Skip to content

Opinion: Rethinking how to approach sustainability, climate change

What those words now mean is anyone’s guess.
spring wheat
The success of Canadian wheat may at some point be contingent on the agricultural sector’s stance on issues such as climate change, carbon and sustainability.

Climate change — are you still reading?

Sustainability — am I now in the recycling bin?

How about the word carbon — what does that elicit?

These words have frenzied the agriculture industry. Correction: these words are currently frenzying the agriculture industry. They are important. They are divisive. And they are words that long ago shed their dictionary definitions. What they now mean is anyone’s guess.

The industry needs to reset the clock. It needs to put on its sunglasses, pull out that memory-erasing device, take us back in time a few years and then send us home for a good night’s sleep.

This would give all those agricultural groups that have been tirelessly attempting to unite the industry around sustainability, climate change and the various issues related to carbon time to rethink their strategies and do a much better job at uniting us the second time around.

Today, sustainability, climate change and carbon are topics for discussion. Tomorrow, they will be policies that, by nature of being policies, do not care whether you believe in them or not.

Other markets do, though. The success of Canadian wheat may, at some point, be contingent on our stance on these issues. I know enough climate change deniers that would not be swayed by science, but would change their minds in a heartbeat if it meant their grain was guaranteed a home and a premium.

Right now, Canadian ag is dealing with something that just can’t look good from the outside. I don’t mean lawyers and doctors living in big cities taking a peek at what Canada’s farmers are up to.

The industry’s discord is being highlighted to our trade partners, such as the European Union, United States, Asia, Brazil and others. For example, issues like our inability to unite around anything more complex than not wearing a mask is the basis for a short documentary on Canadian ag that is currently screening internationally.

This is the industry right now. Imagine it. There are agriculture group leaders that are trying to convince their members and boards to get involved while not being convinced themselves. Farmers who are not willing to bend a knee. Board members who are also trying to convince others while not really understanding or being fully loyal to the cause themselves.

Amid this, some believe and are vocally in favour; some don’t even think we need to pretend to believe; and others define sustainability differently than everyone else.

I don’t have the answer but I know that the industry has taken some initiatives related to upcoming sustainability, climate change and carbon-related mandates and ran with them too fast, leaving a heck of a lot of farmers behind.

If given the power, I would be tempted to use some sort of Men in Black memory-erasing gadget to deliver us all back to ground zero on these issues. Then again, I’m not sure how sustainable that would

To take a closer look at this scenario, join me online on to examine some of the situations our industry finds itself in and maybe have some fun with it.

Toban Dyck farms in southern Manitoba and shares his thoughts through media platforms.


push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks