2020- 2022 Policy Process | Green Party of Canada
Where GPC membership collaborates to develop our policies
G21-P002 Phase Out Subsidies to Animal Agriculture
This proposal was sent to workshop at VGM Phase 2. There was insufficient time for this proposal to be considered by membership at the VGM. This proposal will not be included in the ratification vote.
The GPC supports phasing out subsidies to the animal agriculture industry through a fair and just transition, encouraging the production of alternatives to that industry’s animal products, and revising the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act to include all GHG emissions from the animal agriculture industry.
The objective is to reduce and eventually eliminate subsidies to an industry that has been shown to be a significant contributor to climate change, and in the other direction, to encourage plant-based alternatives that are better for human health as well as the health of the planet.
In addition to the benefits re climate change and human health, such policies will shift government support towards forms of agriculture that are in many other respects more environmentally friendly and sustainable, and that have no association with zoonotic pandemics.
Supporting Comments from Submitter
Subsidizing any industry makes a difference. Phasing out subsidies to the animal agriculture industry (currently in the billions of dollars ) and increasing support for plant-based alternatives would level the playing field such that the consumption of animal products would decrease and the consumption of plant-based alternatives increase.
The Food and Agriculture Organization Association of the United Nations has concluded that the emissions impact of livestock alone represents 14.5 percent of all anthropogenic GHG emissions. (2) A recent study published in Science of GHG and other environmental impacts of different sorts of agriculture concluded that “most strikingly, impacts of even the lowest-impact animal products typically exceed those of vegetable substitutes.” (3) Policy measures to reduce livestock production through the phasing out of subsidies to animal agriculture would represent substantial GHG emissions savings. Animal agriculture has an outsized effect on our ecological footprint. 50% of the habitable land on earth is used for agriculture. Of that, 70% is used for animal agriculture including feed. This sector produces only 18% of the caloric supply of humans and 37% of the protein supply. If we obtained all our nutrients from plant-based agriculture, 63% of the land currently used for agriculture could be returned to nature or reforested.
A combination of subsidies and taxes would be the most effective approach to reduce the production and consumption of unhealthy and unsustainable food, correcting the artificial costs currently associated with healthy, sustainable food; in The Global Consultation Report (2019), the Food and Land Use Coalition explicitly recommends carbon pricing to include food and land use systems, arguing such a framework for carbon pricing could be expected to significantly curb the production of the most polluting food products.1
Greens in Germany, the UK and elsewhere have recognized these realities and are calling for an end to all subsidies to animal agriculture. The current structure of subsidies to animal agriculture makes healthier, more sustainable food production more expensive, artificially reducing the price of animal products. This clearly has negative health consequences for persons of limited means; it is therefore both a health issue and an equity issue for our party.
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has unanimously adopted Just Transition as a framework for climate change challenges, laying the groundwork for further application of the framework in the animal agriculture industry. It is established Green Party policy that individuals and communities dependent upon industries that are contributing negatively to the achievement of global carbon targets should receive assistance in the interests of a Just Transition. In this case, support may be required for farmers, workers, and communities impacted by the shift.
Funds diverted from animal agriculture subsidies may be applied to assisting those making the transition—as well as to investments in innovative practices such as geothermal greenhouse technology and closed-loop regenerative agriculture, which also produces renewable energy.1 Most subsidies are collected by large industrial producers. The ending of subsidies and the introduction of effective fees on GHG emissions can be expected to raise costs for those large animal agriculture operations relative to costs for producers of vegetables, fruits, grains and pulses, as well as small animal agriculture operations.
1. The Food and Land Use Coalition. (2019). Growing Better: Ten Critical Transitions to Transform Food and Land Use, The Global Consultation Report of the Food and Land Use Coalition [White Paper].
https://www.foodandlandusecoalition.org/global-report/. [A helpful summary of the impact of the report is Damian Carrington, “$1m a Minute: Farming Subsidies Destroying the World – Report,” The Guardian, 16 September 2019 https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/16/1m-a-minute-the-farming-subsidies-destroying-the-world.]
2. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. “Key Facts and Findings.”
3. J. Poore and T. Nemecek, “Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers,” Science, 22 February 2019
https://science.sciencemag.org/content/360/6392/987. [Several accessible summaries of the most important results from this huge, ground-breaking study are available; see, for example, Daisy Dunne, What is the climate impact of eating meat and dairy? Carbon Brief: Food and Climate Change Interactive, September, 2020 https://interactive.carbonbrief.org/what-is-the-climate-impact-of-eating-meat-and-dairy/?utm_source=web&utm_medium=referal&utm_campaign=FoodContentBox.]
4. Hannah Ritchie, “Half of the world’s habitable land is used for agriculture,” [summarizing data from the UN Food and Agriculture organization], Our World in Data, November 11, 2019
5. Charlotte E. Blattner, “Just Transition for agriculture? A critical step in tackling climate change,” Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, Spring 2020
Ecological Wisdom, Sustainability
Relation to Existing Policy
Add to current GPC policy
List of Endorsements
Report inappropriate content
Is this content inappropriate?