A pantry that dangers emptying with out electoral commitments


Social gathering leaders have proven little curiosity in agriculture to this point. Nevertheless, severe threats grasp over the agricultural lands of Quebec.

On his farm in Brownsburg-Chatham, within the coronary heart of the Laurentians, the “backyard of Quebec”, cattle producer Stéphane Guay has by no means been in such a rush to speed up the flip taken to save lots of the wealth of his most stunning land.


Two years in the past, checks revealed that a few of his 160 hectares of fields had grow to be “resistant” to herbicides. The extent of natural matter there was in free fall. “I did every part with out assist, to reverse what we had been doing right here for 3 generations. We have all the time considered “yield per acre”, to not point out the large quantities of fertilizers and their affect on the setting. Transformed to regenerative agriculture and inexperienced manures—these crops that repair nitrogen and different vitamins to nourish the soil—this pleased cattle and soybean producer has discovered his smile once more since investing sooner or later and the ” well being” of his land.

In its verdant meadows now develop plantain, clover, chicory, daikon and different delicacies for picky cattle. The 85 cows of the Guayclair farm and their younger now frolic within the open air, grazing 45 hectares of pure pasture, the place perennials and fruit bushes develop, which regenerate the soil “at no cost”. No extra doses of dewormers for its stunning ruminants, whose dung, as soon as sterile, is now full of micro-organisms that revitalize its land.

“It is unhappy that the events aren’t involved about that and put so little emphasis on the destiny of what feeds folks,” laments Stéphane Guay.

A couple of dozen kilometers away, a number of the blackest soil within the St. Lawrence plain crumbles. Some have misplaced as much as 1 meter of fertile soil in 50 years, a consequence attributable to poor agricultural practices. If nothing is finished, in 60 years, they are going to have disappeared. The risk hanging over the pantry of Quebecers doesn’t appear to shake the candidates, he notes with astonishment.

The affect of the plan for sustainable agriculture launched in 2020 by the CAQ stays marginal for the second, thinks Stéphane Guay. “It is good to have a program to undertake inexperienced manures, however inside hours all of the subsidies have been used up,” he says. Just one,800 of the 29,000 farms in Quebec have been in a position to profit from quantities to cease the deterioration of their land.

Close to Sorel, cereal and grain producer Paul Caplette can be not form to politicians’ guarantees. “There aren’t many individuals who come to the sector right here in rubber boots to know our challenges. It took some elbow grease to domesticate its 360 hectares (corn, soybeans, corn and legumes) with out fertilizers, cut back the usage of pesticides by 30%, and slash its emissions by a 3rd. of GHG. “I did higher than Quebec and with out assist. But it surely took 40 years! he factors out. We totally subsidize natural, however not those that work to be extra sustainable and feed much more folks for much less. »

An opinion shared by Carole-Anne Lapierre, meals methods specialist at Équiterre. “It might be higher to assist extra farms that are usually extra sustainable than to ‘focus’ on the natural sector, which reaches only a few folks. »

Autonomy or self-sufficiency?

Within the bouquet of electoral guarantees, meals autonomy has grow to be a leitmotif. And for good motive, Quebec being very removed from the mark. Quebecers solely eat 35% of what’s grown on their territory, and the remainder is exported, based on a report produced in 2020 for the CIRANO group. Autonomy climbs to 51%, if we embrace meals ready right here… with imported merchandise.

Solely 2% of land in Quebec has agricultural zoning, and half is monopolized by the cultivation of grains and oilseeds (soya, canola, sunflower) supposed for three-quarters of livestock (73%). The Quebec agricultural mannequin is way from with the ability to feed its inhabitants, says Patrick Mundler, creator of this report and professor of agri-food economics at Laval College.

François Legault mentioned he was shocked that Quebec imported half of its grocery basket throughout his go to to the Union of Agricultural Producers. His authorities, just like the earlier ones, nonetheless totally funds the sectors deliberate for export. In entrance of the identical ground, the curator Éric Duhaime apologized for having already shunned provide administration. As for the solidarity Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, he sowed concern together with his proposed 35% tax on estates of greater than one million {dollars}, whereas a median farm is value triple in Quebec. “Farms will probably be exempt,” he mentioned the subsequent day.

Feed Quebec

A number of electoral applications evade sure elementary questions, believes Patrick Mundler. “We should additionally query the usage of our land. We export to dwell, however we’ve to import to eat,” he notes. A actuality just lately exacerbated by the well being disaster and the battle in Ukraine. Nearly all of the events promise to cease the dezoning, however keep away from the essence, he thinks. “The legislation protects the amount of land, however not the standard or range of crops. We do not care who grows what, or who abuses pesticides or fertilizers. »

Underneath the pretext of aiming for meals self-sufficiency – an idea not laid out in a number of applications – the events, specifically the CAQ and the PQ, are proposing to multiply greenhouse cultivation. “To completely subsidize two or three giants in order that they produce tomatoes or cucumbers in greenhouses all 12 months spherical, however which should import extra labour, pesticides and equipment to take action, is that basically that autonomy? asks the economist.

Placing tradition underneath glass can be incongruous from an environmental viewpoint, thinks Carole-Anne Lapierre. “A tomato produced in a greenhouse right here generates extra GHGs than one grown in Mexico. Greenhouses are energy-intensive, they require extra fertilizers and supplies. It might be extra sustainable to favor easy methods and encourage folks to eat extra seasonal greens. »

Meals autonomy over the shoulder, the Legault authorities paid $3 million to PepsiCo to provide “native chips” and $2 million to Kraft to simmer ketchup in Quebec. “Autonomy should not grow to be a pretext for every part; it might be a good selection for the native economic system, however not for well being,” mentioned Stone. “We have to do greater than substitute meals from elsewhere with meals from right here, we additionally want to provide in a sustainable manner,” says Mr. Mundler.

Spend money on data

The expansion of the MAPAQ funds, from $484 million to $684 million in 4 years, has resulted in a bounce in subsidies underneath the Legault authorities. On this marketing campaign, the CAQ promised so as to add 50 million to assist younger farmers and 100 million to its sustainable agriculture plan. However the agronomist and whistleblower Louis Robert – who denounced the affect of the pesticide and fertilizer foyer with the MAPAQ and agronomists – judges that the events are lacking the boat by promising to make subsidies rain. “Farmers have a a lot larger want for expertise transfers and know-how to enhance their soils. Information makes it doable to cut back the usage of pesticides by 40%,” he says. “For a similar crops, in Quebec we fertilize 3 times greater than Ontario, and 6 instances greater than the USA. It’s not regular. »

One factor is for certain, Denys Van Winden, a market gardener from Sherrington who has been working for years with researchers to save lots of the black soils in his nook of Montérégie, will not be fooled. “I’ve by no means acquired a penny for this and I’ve not but seen a politician come right here to see what is going on. For me, it’s clear that we must always not vote for what we’re promised tomorrow morning, however for many who will save our lands for the subsequent generations. »

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