Question Period: National Soil Conservation Week

By: The Hon. Marty Klyne

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Castle Mountain, Alberta

Hon. Marty Klyne: Senator Gold, this week marks National Soil Conservation Week. Soil sustains our woods and grasslands and their plants and animals. It is a vital resource for Canadian livelihoods, including construction, forestry and, of course, agricultural and food security.

Unfortunately, this precious resource doesn’t always receive the recognition it deserves. That’s why I’m proud that our Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry is conducting a study on soil health — the first study in the Parliament specifically on soil in 39 years.

Senator Gold, as we study this important issue, can you update the chamber on what steps the federal government is taking to collaborate and support stakeholders across the country to protect soil health in Canada?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question and for the vital work the Senate committee is doing on this important subject. This has been a priority for governments and for this government, and it builds upon a history of world-class research in this country on this important issue. Indeed, Canadian scientists are bringing to the table innovative approaches and practices to help us build resilience in soils, reduce erosion and increase soil carbon capture, helping the agricultural community to do its important and necessary part in our efforts to offset greenhouse gas effects.

Since 2021, the government has announced $1.5 billion worth of initiatives for the agricultural sector. It has provided incentives to producers to adopt practices and technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, sequester carbon in soils and improve soil health. The new Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership — which is a $3.5-billion five-year agreement between federal, provincial and territorial governments — includes funding to support farmers in adapting practices to improve soil health. This includes a new $250-million cost-shared Resilient Agricultural Landscape Program to help farmers implement such practices and help enhance the natural ability of agricultural lands to sequester carbon, protecting biodiversity and, of course, soil health.

The government is also developing a sustainable agricultural strategy in collaboration with sector partners and stakeholders. It will focus on five themes, including soil health, and help set a shared direction for our actions together to improve environmental performance over the long term to enhance the sustainability, competitiveness and vitality of this sector.

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