New ag research network in the works

New ag research network in the works
May 16, 2024

Dr. Karen Foster will develop the network designed to help reduce emissions in ag

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

A Canadian researcher is in the process of developing a network to support emissions reductions in agriculture.

Dr. Karen Foster, a professor in Dalhousie University’s department of sociology and social anthropology, received $1.9 million in funding from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to lead this national research network.

“It’s a network of primarily social scientists and humanities researchers,” she told “AAFC keeps bumping into questions about emissions reductions that are very social, or political or cultural, and not the things they’re working on with natural scientists.”

The researchers will try to understand the barriers of shifting to less carbon-intensive ag systems, including cost and benefit distribution.

The network is called the Common Ground Canada Network.

“It’s called this because we’re looking to establish some common ground about what we know, what we don’t know, and what we need to understand better to advance emissions reductions in agriculture,” Foster said.

In terms of what researchers already know, it’s that there’s a general acknowledgement from the ag community that farms need to be more sustainable. But barriers like policy and finances exist, she added.

The development of this research network is still in the beginning.

Foster and her team are still working to get members on board, which will include the ag sector.

“We’re having those conversations,” she said. “We’ve already spoke with the National Farmers Union and the Canadian Federation of Agriculture has reached out to us.”

And the more voices, the better.

Foster wants the network to be a “big tent” where people with different opinions and views can work together to find common ground.

“I’m not naïve, and I know there’s going to be division in this group,” she said. “But there’s opportunity for alignment. We’ve got a bunch of people who work on sustainable plant-based diets, but I’d also like to have meat producers too. We should have spaces where we can all speak to each other.”

Canadians can expect an announcement over the summer about the membership of the network, Foster said. has contacted the National Farmers Union and the Canadian Federation of Agriculture for comment about potential involvement in the Common Ground Canada Network.

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