Member of Parliament and NDP ag critic Alistair MacGregor has introduced Bill C-290, a Private Member’s bill titled the Soil Conservation Act.
Citing the importance of soil as an essential resource to society and that healthy soils are the foundation of sustainable food production, MacGregor proposes the bill support the establishment of a national soil health strategy.
“We also know that restoring carbon into the soil, where it belongs, and out of the atmosphere, where it is causing havoc, is going to be an important part of the fight against climate change,” says MacGregor in an open letter. “Farmers are on the front lines of this fight, often among those who suffer its impacts first-hand through more frequent periods of droughts and flooding, and we need to recognize the important role they have in soil health management and carbon sequestration.”
In the bill itself, the strategy calls for including measures to analyze the status of Canada’s soils with respect to compaction, degradation, element composition, fertility, productivity, and soil ecology.
Collecting data on an ongoing basis in respect to carbon content and sequestration potential, as well as crop growth patterns and the effect, both on profitability and sustainability of various fertilizer, pest management strategies, and including tillage, is also part of the bill.
A national advocate for soil health, whose mandate would be to raise public awareness of the critical role soil plays in supporting agricultural productivity, is also recommended. The bill also calls for the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food to consult with Indigenous governments and other Indigenous bodies and organizations, as well as stakeholders in the industry.
MacGregor states that the bill seeks to support and encourage farmers and other land users in the “the use of best management practices that allow for the promotion of soil health and sustainability” including training in soil health and conservation, regenerative agriculture practices, and enhancing knowledge transfer and technical expertise in soil health.
The bill will also establish December 5 of each year as “National Soil Day” and the third week of April as “National Soil Conservation Week.”