Letters: Buying carbon indulgences

I find David McInnes’s gushing about Canada’s record in food sustainability appears to be suspect. I duly note that he is under contract to 22 various and sundry special interest groups seeking some sort of good agribusiness seal of approval for food sustainability.

You report Maple Leaf Foods, of listeriosis infamy, buying indulgences in response to climate change. Paying industrial agribusiness to store carbon is window dressing. It is form over substance. Farmers should be managing the land in the pursuit of regenerative agriculture because that is their calling, not because a billionaire needs them for promotional purposes that will enhance his company’s status before a gullible media. On November 8, 2019 the Free Press published a story entitled “Maple Leaf Foods says it’s now carbon neutral.” Michael McCain gushed about his company’s concern for the environment. This is the company that got a special dispensation from Gary Filmon to destroy our locally sustainable hog-farming community in favour of the current model with an enormous carbon footprint, which in no way can be mitigated by writing a cheque to a foreign corporation.

The Globe and Mail of December 17, 2019 reported that BMO has consumed the Kool-Aid. Maple Leaf now qualifies for BMO’s “sustainability-linked” loans because of its ESG (environmental, social, governance) principles. However, to its credit, the Globe also noted that BMO did not audit, nor will it ever audit, Maple Leaf’s ESG performance. And if it otherwise observes ESG failure, Maple Leaf will endure no financial penalty on its “sustainability-linked” loans.

Farmers will benefit financially if they embrace regenerative agriculture. That’s unavoidable. Humans will secure our future because such agriculture can contribute enormously to the drawdown of our annual carbon production. Healing our soils worldwide will help to heal our climate and reverse insidious desertification. Michael McCain writing a tax-deductible cheque to Indigo Ag in Boston only guarantees a deposit to Indigo’s bank account and favourable media for Maple Leaf.

Restorative agriculture demands commitment. Will Manitoba farmers rise to the challenge? This spring, check out the landscape. You will see fields tilled as black as can be. You will see topsoil blowing into ditches. Shelterbelts being removed. Poison being applied. Drainage being accelerated. Wetlands destroyed. Carbon being surrendered to the atmosphere.

And Mr. McInnes boasts of our “sustainability credentials?”

That Maple Leaf, one of his clients, is part of a proposal to develop a “Canadian Agri-Food Sustainability Index” is terrifying.

C. Hugh Arklie
Cooks Creek

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