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A group representing rural municipalities in Saskatchewan is blasting the federal government’s 30% fertilizer emission reduction target in a budget submission.

The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities sent Ottawa a document which, among other things, pointed out how the government’s agricultural climate plan was unrealistic. 

“Saskatchewan is known worldwide as a consistent and reliable supplier of safe, high-quality grains, oilseeds, pulses, livestock, and agri-food products. The United Nations has a goal of eliminating world hunger by 2030,” wrote the municipal group. 

“Canada has set a target to increase agriculture exports from $55 billion in 2015 to at least $85 billion by 2025. This 55% increase will not be attainable if the federal government reduces nitrogen fertilizer use by 30%.”

The association recommended that the government abandon what it calls “rigid reductions” and instead “work with industry and grain farmers alike to recognize that steps have already been taken and find workable solutions for the grain industry going forward.”

The group went on to say that farmers are already managing fertilizer use and any further reductions would cause food insecurity. 

“Reducing the amount of fertilizer used in Saskatchewan’s agricultural operations would be detrimental and significantly impact Saskatchewan’s role in creating increased food security,” said the submission. 

“Another issue that has been brought forward is that (the) federal government also requires a reduction of nitrous oxide as a part of its emissions reduction strategy. Saskatchewan producers would need to lessen the yield or productivity of their operation because the economic impact is just too significant. Future strategies need not compromise productivity of major crops and Saskatchewan.”

A recent study by the Global Institute for Food Security found that Saskatchewan farmers were global leaders when it came to low-emission agricultural practices. 

Data showed that the province’s farming emissions were much lower than the global average as well as the Canadian average.

True North reached out to Agriculture Canada on the group’s budget submission and was told by senior communications advisor Samantha Seary that adopting fertilizer emission targets would not limit the country’s food production.

“Instead, we want to support producers in implementing voluntary measures to maximize efficiency, optimize fertilizer use, and encourage innovation to reduce their emissions over the long term, while maintaining or growing crop yields. Canadian producers are experts at managing and protecting their land for future generations. They are already adapting to new growing conditions caused by climate change, as their ability to make a living depends on a healthy environment,” Seary told True North.

“Fertilizers are an essential input for farmers, especially at a time when food insecurity has reached unprecedented levels worldwide. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) is also working with the sector to support a wide range of beneficial management practices (BMPs) and technologies that can provide cost savings and fertilizers emissions reductions.”

Seary pointed to several initiatives, including a $1.5 billion investment by the federal government into agriculture over 2021 and 2022.