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FMC report identifies risks and opportunities of climate change for agriculture

June 28, 2022  By Fruit & Vegetable

Farm Management Canada (FMC) recently released a report titled “Seeds of Change – Shifting Diets & Soil Carbon Sequestration Markets: How Climate Change is Driving New Opportunities and Risks in Agriculture.”

Climate change is driving shifts in Canadian agriculture and food consumption at an increasingly rapid pace, introducing new opportunities and risks that were unanticipated just a few years ago. Traditional forecasting methods fail when the future looks nothing like the past. When faced with this kind of uncertainty, how can we best manage risk?

Farm Management Canada’s Roots to Success project responded to this challenge by undertaking a foresight exercise focused on farms and ranches. The project was initiated in 2019 with the goal of improving risk management for the agriculture and agri-food sector by investing in education and training that promotes a comprehensive approach to managing risk. The project also works to establish industry benchmarks using baseline data to identify opportunities for policy and program improvement to meet the risk management needs of Canada’s farmers.

Weak signals or seeds of change are defined in foresight analysis as the first indicators of change that may become significant in the future. Members of FMC’s National Risk Management Roundtable participated in a horizon scan exercise that identified eight weak signals driven by climate change. Two of these signals were identified as priorities by roundtable members:

  • Canadians are shifting their diet to include more fruit, vegetables and non-animal protein alternatives (for both health and environmental reasons); and
  • Soil carbon sequestration markets will become an opportunity for the agriculture sector.

In the report, both priority signals were then used to build future scenarios that indicate potential outcomes should the signal become the norm. Resulting opportunities and risks to farmers and ranchers were then identified, along with recommendations for support strategies that FMC, other similar organizations and governments can provide.

The value of this foresight exercise is two-fold. First, it identifies indicators that should be monitored to alert decision-makers on whether these scenarios are becoming a reality. Secondly, it provides an indication of the consequences that can be anticipated and managed accordingly. This will prove cost-effective for farmers and ranchers, government and other stakeholders in a context where the speed of change is only increasing and requires proactive planning and responsiveness in order to manage risk and seize opportunity.

The report is available in summarized form or in its entirety through the FMC website.

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