Livestock producers can reduce fossil fuel use

February 16, 2016
By Farmscape

February 16, 2016, Winnipeg, Man – A Minto area farmer says livestock producers have an opportunity to contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases by reducing their use of fossil fuels.

In December, the Paris based International Meat Secretariat reaffirmed its commitment to tackling climate change by focusing on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

David Rourke, a Minto area farmer, told those on hand for the 2016 Manitoba Sustainable Energy Association Conference and Annual General Meeting, to meet global greenhouse gas reduction targets, it will be necessary to reduce our fossil fuel use by 90 per cent by about 2030 and suggests a carbon tax, in the range of $240, could provide the incentive to accomplish that.

“Livestock producers, particularly cattle producers, have a real opportunity to build the soil, to really sequester carbon and reduce fuel use,” says Rourke. “Hog barns are energy intensive operations for heating, cooling so there will be an opportunity to use alternative energies, solar power, wind power, use of anaerobic digesters.

“If we are going to get away from fossil fuels and there is a $240 carbon tax, then a lot of things that may not have been economical, such as an anaerobic digester, become more feasible.

“We also have to remember though in Manitoba we're kind of uniquely situated in terms of renewable hydro electric power and that has been very hard to compete with,” he says. “It sounds like kind of going back to the past but I think we're going to need every bit of technology, every bit of innovation that we can muster to be able to really truly be farming in a zero carbon economy.”

Rourke acknowledges this will be a hard sell because farmers are so dependant on fossil fuels but they need to press governments to follow through on greenhouse gas reduction commitments and on farms and in cities to make sure people leave this world in a state that their great-grandchildren can survive.

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