Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

November 08, 2007 16:44 ET

The Government of Canada Helps Farmers Protect Saskatchewan's Natural Landscape

REGINA, SASKATCHEWAN--(Marketwire - Nov. 8, 2007) - The Honourable Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board, today announced support for a new project that will help producers achieve positive environmental outcomes on their agricultural land in Saskatchewan. Minister Ritz made this announcement during his speech to the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities at their mid-term convention.

"Our farmers know that farm stewardship and economic growth go hand in hand, and that is why they understand the importance of protecting and enhancing Saskatchewan's natural landscape," said Minister Ritz. "This is why I am proud to announce funding for a pilot project with the Lower Souris Watershed Committee, which will measure the feasibility and benefits of various approaches to environmental stewardship."

The Lower Souris Watershed Committee will receive more than $530,000 in funding from the Government of Canada to undertake an Ecological Goods and Services (EG&S) pilot project. The Committee will create an inventory of the agricultural land uses and determine the most effective tools to achieve positive environmental outcomes.

"Local agriculture producer co-operation and strong industry partnerships will be key to the success of this project," said Sheldon Kyle, Watershed Coordinator, Lower Souris River Watershed Committee. "This research project is designed to aid in our understanding of how future Ecological Goods and Services programs can be utilized to achieve desired environmental outcomes."

This study is one of eight EG&S pilot projects being carried out across the country that will assist in measuring the feasibility and benefits of various approaches to environmental stewardship.


Ecological Goods and Services

What are Ecological Goods and Services?

Ecological Goods and Services (EG&S) are the positive environmental benefits that Canadians derive from healthy ecosystems, including clean water and air, and enhanced biodiversity. Agriculture is both a beneficiary and a provider of EG&S. For example, farming's viability depends on ecosystem processes like soil renewal, climate regulation, and precipitation. At the same time, well-managed agricultural lands can provide benefits to society as a whole, such as the protection of wildlife habitat and biodiversity, preservation of scenic views, and purification of air and water through natural processes.

What activities will be undertaken as part of this pilot project?

The main objective of this EG&S pilot project by the Lower Souris Watershed Committee is to create an inventory of agricultural land uses and determine the most effective tools to achieve positive environmental outcomes such as cleaner water, soil renewal and protection of wildlife habitat.

Specifically, the project will:

- set landscape goals for the quality and quantity of riparian, aspen parkland and tame grassland for wildlife habitat in the Lower Souris Watershed area,

- use on-farm data to determine the farmers' costs involved in achieving these landscapes to benefit the environment, and

- determine the most effective tools required.

This EG&S pilot project, along with the others across the country, will assist in measuring the cost-effectiveness, environmental effectiveness and feasibility of various approaches to EG&S. They will aid in the development, evaluation and improvement of EG&S policy.

Earlier projects to test the concept of Agri-Environmental Group Planning were also carried out in the Lower Souris Watershed. These projects were very successful and this EG&S pilot builds on these partnership efforts.

How do governments support EG&S related activities?

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) recognizes the contributions of farmers and rural landowners in protecting and enhancing the environment. The Government of Canada funds a number of programs and initiatives that provide assistance to farmers for EG&S activities.

AAFC is working with provincial and territorial governments to develop a framework for policies that are good for agriculture and that provide environmental benefits for all Canadians. Key elements of this work include research and pilot projects supported through AAFC's Advancing Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food (ACAAF) program.

Supporting EG&S-related activities also involves focussing on environmental objectives that are based on recognized scientific knowledge, that take regional issues and perspectives as well as societal concerns into account.

In March 2007, the Prime Minister of Canada announced a $225 million investment in a national campaign to acquire and preserve ecologically sensitive land. Recognized conservation groups will be identified to work towards this common goal. In addition, tax exemptions announced during Budget 2006 for donations of ecologically sensitive lands provide further incentives for Canadians to help preserve our environment.

Contact Information

  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Media Relations
    The Office of the Honourable Gerry Ritz
    Patrick J. McCloskey
    Press Secretary