Canada's moonshot — leveraging our sustainability advantage

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Canada is a global player in food production and boasts a competitive advantage over many in how we produce what we do, but what do we have to do to take us even further regarding ag sustainability?

Alanna Koch, chair of the Global Institute for Food Security based at Saskatoon and farmer from Edenwold, moderated a panel at the Future of Food event held at Ottawa for Canada’s Ag Day, that tackled that question.

“We were saying that Canada’s moonshot is is about the opportunity that comes out of sustainability and the fact that Canada is a leader in agricultural sustainability,” Koch says.

While it’s fine to talk about environmental goals and benefits, driving change in the agriculture market must be viewed through an economic lens, she says.

“Some of it becomes sort of a little prescriptive: ‘We want you to do this, this and this. But you don’t get a premium for that.’ I think that’s a challenge for us. As farmers, we know, we’re constantly investing constantly innovating. The return has to come from the market,” Koch says.

As the fifth largest agricultural exporter in the world, market access will always be a driver of what happens on farm, however, for many of the food and ingredient companies looking to capitalize on sustainability there has to be a financial return on the changes farmers make.

“We’ve got to do the right thing [but] there has to be value in doing the right thing. How do we make sure everybody benefits along the value chain?” Koch says.

Farmers who see the value in adopting change, or verifying the changes they are making, will need to see the financial benefit of doing so because ultimately economic viability is another pillar of sustainability.

 

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