The federal agriculture minister says the prime minister’s announcement of a national carbon pricing framework this week shouldn’t come as a surprise to the farm community.
Lawrence MacAulay also says it will be up to the provinces to decide how agriculture fits into their carbon policies.
Ottawa will require provinces implement a minimum price on carbon of $10 per tonne in 2018, rising to $50 per tonne in 2022, as announced by Justin Trudeau in the House of Commons on Monday. Each province would retain control of how the revenues are used, and have until 2018 to implement their own policy. (Several provinces, including BC, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec, have already implemented or announced carbon pricing systems.)
Farmers and farm groups are concerned a carbon tax will increase costs for fuel, fertilizer and other production inputs, making Canadian exports less competitive internationally. They also want to see exemptions or compensation recognizing the offsetting carbon sequestration that happens on farms, but MacAulay indicated that will be up to the provinces.
“The money that’s collected is for provinces to use as they see fit. It could be to reduce taxes, it could be in innovation, it could be to help farmers make sure the product they produce is less expensive,” he said on Friday, following a trade mission to Mexico. “It’s all done in the name of creating a clean economy and that’s what we will continue to do.”
“I would expect the farmers will be discussing this issue with their provincial ministers,” the minister continued.
At a minimum, provincial carbon pricing policy should apply to “substantially the same sources as (in) British Columbia,” said MacAulay, noting BC producers have an exemption from the carbon tax on fuel.
Although the words ‘carbon’ or ‘carbon pricing’ don’t appear in the text, he said the “Calgary Statement” issued by federal, provincial and territorial agriculture ministers following their annual meeting in Calgary in July “indicated the provinces wish to be involved in this.”
“We canvassed that this was going to be done. We want to make sure we have a cleaner and more innovative economy with reduced emissions, and that’s what will take place across the country,” noted MacAulay.