Media Contact: Trudy Kelly Forsythe
Forages Important Resource for Canada's Economy and Environment
Environmental benefits of forages include ability to reduce carbon pollution, reduce fertilizer use and control soil erosion
FREDERICTON, N.B. (Oct. 18, 2016) - Economically, with a direct value of $5.09 billion, forages are Canada's third largest crop. Studies on the monetary value of their environmental impact indicate they double that worth. As Canada considers the recently proposed federal plan for pricing carbon pollution, forage producers across the country want to stress the environmental good their sector offers.
"When environment is discussed, forages and grasses are brought up more and more often because of their environmental benefits," says Cedric MacLeod, executive director of the Canadian Forage and Grassland Association and a beef farmer in western New Brunswick.
Perennial forage crops help reduce carbon because their root systems can store up to 2.7 times more carbon than annual crops. They also sequester carbon deeper in the ground and, because less tilling is done on forage and grassland fields, slow the breakdown and release of carbon into the atmosphere. A study of the Alberta forage industry revealed the province could generate approximately $14 million in the provincial carbon offset market, pending the approval of forage-related offset protocols.
"Because of the magic of forages, they make agriculture one of the only industries that can actually put valuable nutrients back into the ecosystem," MacLeod adds. "So while livestock producers are often criticized for high greenhouse gas emissions, an effective forage management system can help offset emissions."
Other environmental benefits of forages and grasslands include reduced nitrogen fertilizer costs and the energy costs associated with applying nutrients, increased soil quality, better control of soil erosion and improved water filtration and internal drainage. There are also growing opportunities for forages as a source of biomass fuel and biomaterials which can help reduce Canada's dependence on fossil fuels.
The CFGA's 7th annual conference in Winnipeg Nov. 15 to 17 will highlight the Canadian forage and grassland sector's economic and environmental contribution to Canada. International Institute for Sustainable Development director Dimple Roy will delve further into the economic and social benefits from grasslands during the conference in her presentation entitled An Ecological Goods and Services Perspective for Canadian Grasslands. She speaks on Nov. 17 at 10:30 a.m.
Canadian Forage and Grassland Association
Incorporated in 2010, the Canadian Forage and Grassland Association provides a national voice for all Canadians who produce hay and forage products and for those whose production is dependent upon forage/grassland production.