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Sustainability dominates today’s agricultural policy conversations, whether it be the clothes we wear, the energy we consume or the food we eat. Farmers are under growing pressure to meet the food and fuel needs of the global population amid rising costs of production. This dichotomy often makes it seem like sustainability and profitability are at odds.

The confusion and mistrust around these conversations have been exacerbated by government policies directed toward Canadian farmers. Look no further than the recent fertilizer emissions reduction target, which failed to account for or recognize the costs associated and the lack of energy alternatives available to farmers. The growing mistrust has fuelled fears that the government lacks understanding of farmers’ concerns, and that it may enact policies that negatively impact their livelihoods. Rebuilding trust and improving outcomes for both parties requires positive strategic engagement.

Grain Growers of Canada’s (GGC) Road to 2050 initiative aims to bridge the gap between Parliament Hill and the farm gate. After years of consultation and policy development, on April 9, GGC will unveil its Road to 2050 recommendations, which will serve as a guide for government programming. The recommendations will be available at To achieve sustainability goals, it suggests government take a strategic, tailored case-by-case approach that supports Canadian grain farmers.

In the recommendations, GGC emphasizes the need for domestic investment in innovation and calls for increased government support in research and development and agronomy extension programs. It also highlights the necessity to expand plant breeding, agronomy and machinery research, as well as to maintain investments in rural broadband and 5G connectivity. These measures would support the development of technology that can reduce emissions and enhance the sector’s adaptability to climate challenges that in turn would secure the long-term economic viability of grain farms.

Canadian grain farmers have long been stewards of the land who adopt beneficial management practices independent of government policies. This underscores the sector’s commitment to innovation and continuous improvement. The recommendations urge the government to expand eligibility criteria and funding for existing climate programs, while facilitating the adoption of technology and best management practices. 

Most importantly, proving and evaluating the success of sustainable practices requires robust data and metrics. The recommendations suggest the federal government collaborate with provinces and industry to set accurate and consistent measures, baselines and reporting for data. This collaborative effort will ensure effective data system development and usage, which is crucial to create science-based policies and balance the privacy of farmers. 

As we look toward 2050, Canada must be a leader in agriculture. The federal government can help through investment in innovation, support for data initiatives and by recognizing and rewarding the achievements of grain farmers. With such support, farmers can realize sustainability and profitability goals today and well into the future.  

Kyle Larkin is the executive director of GGC.


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