OFA Commentary 3639
Election Issue: Compensating ecological goods and services
By Bette Jean Crews, President of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture
Our farmers are truly stewards of the environment – we contribute to the identification of sustainable farming practices, provide habitats and food for wildlife and endangered species, preserve the rural landscape, protect groundwater recharge areas and carbon sequestration through the careful use of our agricultural lands.
These initiatives have positively impacted our entire Canadian ecosystem. This is a direct and tangible benefit to all Canadians. Yet the costs associated with these practices are often placed solely on the shoulders of farmers. Farm revenues may be reduced by maintaining wildlife habitat or protecting water recharge areas. Additional costs can be imposed on farmers already working on tight margins to ensure the environment is enhanced.
While the public receives the benefits from farm-sourced ecological goods and services, farmers bear the associated costs. The new federal government needs to recognize the value farmers contribute to such public benefits. It is now time farmers are compensated for their efforts in protecting our environment and for the losses incurred through supporting sound wildlife populations.
The bottom line is that government needs to step up to compensate farmers for their efforts in providing ecological goods and services that better our country. The World Trade Organization allows governments to declare such payments as green-box support. Canada’s federal leaders must provide our farmers with adequate environmental payments that cover the costs of providing wildlife habitat and other environmental provisions to improve our ecosystems in Canada.
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture urges its members to press their newly-elected officials toward an appropriate and fair ecological goods and services compensation schedule for our farmers. Farmers and farm leaders alike need to introduce themselves to their local new Members of Parliament soon after the results are in to push for full scale programs that will address environmental initiatives through government support in place of farmers bearing the financial burden.
Ecological goods and services benefit our entire community. Isn’t it time our government recognizes our farmers for their role in protecting these resources? Now is the time to make our voices heard: next week, vote for the candidates that understand that investing in farmers is an investment for the future of Canada’s ecosystem.
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