Weather activities and patterns have been proven to be changing over the last number of decades. The unpredictability of intensity and increased frequency of extreme weather causes burden on agriculture, rural economy and food system as a whole. Agriculture can be used as one of the tools to mitigate stresses of severe weather activities and ought to be protected.
Severe weather activities cannot be easily planned for, and in many instances, crops are lost. These losses have ranged from frost and freeze damage as experienced throughout Nova Scotia in 2018 to drought conditions in southern Nova Scotia in 2016. With almost 18,000 acres of the Nova Scotia’s farm land protected by dykes, appropriate maintenance of dyke systems is necessary to ensure that good agriculture land is not lost to rising water levels. Nova Scotia has more than 7,000 km of coastline in addition to shoreline with rivers and fresh water bodies which is at risk of being lost or reduced due to expediated erosion from the more severe weather events.
Drought conditions have also been experienced and though impacted agriculture, farms can be part of the solution to protect communities from the severities of drought. Agriculture technology allows farms to have the capacity to store and manage water. Tile drainage is one tool that can be used to ensure that water is not lost to ground water sources but redirected to ponds. Having the capacity to store water and manage water resources during non-drought seasons will increase insurance of water availability for irrigated crops resulting in continued local employment and economic spin-off. Also, stored water on a farm can provide assistance in the local community in times of desperate need.
Agriculture can play a role in reducing atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions and can ensure a healthier environment. Tools such as wetlands can reduce pollutants into the natural environment and improving soil health can increase soil carbon sequestration. Farms play a role in environmental health, however, there is a cost to the farmer, which cannot be recouped in the market place.
Water is a critical component of producing agricultural goods and must be managed, with support from government, to ensure sustainability of the agriculture industry and rural economies. While many impacts of climate change are not easily mitigated, taking appropriate steps to manage what can be managed is critical to the resilience of the Agriculture Industry.
It shall be the policy of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture to work with government, industry and stakeholders to ensure that the Agriculture Industry of Nova Scotia has the capacity to manage water resources in light of climate change. The Federation will also lobby government to implement programs to support farms with on farm climate change mitigation strategies.