For the past year, the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Crops has been developing a voluntary code of practice for Canada’s grain industry, called Responsible Grain. The process has brought together stakeholders from across Canada, including farmers, agronomists, commodity organizations and industry representatives. Consultations on the draft code are taking place now through February so there is a limited time to get involved.
“It’s prudent for farmers to get involved in the consultation process so they can shape the final version of the code,” says Cheryl Mayer, director of policy development at Canadian Canola Growers Association. “The consultation seeks to find out how the practices outlined in Responsible Grain will work on many different farms across Canada.” The consultation is also seeking input from other members in the grain supply chain, including grain handlers, processors and consumers.
Responsible Grain is a voluntary, science-based code of practice, which outlines both required and recommended on-farm management practices that show Canadian grain farmers’ care and commitment to the environment and sustainability. It is a baseline of modern agronomic practices to maintain healthy soil, clean air and water, respect wildlife and provide a safe work environment on Canadian farms. The code includes seven separate modules and addresses various management areas, including nutrient management, pest and pesticide management, soil and water management, land use and wildlife, and human health and wellness.
“Responsible Grain has been proactively developed in response to an increasing demand for information about sustainable production practices,” says Taryn Dickson, Canola Council of Canada resource manager, crop production and innovation. “It builds upon our existing reputation for quality and can help build public trust in Canadian-grown crops, both at home and abroad, by expanding our ability to share our sustainability story.”
A recent 2020 public trust study published by the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity found that when it comes to Canadian consumers “sustainability in food is not just a trend but a requirement to be a trusted and successful food system player.” The study found that 47 per cent of consumers say they actively seek out food items that have a minimal environmental impact, and 45 per cent of consumers believe that sustainable food has a positive impact on the environment.
Farmers who want to learn more about Responsible Grain and participate in the consultation can do so without leaving the farm. The virtual consultation includes three components: (1) a 60-minute orientation and feedback session (Online orientation sessions, which will cover why the code was developed and what it is intended to do, are January 7, January 14 and January 21), (2) an online work space where participants can work through one or all seven of the code of practice modules and submit their comments, and (3) a final virtual wrap-up session.