First Session, Forty-fourth Parliament,
70 Elizabeth II, 2021
HOUSE OF COMMONS OF CANADA
BILL C-203
An Act respecting soil conservation and soil health
FIRST READING, November 29, 2021
Mr. MacGregor
441014


SUMMARY

This enactment requires the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food to develop a national strategy to promote efforts across Canada to conserve and improve the health of soil. It also provides for reporting requirements in relation to the strategy.
In addition, the enactment provides that December 5, in each year, is to be known as “World Soil Day” across Canada and establishes the third week in April, in each year, as “National Soil Conservation Week”.
Available on the House of Commons website at the following address:
www.ourcommons.ca


1st Session, 44th Parliament,
70 Elizabeth II, 2021
HOUSE OF COMMONS OF CANADA
BILL C-203
An Act respecting soil conservation and soil health

Preamble

Whereas climate change is causing shifting global weather patterns, bringing unseasonably high precipitation levels and more frequent droughts;
Whereas these changing weather patterns are having an adverse impact on agricultural producers;
Whereas agricultural practices are capable of restoring ecosystem processes, including water, mineral and energy cycling, thereby improving soil health and creating optimal growing conditions for food and fuel;
Whereas regenerative soil management practices can sequester carbon, increase soil health, and reduce soil erosion;
Whereas Canada is a member of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, which has adopted the World Soil Charter, which calls on national governments to adopt measures in relation to soil health and conservation;
Whereas, in December 2013, the United Nations General Assembly designated December 5, 2014, as the first official World Soil Day;
And whereas the Government of Canada is committed to raising public awareness of the importance of improving and sustaining soil health and, through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, to helping farmers adapt to climate change and conserve water and soil;
Now, therefore, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:

Short Title

Short title
1This Act may be cited as the Soil Conservation Act.

Interpretation

Definition of Minister
2In this Act, Minister means the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

National Strategy — Soil Conservation

Development
3(1)The Minister must develop a national strategy to promote efforts across Canada to conserve and improve the health of soil.
Consultation
(2)In developing the strategy, the Minister must consult with representatives of provincial governments responsible for agriculture and agri-food, Indigenous governments and other Indigenous bodies and organizations, and stakeholders in the agriculture and agri-food industry, including agricultural and agribusiness organizations.
Content
(3)The strategy must include measures to
(a)analyze, using appropriate evidence-based assessments, the status of Canada’s soils, including in respect of compaction, degradation, element composition, fertility, productivity and soil ecology;
(b)collect data, on an ongoing basis, on the soil health of public and, subject to permission from the landowner, private land, including in respect of carbon content and sequestration potential, as well as on crop growth patterns and the effect, both on profitability and sustainability, of various fertilizer, weed and pest management strategies, including tillage;
(c)maintain, enhance and rebuild the capacity of soils to produce food and fuel in a manner that is both regenerative and profitable, to support ecosystems processes and to meet the needs of future generations;
(d)support and encourage farmers and other land users in the use of best management practices that promote soil health and sustainability, including by
(i)supporting research programs that provide evidence to guide the development and implementation of regenerative soil management practices,
(ii)providing education and training in soil health and conservation for agricultural producers and professionals,
(iii)enhancing knowledge transfer and the availability of technical assistance to agricultural producers and soil managers who work in soil health, and
(iv)promoting Indigenous stewardship and conservation practices and the sharing of Indigenous knowledge of the soil;
(e)where appropriate, incorporate the principles and practices of regenerative soil management into policy guidance and legislation;
(f)improve communication and sharing of soil knowledge, including by developing a national soil information system; and
(g)promote the sharing of information with all Canadians on the importance of healthy soil and the direct impact it has on their lives.
National advocate for soil health
(4)The strategy must also include recommendations in relation to the appointment of a national advocate for soil health, whose mandate would be to raise public awareness of the critical role soil plays in supporting agricultural productivity, in maintaining healthy ecosystems and in meeting global challenges, including food security and climate change.

Reports to Parliament

Tabling of national strategy
4(1)Within two years after the day on which this Act comes into force, the Minister must prepare a report setting out the national strategy and cause it to be tabled in each House of Parliament on any of the first 15 days on which that House is sitting after it is completed.
Publication
(2)The Minister must publish the report on the website of the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food within 10 days after it has been tabled in both Houses of Parliament.
Report
5Within three years after the report referred to in section 4 has been tabled in both Houses of Parliament, and every three years after that, the Minister must, in consultation with the parties referred to in subsection 3(2), prepare a report on the effectiveness of the national strategy that sets out the Minister’s conclusions and recommendations, and cause the report to be tabled in each House of Parliament on any of the first 15 days on which that House is sitting after it is completed.

World Soil Day and National Soil Conservation Week

Designation
6Throughout Canada, in each year, the fifth day of December is to be known as “World Soil Day” and the third week of April is to be known as “National Soil Conservation Week”.‍
Published under authority of the Speaker of the House of Commons