This week I had the opportunity to question the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, about this government’s actions to address climate change and its impact on farmers.
I asked because the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, of which I am a long-time member, has been studying the potential impact of climate change on the agriculture, agri-food and forestry sectors for more than a year. Members have heard from a variety of witnesses, including producers. They told us how changes in climate are already affecting them: quick melts, flooding, extreme weather events, having to change crop varieties to suit new local conditions better, or refining their pest management strategies.
While Canadian farmers are perennially adaptive, they told committee members that they could benefit from government support when facing these new climate change-related challenges.
When I asked the minister what the government was doing to address these serious problems, I was encouraged by his reply. As a farmer himself, I heard that he understands these concerns, and has been working to address them. He noted the usefulness of risk management programs, and the dollars invested in agricultural research, in agricultural clean technology, and in research into greenhouse gas mitigation.
The importance of the agriculture and agri-food sectors to the Canadian economy is tremendous. The federal government must continue to do its part to ensure it can continue to grow and thrive for years to come.