Good afternoon, Mr. Chair and members of the committee. Thanks so much for inviting me to present today. My name is Karen Ross. I'm the director of Farmers for Climate Solutions, or FCS. We're a national coalition of farm organizations who know that agriculture must be part of the solution to climate change.
Launched in 2020, our coalition has grown quickly and includes 20 farmer-led and farmer-supporting organizations that now represent over 20,000 farmers and ranchers from coast to coast. Many of them already use farming practices that reduce emissions, increase resilience to extreme weather and improve their livelihoods. With the right government support, we can rapidly scale these kinds of practices and dramatically reduce emissions from agriculture.
FCS recognizes that putting a price on carbon pollution is essential to achieving Canada's emissions reduction commitments, and this is a fact that is now recognized by all parties in the federal Parliament, but we also understand the economic concerns behind Bill C-206. Many farmers sell in internationally determined markets, and any additional costs can make already tight margins even tighter.
Ultimately, FCS believes that the best way for farmers and ranchers to avoid the price on pollution is to produce less pollution. By transitioning away from fossil fuels, farmers will pay less tax and will be better positioned to compete in the new low-carbon economy. However, adopting practices and technologies that use lower amounts of fossil fuels comes with a lot of risk and a lot of high upfront costs, so farmers can't and shouldn't make this transition alone.
In recent history, our international competitors have dramatically scaled up investments in agri-environmental programs while Canadian farmers have been far less supported. Furthermore, many Canadian industries are receiving ample government support to re-skill and adapt for the clean economy, but agriculture has been largely left out, which means that we are not leveraging the full potential of farmers to contribute to our climate solution.
As a result, our sector's emissions have and will continue to rise unless we act now. This is why the funding announced yesterday in budget 2021 to directly support farmers to immediately adopt lower GHG practices is so heartening. The government has just made an important and unprecedented investment to support farmers to adopt practices like cover cropping, rotational grazing, improved nitrogen management, wetland and tree conservation and the adoption of low GHG machinery, which are all known to reduce emissions and build resilience.
This investment directly responds to FCS's pre-budget recommendation and is precisely the type of support needed to help our sector address the urgency of climate change while making smart business decisions.
The budget also includes a carbon tax rebate for farmers and support for energy efficiency retrofits of propane and natural gas dryers. Taken together, these investments reflect the fact that the government recognizes the potential for farmers to reduce emissions and is ready to support us to leverage our sector's full potential. There is more that still can be done and needs to be done, but that funding is an essential down payment for a resilient and low GHG farm future.
These investments also reflect the fact that on-farm technology to transition to a clean economy already exists. When it comes to grain drying, propane and natural gas dryers are already being retrofitted in Canada to increase efficiency. Also, alternative technologies that don't use any fossil fuels are on the Canadian market already. These alternatives all reduce energy bills for farmers and allow them to avoid some or all of the carbon tax, and their high upfront costs are now shared with the government.
The transition to low GHG agriculture is inevitable because domestic and international buyers are increasingly demanding low GHG products, and farmers won't be able to meet that market demand unless we start reducing our emissions now. That's why strong government support for innovation will benefit farmers more than exemptions to the carbon price.
In conclusion, the investments made in budget 2021 recognize that farmers need support to confront the single largest threat facing our sector, that of climate change. Those are critical investments that will jump-start emission reductions this season. They also lay a foundation for making agri-environmental support a core component of the next agricultural policy framework in 2023, which must further support farmers to compete in a clean economy of the 21st century.
The investments also provide a better path forward for reducing emissions from, and maintaining the affordability of, grain drying than does Bill C-206. Canadian farmers want to lead on climate change, and FCS is ready to support the design and implementation of these important new programs so that they are widely adopted, work for farmers and start to reduce our sector's emissions immediately.
Thanks for your time. I look forward to your questions.