MONTREAL, October 22, 2020 – The Ministère de l'Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation du Québec (MAPAQ) unveiled today its Plan d’agriculture durable (PAD - Sustainable Agriculture Plan), the beginning of a necessary shift toward more environmentally and socially sustainable agricultural practices, which will enhance our collective resilience.
“The plan includes concrete, measurable results and specific actions, with the potential to create significant results in many areas. The pandemic has laid bare the fragility of our agri-food system and its vulnerability to the climate crisis and the loss of biodiversity. The plan that was unveiled today is a first step toward tackling these issues,” states Colleen Thorpe, Executive Director at Équiterre.
“Much work remains to be done to put it all in place, but the methods that have been put forward,namely recognizing agri-environmental practices implemented by some farmers, including producers who have both organic and regenerative practices, knowledge development, transfer, training and support, have the potential to build a solid framework for ongoing improvements in the sector. At the same time, we expect that agricultural risk management programs will be modulated to support agri-environmental and soil regeneration practices,” specifies Colleen Thorpe.
According to Équiterre’s, it is imperative that the PAD be deployed and executed in a manner that is transparent and coherent with the objective of ensuring healthy, local food for Quebecers.
Équiterre is pleased with the announcement that the Agrologists Act will be modernized, and hopes that it will give agronomists greater independence from the pesticide and fertilizer industry. Their increased role within the MAPAQ is also good news and we hope that many of them will be in the field to provide support. In addition, Équiterre hopes that the policy on responsible conduct for research helps to rule out any conflict of interest within research institutes.
Équiterre is pleased with the objectives set out in the PAD:
● Reduce the use and the risks of pesticides on health and the environment
“Since 1992, Quebec has adopted a number of strategies to reduce pesticide use and the risks they pose, but despite the efforts of the sector, the results have been mixed. After a parliamentary commission on this issue and the serious concerns expressed by the public, the time has come for decisive action, and the government seems to have gotten this message,” states Nadine Bachand, Senior Analyst in Agriculture and Soil Health at Équiterre.
● Improve soil health and preservation
“Soil health is the cornerstone of our food systems and of resilient agriculture, but it has been deteriorating over the years. Healthy soil can store carbon and ensure healthy crops – and not to mention farm income, at a time when revenues are at risk from climate disruption. Our soil is the most precious resource to ensure long term food supply and security,” explains Nadine Bachand.
*Interesting fact: In Canada, soil degradation cost $3 billion in 2011, and caused cumulative losses of $40-60 billion for the period from 1971 to 2011.
● Improve management of fertilizing materials
“It will be essential to minimize the use of nitrogen fertilizers in a context where N2O emissions continue to rise. N2O is a greenhouse gas 300 times more powerful than CO2 over a 100-year span in terms of planetary warming,” concludes our expert.
● Optimize water management
● Enhance biodiversity
Équiterre hopes that the PAD will help ensure a transition to regenerative agriculture, allowing numerous medium and long term benefits for our communities, our agricultural enterprises, our environment and our health.
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Anthony Côté Leduc
Media Relations, Équiterre