Seniors’ voices are a powerful asset and can be used to push for change in all levels of government and in private corporations. Policy changes rarely happen on their own. They require the strong voices and stronger resolve of citizens willing to fight for climate action.
Spotlight on: Brent Preston and Farmers for Climate Solutions
How does an organization that’s been around for just over a year get its recommendations in Canada’s 2021 budget?
According to Brent Preston, president of the Ecological Farmers of Ontario (a Climate Legacy member) and a founding member of Farmers for Climate Solutions (FCS), a lot of work, a lot of luck and some good timing.
“Farmers for Climate solutions came together…to create a coalition to advocate for policy change that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase resilience in agriculture,” said Brent in a recent interview with Climate Legacy.
Farmers for Climate Solutions is a national alliance of farmer organizations and supporters. Groups from Atlantic Canada to B.C. joined in an effort to push for political action that would support farmers to lower their emissions.
According to FCS, the agriculture sector is responsible for 12% of Canada’s greenhouse emissions.
The group’s original focus was going to be the Agricultural Policy Framework; a pan-Canadian, federal-provincial-territorial policy initiative that supports agricultural development across the country.
But, “they only revise it every five years,” said Brent. “We have to do something now. We thought getting some substantial funding in the budget could help us lay the groundwork for the policy framework.”
The organization assembled a task force of farmers, policy experts and climate modellers to come up with a proposal for the 2021 budget.
“The task force started last September and started out by identifying what we could ask for. We went for the low hanging fruit: things that were proven to have good data behind them and that farmers were already familiar with,” said Brent.
This included better nitrogen management, cover cropping, management of intensive grazing, moving away from diesel and preserving wetlands and trees on farmland.
“We did a big media campaign, putting farmers in front of the media across the country, and there was a lot of buy-in from ministries,” said Brent.
“The long and the short of it is that we didn’t get all of the money we asked for, but we got a substantial amount of money and the government directly referring to our proposals and buying in to the idea of reducing agriculture emissions right away.”
Brent’s big takeaway from the whole success is that we are in a real moment for climate action. That, and there’s real power in organizing.
“You have to be deliberate and strategic about what you want to achieve. I’ve often head this…but to see it from the inside has been really fascinating.”
FCS isn’t going anywhere and is currently helping the government figure out the implementation plan for their 2021 budget recommendations. They will continue to prepare for the Agriculture Policy Framework revisions in 2023.
“We have so many incredibly smart and committed farmers and people who run farming organizations,” said Brent. “It’s just such a pleasure to work with these people from all over the country, they are what has made this coalition so effective.”
In many cases, advocating for change at the government level is key to making real change for a sustainable future. Many groups in our network focus on government advocacy.
- Farmer’s for Climate Solutions, an umbrella organization for farmer groups across Canada (including our network member the EFAO) recently drafted a proposal asking the Federal Government for $270 million to go towards agricultural climate solutions. Their proposal was included in the 2021 federal budget, a big win for farmers and for Canada’s climate! Read more about where the money is going here.
- Citizen’s Climate Lobby (NCR-Ottawa) is dedicated to lobbying for a carbon fee and dividend at the federal level. They train citizens to write compelling op-eds, to build relationships with elected officials and to educate others on the importance of a low-carbon future. Find out more here.
- The Grandmothers’ Advocacy Network is a dynamic network of volunteers from across Canada working together to influence policy change and stimulate effective action in Canada to protect human rights of grandmothers, children and youth in Sub-Saharan Africa. Get involved today!
When trying to get corporations to take climate action, one of the most powerful actions seniors can take is to voice your concern on social media and move your money to other, more green-oriented companies.
- Check out this video about how the Eco-Elders of Calgary used their voices to advocate against the Grassy Mountain Coal Project in Alberta.
- Send a letter to RBC and TD asking them to disclose timelines and transparent plans to stop funding of fossil fuel projects, sacrificing our climate to make a profit and our grandchildren’s futures.