Producers are being encouraged to give their input into the discussions around sustainability and agriculture.

Farmers for Climate Solutions have put a call out for farmers and ranchers to go to their website to apply to be part of a select group of producers that will be invited to give their input on the changes we see happening, the impact on the agriculture sector and areas that need to be considered.

A group of randomly selected participants will be part of the Farmer and Rancher Forums across the Prairies in early 2024.

The first session is planned for January 3rd to the 5th in Manitoba, with other events planned for Saskatchewan in February and Alberta in March. 

Farmers have until the end of the day today to apply to be part of the discussion forums.

Gordon Bacon is a co-lead for the forums and says they want to sit down and have an open and frank discussion about sustainability, carbon emissions, and solutions going forward. 

"I know that topic immediately brings a lot of reaction from people, a lot of it negative. With my years of experience working both in the cereal section ( wheat and barley ) and then also 22 years with Pulse Canada I'm really looking at it from the perspective of market demand. Making sure that we're ready for the changes that are going on in the food industry. It's really a time now where we start talking about, are there opportunities. Are there requirements for market access? And how do we make sure that we are seen as the preferred supplier for markets where this is important? "

He points out that if we are already seeing some companies talking about putting sustainability labels on all of their food products. 

"That kind of market interest says to me that as an exporter, and as a supplier of raw ingredients ( whether it's cereals, oilseeds or pulses, whether it's animal meat, the beef industry, the pork industry ) we want to make sure that we understand what's going on.And importantly, this is where I think the forum is important. Making sure that the farmer voices are at the table because nobody's going to know the systems that are going to work best for farmers."

Bacon says we need to focus on profitability and that includes looking at the agronomic side of things, the market demand and being aware of policy issues nationally and internationally as to market requirements.

He notes it's really important that we hear the views and develop recommendations around the views of the participants in this program taking into account the variability we have within the prairies, as well as the variability at the farm management level.

"We have climatic differences within the prairies, which make the suggestion that some things that are appropriate in a wetter area of the prairies don't fit for the dry areas. So you know, how do we start looking at these ecological differences? Our soils own differences in terms of how we measure things, and what behavior is going to give us the best outcome. We also know that farm practices (one side of the fence or the other) have a big impact. So you know, how we look at measuring things and how policies and market demands will be met."

Recommendations coming out of the forums will be included in a report to be released in 2024.

Bacon encourages producers to consider getting involved and being part of the process by visiting the Farmers for Climate Solutions website.

A group of randomly selected producers from those that express interest in getting involved will be invited to participate in the forums with (reasonable) travel, meals and accomodation expenses being covered.

To hear Glenda-Lee's discussion with Gordon Bacon click on the link below.