KAP Explains Its Carbon Tax Position

With federal and provincial governments rolling out carbon taxes or cap and trade programs, organizations representing farmers have been forced to choose a strategy they believe will result in the best outcome for their members.

Some, such as the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association, are digging in their heels and fighting any carbon tax head-on, similar to the approach being taken by Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall.

Some have chosen a more cooperative approach, hoping to influence the policy to benefit farmers, at the risk of appearing friendly to the government’s idea of a carbon tax.

Keystone Agricultural Producers — Manitoba’s main general farm group — is among the latter, and KAP has faced some strong criticism from farmers who say the group is not representing their interests.

Speaking with us at Ag Days in Brandon, Sean Goertzen, KAP’s climate initiative coordinator, explains why they chose their approach in the interview below.

“The federal government and Manitoba government have already promised to bring in carbon pricing,” he says. “What can we actually convince the province and the feds to do? What can we propose to them that they will actually respond to? There are a lot of ideas out there that may sound good on the surface, but we know from talking with them, they will just not be accepted.”

“If we’re dragged into this kicking and screaming, I think we’re going to see a worse outcome for farmers than if we’re proactive and at the table helping to influence the design so that it works better for farmers,” — KAP’s Sean Goertzen

KAP is lobbying the province to exempt farms from the direct costs of a carbon tax — mainly gasoline, diesel, propane and heating fuel. Where the carbon tax indirectly raises farm costs, such as in fertilizer manufacturing and transportation, KAP wants to see the proceeds used to compensate producers for projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The revenue could go toward funding an ALUS (Alternative Land Use Services) ecological goods and services program, helping increase fertilizer efficiency (4R practices), or grants for installing energy efficient lighting, or geothermal/solar energy sources — some of the examples Goertzen refers to.

“I think if carbon pricing is designed well, in a way where they’ve listened to farmers, I think it could work well for farmers,” he says.

Manitoba farmers will have the opportunity to voice their opinions on KAP’s approach at the group’s annual general meeting, taking place in Winnipeg on Wednesday and Thursday.

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