That sounds good. Thanks again for the opportunity to present. It's good that I got my exercise before I came here.
First of all, I think looking into some of the challenges of climate change is very important. We have a written presentation that will be circulated to people, but I wanted to cover off some of the main points we have.
I know you have had a number of witnesses who have spoken to you in regard to some of the conditions agricultural production will need to adapt to in light of climate change, so I'm going to focus my comments on what we see as the major needs for agriculture producers in this changing climate.
Let me start by saying that farmers are inherently adaptive. We have a long history of embracing innovation through technology, education, and best management practices to improve environmental, economic, and social sustainability. This has led us to a strong record of continuous improvement and has made us one of the most sustainable producers of agricultural products in the world.
We have a need to understand, in greater detail than is presently available in many agricultural areas, how the climate will be changing. In fact, we still have growing areas in Canada that are not covered by weather radar. Understanding the changing climate will support agricultural producers who produce specific commodities or varieties best suited to their local agronomic and environmental conditions.
It should be noted that many of us have already made changes in response to the changing climate. I myself am growing varieties of crops that were originally developed far south of where I farm in northern Ontario.
Recently, much of the political dialogue and investment has focused on climate change mitigation at the expense of adaptation. As agricultural producers, we are concerned about the climate change impacts that are affecting us with changing precipitation patterns, increased variability, and more extreme weather events, including precipitation, drought, heat, or cold.
These lead to changing pest pressures, as we can no longer rely on cold winters as a natural pest deterrent; changing range patterns of local species; new invasive species; heat stress on farm animals; new growing regions; new varieties; and new crops. These pressures have all had an impact on soil and water conservation. In order to maintain resilience, we need a better understanding of the most appropriate adaptive actions relevant to our own operations.
British Columbia, for example, has made significant inroads in building adaptation within the agriculture sector through the BC Agriculture and Food Climate Action Initiative, which is jointly developed and administrated with the agricultural industry. This program has conducted regional workshops that have brought together producers to develop adaptation priorities relevant to their own operations, local environments, and known expectations of the impact of climate change. This type of approach has led to effective and efficient tools and suggestions for improving the capacity for adaptation and resilience in their operations.
We need to build on this example so producers in other regions have similar access to this type of education. I know Manitoba will be releasing a report soon on adaptation efforts in its area.
We need governments to follow up with incentives and other supports necessary to take these adaptive actions. Leveraging best management plans through the environmental farm plan is one potential avenue to do so. I can speak from experience as I've used this program to access cost-shared funding for solar-powered watering systems for our cattle. This zero-emissions technology protects watershed quality by keeping cattle out of streams, which results in improved water quality and reduced soil erosion. There are many great examples like this that simply need the right incentives to spur adoption.
Adaptation needs to be mainstreamed into regular business decision-making for producers. However, we should recognize that in the short term adaptive actions that build resilience can sometimes introduce an element of redundancy and increased cost of production.
Adaptive investments can be difficult to make with thin margins, uncertainty over trade agreements, and rising costs from other government policies. As returns on investments for adaptation are often somewhat uncertain and not realized in the short term, we believe there's a role for governments to play in supporting the industry. In order to move quickly on adaptation, we need to develop concrete, specific actions that are supported by a strong outreach and educational component and that are relevant to the location and operations of agriculture producers.
This also includes new investments in research in order to improve modelling of the impact of climate change and on genetics in order to develop new varieties suitable to what our climate is and will be, not based on a historical average. Productivity improvements through genetics can also greatly reduce the amount of emissions per unit of product and may be one of the most tangible pathways to producing more food, fuel, and fibre for a growing and more affluent global population while also reducing emissions. We see the need to take a more holistic approach through climate-smart agriculture. This approach recognizes equally the need to increase yields through sustainable intensification, the mitigation of the impact of climate change, and the implementation of adaptation ideas.
Multi-stakeholder groups such as the agriculture adaptation working group, which is a member of NRCan's adaptation platform, have the scope to explore the issue, but not the support from federal government in order to conduct the research and analysis needed. We also need to conduct further analysis on whether we have the right insurance products available in a changing climate. This includes ensuring that we are taking climate change into account in the ongoing business risk management review discussions to build an adaptive suite of public risk management programs.
In conclusion, our key recommendations are to work with producers in partnership to set research priorities; produce and disseminate the right tools to make the right adaptation decisions; inspire changes in management practices through incentives and program support; implement a cross-sector strategy to support a sustainable and resilient food system; and, invest in ecological goods and services programs to incentivize adaptation and address water quality and quantity.
We recognize that Canadian agriculture is a strategic sector of the economy that requires strategic investments in order to achieve our full potential of providing low-carbon food and agricultural products to an expanding global population while adapting to the impacts of climate change.
I look forward to your questions.