On December 12, 2022, Canada's federal government
launched consultations on its first Sustainable Agriculture Strategy (SAS). The
Strategy is meant to be a comprehensive tool to provide an integrated and
coordinated approach for addressing environmental issues in the agricultural
SAS development will be a collaborative process among a multitude of stakeholders, including provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous communities, and representatives from the agriculture sector. To facilitate public consultations and workshops, there will be an Advisory Committee cochaired by AAFC and the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA). The committee will be comprised of industry experts, academics, farmers, and representatives of associations and non-governmental organizations.
The federal government proposes seven principles as
foundational in the development of SAS:
- Farmer-focused (considering farmers’ needs and concerns, maintaining the economic resilience of farming sector, and recognizing regional diversity and that there is no "one-size-fits-all" solution to addressing environment and climate issues)
- Evidence-based (ensuring that decision-making is based on scientific principles, empirical data, accepted methodologies, and professional standards)
- Coordination (among federal and provincial governments, industry, farmers, and other stakeholders)
- Circularity (relying on circular economy principles for an agri-food system that is regenerative and resilient)
- Additionality (complementing existing initiatives by new actions)
- Transparent and accountable (sharing records of decisions and actions with the public)
- Supports Reconciliation (working in partnership with Indigenous Peoples to advance their rights and support implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples)
SAS will focus on five priority issue areas:
- Soil health (recognizing healthy soils as fundamental to the sustainability of agriculture)
- Climate adaptation and resilience (the need for agricultural systems to adapt to a new series of climate change impacts, while considering the interaction with economic and social pressures)
- Water (considering water quality and quantity in agricultural production, and the wider impacts on ecosystems)
- Climate change mitigation (considering agriculture’s role in lowering greenhouse gas emissions, increasing carbon sequestration, and reducing food loss and waste)
- Biodiversity (recognizing the need to maintain biodiverse ecosystems when farming, as these ecosystems are, in turn, beneficial for agricultural production).
Finally, SAS is meant to bring climate and environment action on agricultural land under one umbrella, support improved coordination of public and private action, address gaps by informing climate policy and programming, and build upon the current suite of government measures that support environment and climate outcomes in the agricultural sector.