitted from technology bought and paid for in Western Canada.”

“We were pioneers in soil conservation and are now being penalized for it,” the petition adds.

The federal government’s draft regulations for carbon offsets say that farmers won’t get credit for removing greenhouse gas before 2017. Saskatchewan has also suggested that zero-till won’t be recognized because of high adoption rates, although premier Scott Moe has since said farmers should be recognized for every pound of carbon they have stored.

The province’s agriculture and environment ministers intend to meet with industry to hear more.

Vicki Dutton of Paynton, Sask., is one of the farmers behind the petition, which is addressed to the prairie premiers and federal agriculture minister. She said it is a way to gather voices, not just farmers, and reinforce what farmers want.

“These asks are consistent, from all associations,” she said, noting that commodity groups and national organizations agree.

“You make an arbitrary made-in-Canada decision that we don’t qualify for it? Well obviously, we’re not going to be happy with that.”

Dutton said western Canadian farmers will be at a competitive disadvantage if they aren’t recognized for what they’ve done and for their annual contributions. She said value-added industry won’t be able to survive if farmers aren’t competitive.

Organizers hope the petition will draw the attention of the province, the federal government and the international community.

“Canada has committed to being net zero by 2050,” Dutton said. “Can they actually do it without the 10-plus million tonnes that western provinces are adding to that balance sheet?”

The Agriculture Carbon Alliance, formed about six weeks ago by several national farm organizations, including the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and Canadian Canola Growers Association, said it is currently developing priorities. Its target is the federal offsets program.