Delta News

Farm Leaders Urge Ministers to Support Conservation Programs

Winnipeg -- Canada's agriculture ministers have the opportunity to build an environmental partnership between farmers and the rest of the country when they meet in Alberta in July. Farm leaders from across the country urge them to take concrete steps to improve conservation on the agricultural landscape and provide environmental benefits to all Canadians by supporting the concept of Alternate Land Use Services (ALUS).

"Canadian farm groups have shown great leadership on the issue of conservation on the agricultural landscape, and we know that farmers are willing to be leaders in environmental stewardship," said Bob Friesen, President of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. "ALUS is an excellent opportunity for us to build an environmental partnership in Canada and it is now up to governments to decide to move forward."

ALUS would provide incentives to agricultural producers to protect wetlands, improve wildlife habitat, conserve riverbank areas, and enhance water quality. With ALUS, farmers would provide Canadians with more than food - they would also grow environmental benefits. ALUS was developed by farmers, and has been adopted by farm groups from Prince Edward Island to Alberta. It is also official policy of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture.

"Canadians have said that environmental conservation is a high priority, and the farm community stands ready to deliver," said David Rolfe, President of Keystone Agricultural Producers, Manitoba's general farm organization. "Canada is the only industrialized country without major agricultural conservation programs, and our international reputation as an environmental leader is suffering because of it."

Bill Dobson, President of Wild Rose Agricultural Producers went on to explain that "Recognition of environmental conservation practices by the Canadian public represents a key building block for the future of rural Canada. Leadership in recognizing this reality by all levels of government are key to the successful incorporation of ALUS."

Both the European Union and the United States spend significant sums on protection and conservation because incentives are recognized as having the most effective impact on the landscape.

"Providing incentives to farmers to preserve wetlands, conserve fragile land, improve water quality, and to protect habitat is a much better way to provide environmental benefits than through regulations," said Terry Hildebrandt, President of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan. "Unfortunately, many governments have chosen to implement ineffective regulatory programs that only impose costs on producers without providing any real environmental benefits."

All across Canada, farmers are seeing the value of a voluntary program that gives them the tools to achieve the ever-increasing societal goals for environmental benefits.

"Because of its voluntary nature, ALUS has the potential to be the most economical and cost effective partnership in years," says Bauke Vogelzang, President of the Norfolk Federation of Agriculture in Ontario. "It fits hand in glove with the Ontario Nutrient Management Act and the proposed Greenbelt legislation."

Farm leaders are looking forward to the discussions on ALUS at the upcoming ministers' meeting. They encourage the federal-provincial-territorial ministers to adopt a policy of providing meaningful incentives to producers who deliver environmental benefits to the rest of Canada.

"It is absolutely critical to get the ALUS pilot projects started this summer," said Rolfe. "Farmers and conservation groups have raised significant amounts of money, from as far away as Mississippi and Tennessee, to improve the environment with ALUS. All this could be lost if government delays the decision to get started."

Farmers believe that ALUS is the best opportunity to merge agricultural and environmental interests into a single program.

"ALUS is different from any other environmental plan because it empowers farmers to build their conservation capacity," says Friesen. "Our ministers should not miss the opportunity to build a partnership between Canadians who want environmental services and the farmers who can provide them."

The federal-provincial-territorial agriculture ministers' meeting runs July 6 to 8 in Kananaskis, Alberta.

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For more information, please contact:
David Rolfe, KAP President. Cell: (204) 483-0502
Bob Friesen, CFA President. Office: (613) 236-3633
Terry Hildebrandt, APAS President. Office: (306) 789-7774
Bill Dobson, WRAP President. Cell: (780) 871-3826
Bauke Vogelzang, NFA President. Cell: (519) 420-8230
Lenore Smaldon, KAP Communications. Office: (204) 697-1140

ALUS is supported by these organizations:

Canadian Federation of Agriculture
PEI Federation of Agriculture
PEI Department of Environment, Energy & Forestry
PEI Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Aquaculture
Ontario Federation of Agriculture
Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario
Norfolk County Land Stewardship Council (ON)
Norfolk County (ON)
Norfolk Soil & Crop Improvement Association
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
Ontario Stewardship
Ontario Federation of Anglers & Hunters
Ontario Wildlife Foundation
Norfolk Field Naturalists (ON)
Keystone Agricultural Producers (MB)
Little Saskatchewan River Conservation District (MB)
Rural Municipality of Blanshard (MB)
Manitoba Agriculture, Food & Rural Initiatives
Manitoba Crop Insurance Corporation
Manitoba Corn Growers Association
Manitoba Pulse Growers Association
Manitoba Chicken Producers
Manitoba Canola Growers Association
Manitoba Egg Producers
Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan
Wild Rose Agricultural Producers (AB)
Delta Waterfowl Foundation
TD Friends of the Environment Foundation
Long Point Region Conservation Authority
Long Point World Biosphere Reserve Foundation
Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries & Parks