OFA president Keith Currie will bring the voice of agriculture to the table on Ontario’s advisory panel on climate change
By Jackie Clark
Keith Currie, president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, is one of eight members that will gather with a chair and vice chair as Ontario’s advisory panel on climate change, the provincial government announced in a statement on Nov. 28. He hopes to emphasize the capacity of Ontario’s farmers in climate change mitigation and adaptation.
“Agriculture gets overlooked in the whole climate change discussion all the time,” Currie told Farms.com. “I think there’s a real opportunity to showcase what our farmers are doing out on the ground each and every day.”
His appointment “shows the benefit of having a good working relationship with MPs, with the government as a whole,” he said.
“It was recognized that agriculture does need a voice.”
The agricultural sector is the largest land-base holder outside of government and, therefore, has a great capacity for mitigation strategies like carbon sequestration.
“This is where we can really highlight agriculture and what it can do,” he said.
“Those practices don’t just pertain to climate change initiatives, they also pertain to the whole soil health strategy,” Currie explained. “There are multiple co-benefits from climate change initiatives.”
“If I want to stay in business, harming the land, water and soil doesn’t make sense,” he added. Preserving the environment is in the best interest of farmers, and that is part of the message Currie hopes to bring to elected officials and broader society. A seat on this panel allows him to share this message
“It’s an advisory panel; we’re going to get together five or six times over the next year,” he explained. “We’re going to have input on things like adaptation and mitigation.”
The panel will advise on strategies “under the Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan. I’m happy the government is starting to use the language climate change,” Currie explained.
“Sometimes I think a lot of what this government is doing under the environment portfolio gets lost under the whole climate tax (debate) and they’re perceived to be anti-environment, when actually they’ve got a pretty solid plan, so let’s move forward,” he said.
The provincial government has indeed been criticized for being inattentive or even hostile toward climate change. Currie hopes that perception is starting to change.
Provincial government officials “do recognize that climate change has to be something that they go forward with under their environment plan, so that’s a positive for everyone to get behind. At least they’re going to do something,” he said.
The panel may be an opportunity to hold the government accountable for promised action.
“The proof will be in the pudding. I think this is where the advisory panel comes in. They’re going to make some recommendations to the government on ways that the government can move forward with initiatives to make Ontario a leader in the whole climate change front,” Currie said.
Wand_Prapan\iStock\Getty Images Plus photo