POP: Environmental Stewardship Compensation
Res #: POP 1-07A
Responses Received: No
Departments: Saskatchewan Environment
POP No. 1-07A
Environmental Stewardship Compensation
WHEREAS, society is now placing more emphasis on the role of farmers as custodians of the environment; and
WHEREAS, it is becoming increasingly costly to farmers to be environmentally responsible; and
WHEREAS, a healthy environment benefits society as a whole, but may increase farm expenses dramatically without proper compensation to farmers; and
WHEREAS, farmers are now receiving a one time payment under such programs as Green Cover and the Environmental Farm Plan, that are covering as little as 30 per cent of the costs being incurred by farmers, with no long range compensation;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the federal and provincial governments undertake environmental programs that will compensate farmers for all costs of environmental stewardship; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, further that farmers be paid annual preservation and maintenance fees to encourage farmers’ ongoing participation in environmental programs.
Response from Honourable John T. Nilson, Minister of Environment:
In terms of compensation for preserving/protecting lands:
The department enters into agreements with Environmental Conservation Organizations including Dicks unlimited, The Nature Conservancy of Canada, and Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation for the establishment of conservation easements on private lands. These easements involve defining limits to development to maintain the biodiversity value of the land in return for a one-time compensation payment to the landowner. There is no requirement on the part of the landowner to incur any costs. This program continues to be very successful, and the department is not considering changing it at this time.
In terms of annual compensation for conservation activities:
Green Cover and Environmental Farm Plans are voluntary programs. By requesting governments pay the ensure costs for these programs the resolution implies that non-farmers received the greatest benefit. These programs have a positive benefit for the environment but also have benefits for farmers. Individual farmers must evaluate the programs and decided with the program is beneficial to their operation. Practices such as reduced tillage, rotational grazing and off site watering of cattle and many other practices certainly benefit the environment. They are also proven to be beneficial to producers and it is unrealistic for farmers to expect governments to pay the full cost to implement these practices.
The issue of annual compensation for the provision of Ecological Goods and Services has been discussed in the department, with Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food, as well as with private section organizations, and we feel this issue is best addressed by Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food, through their Environmental Farm program.
Response from Honourable Mark Wartman, Minister of Agriculture and Food:
Current agri-environmental programming, including Environmental Farm Planning and Greencover, has been very well received by producers. As you are aware, the current Federal/Provincial Agricultural Policy Framework agreement ends March 31, 2008. Discussions regarding replacement programs, including the type of programming suggested in the SARM resolution, are ongoing. We will be sure to look at all possible options and will continue to encourage environmantl stewardship and sustainable agriculture in Saskatchewan.
Response from Honourable Bob Bjornerud, Minister of Agriculture:
The issue of Ecological Goods and Services, including annual payments for environmental services by farmers, has been discussed by federal/provincial/territorial Ministers of Agriculture. Ministers have requested that a series of pilot projects and a cost-benefit analysis be completed for their consideration. These projects are underway and we await their results.
The non-Business Risk Management components of the Agricultural Policy Framework (APF), including Environmental Farm Planning, were extended to March 31, 2009. The new Growing Forward Environmental Program is now being finalized and an agreement will be signed with the federal government.
The Beneficial Management Practices (BMPs) funded under APF are being reviewed to determine whether they should be included under Growing Forward programming. Each BMP has some combination of benefit to society and private benefit to the farmer. An evaluation of the public/private benefit of BMPs to determine the appropriate level of public funding will be part of that review.
Environmental Farm Planning under APF was very popular with farmers. Growing Forward will build on that popularity and will ensure effective environmental stewardship by the agricultural sector.
Response from Honourable Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food:
The Agricultural Policy Framework ended on March 31, 2008, but programs such as the Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) Program, Greencover Canada and the National Farm Stewardship Program (NFSP) were extended until March 31, 2009. This provides for a transition period while Growing Forward, the new policy framework for Canada’s agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products industry is being developed and implemented.
New partnership initiatives between the governments of Canada and Saskatchewan are currently being developed under Growing Forward. These initiatives will build upon successful programs such as the EFP Program, Greencover Canada, and the NFSP. Provinces have considerable flexibility to address provincial priorities with federal cost-shared funds. Future Saskatchewan program delivery mechanisms and approaches, including providing financial assistance in adopting beneficial management practices and developing environmental farm plans, will be determined by the Province of Saskatchewan.
The Government of Canada is working with provincial and territorial governments to finalize program details and sign bilateral agreements. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada will continue to work with the Province of Saskatchewan to target federal funding to provincial priorities that are consistent with the goals and objectives of Growing Forward. For more information about Growing Forward, please visit www.agr.gc.ca/growingforward.