Responsible Grain is an initiative that will enhance Canada’s reputation as a provider of high-quality food that is environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.

It is a science-based Code of Practice developed to address grain buyer and customer priorities, but to also provide practical solutions that support farms in continual improvement.

Adopting Responsible Grain practices helps farmers respond to consumers and grain buyers who value sustainability.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

WHAT IS RESPONSIBLE GRAIN?

Responsible Grain is a voluntary, science-based Code of Practice that demonstrates Canadian grain farmers’ care and commitment to the environment. It is a baseline of practices that will allow farmers to use the best modern agronomic practices to maintain healthy soil, clean air and water, respect native wildlife and provide a safe work environment for everyone involved on your farm.

Responsible Grain is a proactive approach that takes the leadership of Canadian farmers one step further, providing a national Code of Practice for sustainable grain, oilseed and special crops production. The standards in Responsible Grain will be kept current and will be reviewed and updated on a regular basis, giving farmers the most current science-based information to optimize stewardship practices.

It contains both required and recommended practices.

  • Many of the required standards are already set out in various regulations that farmers currently follow.
  • Recommended practices help farmers go even further to both protect and improve the health of our environment. Adopting Responsible Grain practices may not mean a lot of change for some farm operations. 

Modules included in Responsible Grain cover a range of best practices related to the environment and people:

  • Nutrient Management
  • Pest and Pesticide Management
  • Soil Management
  • Water Management
  • Seed Selection and Use
  • Land Use and Wildlife
  • Human Health and Wellness

Climate change (greenhouse gas emissions) is integrated into several of these categories.

WHAT KINDS OF PRACTICES ARE INCLUDED?

Each Module of the draft Code of Practice contains several required and recommended practices. Here is an example of each from the Nutrient Management module:

  • Required Practice: Where required by law, perform representative soil sampling as per provincial requirements; otherwise, complete a representative soil test (per field) at least every 5 years.
  • Recommended Practice: Test soil for each field using a representative sample at least every 3 years.
WHY IS IT BEING DEVELOPED?

Responsible Grain is being developed to proactively promote continuous improvement in the environmental sustainability and social responsibility of Canadian farms. The Code of Practice also addresses issues that are of interest or concern to grain buyers and consumers, both in Canada and in export markets. It is expected to support market access and further build on Canada’s reputation of providing high-quality food that is environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.

WHO IS IT FOR?

Responsible Grain is for all Canadian grain farmers, no matter where they farm. It covers all grain crops (cereals, oilseeds and special crops), but there may be some crop-specific required or recommended practices within the voluntary Code. The standards also consider regional differences; in soils, in climate and in crops grown.

WILL FOLLOWING RESPONSIBLE GRAIN MEAN THAT I HAVE TO CHANGE THE WAY THAT I DO THINGS ON MY FARM?

Responsible Grain will be a voluntary Code of Practice. Adopting Responsible Grain practices may not mean a lot of change for some farmers since many of the practices in the Code are regulations that farmers already follow. For farmers choosing to take part in this initiative, it will really depend on their specific situation. The level of change needed to meet the requirements in Responsible Grain is part of what farmers are being asked during the consultation process that is open for comments from November 2020 until February 2021.

WHO IS DEVELOPING IT?

The Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Crops (CRSC) is leading the development of Responsible Grain.

The Code Development Committee, Scientific Advisory Committee and Communication and Engagement Committee, with representation from farmers across the country and from various commodity groups and industry organizations, are supporting its development. It is being developed using a transparent, consensus-based approach and the best available science.

HOW CAN I HAVE INPUT?

Stakeholder input is very important to us. Now that the Code of Practice has been developed in draft form, a formal consultation is taking place from November 2020 – February 2021. Farmers and other stakeholders are being asked to review the Code and provide comments. The input will be used to review the Code to ensure it is practical and widely adoptable by farmers.

We will be holding virtual meetings with commodity organizations to review the Responsible Grain Code of Practice in detail. Alternatively, individuals will be able to review the Code and submit their feedback through an on-line platform.

A summary of the feedback or debrief will be made available to organizations and their members.

To receive your invitation to participate in the consultations, please click Register Now and complete the form. You will receive a personal email invitation to an online platform where you can review the draft Requirements and Recommended Practices at your convenience.

WHEN WILL IT LAUNCH?

After the consultation and review processes are complete, it is expected that the final version will be ready by the spring of 2021. More information on how to access the Code will be widely distributed to commodity organizations and stakeholder groups.

HOW DOES IT WORK WITH OTHER SUSTAINABILITY STANDARDS/PROGRAMS?

Responsible Grain refers to and builds upon existing stewardship programs. Programs like the Environmental Farm Plan and 4R Nutrient Stewardship program were utilized during the development process. It does not replace or duplicate existing programs, but may help to consolidate multiple sustainability programs in the future.

Adopting Responsible Grain practices may not mean a lot of change for some farm operations. Several requirements are regulations or best practices that many Canadian farmers already follow.

The standards in Responsible Grain will be kept current and will be reviewed and updated on a regular basis, giving farmers the most current science-based information to optimize stewardship practices.

HOW WILL PROGRESS OR COMPLIANCE WITH RESPONSIBLE GRAIN BE TRACKED?

Responsible Grain will not be tracked at the farm level. Combined data will be gathered and analyzed to measure adoption of the practices at the national, provincial or regional level. Over time, this aggregate information will show trends on how well the practices are being used by farmers. The progress and trends will be shared in an annual report by the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Crops as part of its Metrics Platform.

HOW WILL GRAIN BUYERS OR FOOD COMPANIES USE THE CODE OF PRACTICE?

Customers who purchase Canadian grain, such as food companies or grain exporters, can refer to Responsible Grain whenever they want to share information about how Canadian crops are grown. Responsible Grain pulls together a wide range of practices into a cohesive message for customers and consumers to help build public trust and to support market access. The progress farmers are making will be shared in an annual report by the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Crops as part of its Metrics Platform.