Soil Crisis in Canada Threatens National Food Security

Soil Crisis in Canada Threatens National Food Security
Jun 10, 2024

Senate Report Highlights Urgent Soil Health Issues 


Canada's soil health is under severe threat from climate change, pollution, and urban expansion, endangering the nation's agriculture and food systems.  

This stark warning comes from a new report by the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, titled "Critical Ground: Why Soil is Essential to Canada’s Economic, Environmental, Human, and Social Health." 

The report identifies soil as a cornerstone of Canada's $93 billion agricultural economy. It stresses that soil not only supports agriculture but also plays a crucial role in mitigating climate change, supporting biodiversity, and ensuring food production.  

Despite its importance, there is a concerning lack of awareness about soil's value among the public and policymakers. 

"Soil is often overlooked, yet it’s essential to all life. It grows our food and purifies our air and water. We must act now to preserve this valuable national resource, which is increasingly susceptible to climate change, floods, droughts, wildfires, and the loss of farmlands. Canadian soil was at risk 40 years ago when the Senate released its first report on soil health. We don’t have another 40 years," stated Senator Rob Black, Chair of the committee. 

Challenges such as floods, droughts, wildfires, and the encroachment of urban areas are leading to unprecedented soil degradation.  

The Senate committee has made 25 recommendations to the federal government, calling for collaboration with agricultural and forestry sectors, as well as municipal, provincial, territorial, and Indigenous governments.  

These recommendations focus on aggressive strategies to combat soil degradation and promote soil preservation as a national policy priority. 

“During our study, we learned that Indigenous peoples have been left out of soil science and agricultural education, and that Indigenous farmers still face barriers when trying to access funding programs. It’s crucial that we close these gaps and incorporate Indigenous knowledge into our soil health practices,” emphasized Senator Marty Klyne, Member of the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure. 

With the global soil crisis looming—where 33% of the world's soil is degraded and projections suggest this could rise to over 90% by 2050—the committee's findings serve as a crucial call to action.  

Ensuring healthy soil is pivotal not only for Canada's agricultural future but also for meeting global environmental goals like the net-zero emissions targets set for 2030 and 2050. 

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