You’ve heard us say on more than one occasion “what’s good for the farm is usually good for the climate.” In this episode, Darrin Qualman, Director of Climate Crisis Policy & Action at the National Farmers Union (NFU) takes a different approach to our beloved one-liner: we can tackle the farm income crisis and the climate crisis at the same time.
Take a deep dive with Darrin into the challenges agricultural producers in Canada face to stay profitable in light of increasing costs, the challenges rural communities face to keep people on the land and the challenges agriculture faces to reduce its carbon footprint. Fortunately, as Darrin explains in this episode, many if not all of these challenges are connected, meaning a solution for one can help in overcoming the others. Some examples of the solutions discussed in this episode are reducing chemical inputs, rotational grazing, reducing food miles and participating in what Darrin describes as the “soil health bonanza.”
Our podcast host uses this conversation with Darrin about the Tackling the Farm Crisis and Climate Crisis report to stitch together an 8-point ‘climate farm plan’ that may give you some ideas for your farm or ranch. (Note: our podcast host is not a policy analyst and really should just stick to podcasting, so take his 8-point plan with a grain of salt).
13:12 – How the Tackling the Farm Crisis and the Climate Crisis report came about.
18:10 – Why the family farm matters.
25:35 – Darrin explains his statement “agriculture does not produce greenhouse gas emissions, agricultural inputs produce greenhouse gas emissions.”
32:00 – Reducing methane emissions.
39:54 – Reducing nitrous oxide emissions.
50:34 – Why tackling the climate crisis can help us tackle the farm income crisis.
01:17:08 – Governments can help set the tone for wider adoption of climate-friendly agriculture.
01:26:07 – Our podcast host asks Darrin: “How big of a paradigm shift is this going to be for agriculture?”
Alberta agricultural producers mentioned in this episode:
Courtney van Assem and Vaudet Dairy (Ferintosh)
Janice Shelton and Sand Springs Ranch (Lac La Biche)
Northern Lights Fruits & Vegetable Co. (Manning)
The Kenyons and Greener Pastures Ranching (Busby)
NFU’s Near-Zero Emission Farm report (2021)
NFU’s Tackling the Farm Crisis and the Climate Crisis report (2019)
Environmental Farm Plan
The 4 R’s
Brief explainer on how methane breaks down
Farmers for Climate Solutions federal budget 2021 recommendations
Tony Neale and his electric tractor
Want to learn more?
After listening to this episode, we recommend downloading Episode 29 and this Bonus Episode to learn more about national efforts to create supports and programs for climate-friendly agriculture in Canada. To learn more about what a climate-compatible cattle sector could look like listen to Episode 1: Cows and Climate Change and Episode 24: AMP Grazing (read the NFU’s report too). For ideas to reduce chemical inputs, we recommend listening to Episode 34: Intercropping and Episode 21: Perennial Grain. And lastly, if you want to take a deep dive into the soil carbon science try Episode 31, Episode 20, Episode 17 and Episode 11. We have some great reads on the Farmer’s Blog too!