Agricultural producers are directly impacted by a changing climate, and therefore the agricultural industry is actively planning to contribute to GHG emissions reduction efforts. Within this sector, the main sources responsible for GHG emissions are livestock, application of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers and manure, fossil fuel combustion associated with farm machinery, and the manufacturing of fertilizers and farm machinery.
While methane emissions from livestock at local farms make up 5% of our local GHG inventory (and are counted as our local agriculture sector emissions), some of the emissions from the food we eat appear in other sections of our local inventory. These show up as business use of fossil fuels for farm operations, or when vehicles are used to transport food or food waste. While we have strong local food production, much of our food is made or grown elsewhere. The emissions used to make and grow food elsewhere and transport it to the region for us to eat can be significant and are important to address. We must consider emissions from our food systems holistically, and this includes expanding our local food system here in the region, considering our impacts in other communities from foods grown elsewhere, and making efforts to eat seasonally appropriate foods.
A significant way to reduce emissions caused by the food we eat is to make more of our food close to home. A locally based food system is also more resilient, as we are less reliant on supply chains from other parts of the world, and less vulnerable to changes or shocks in those systems.
We are fortunate in Waterloo Region to be a strong agricultural community, with land, people, and a food system that can serve as the foundation for a future where we make more of our own food.