Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau says her government’s proposed Clean Fuel Standard will be “a great opportunity” for farmers, but she acknowledges the policy needs further consultation.
The government is planning to introduce regulations to support the policy, which is designed to incentivize the use of lower carbon fuels such as ethanol or biodiesel, this fall.
“First, you know how committed we are towards having a greener economy and reducing our gas emissions, and farmers are definitely a major participant to this moving forward,” says Minister for Agriculture and Agri-food Bibeau. “This Clean Fuel Standard, I’ve been hearing so much about it, particularly from canola farmers, we’ve been consulting for years on that, and moving to the next step with more formal consultation now, is really promising for the sector.”
Some farmers are skeptical about the policy and its potential impact, especially regarding the land use requirements listed in an initial draft that would make feedstocks grown on farmland that’s been converted from wetland, grassland, or forest since a certain date ineligible and require riparian areas along water ways. But if Canadian crops can be positioned as sustainable under the new policy, biofuel makers have indicated their demand for feedstocks will rise significantly with a large increase in blend rates of biodiesel and ethanol.
That being said, more consultation is necessary, says Bibeau, to ensure that everyone involved — both the agriculture and environment departments — understand each other’s views.
“We want it to benefit our agricultural sector as much as possible, while reaching our environmental targets. I think it’s going to be a win-win policy,” she says.
As with any new regulation, the policy has to go through the Canada Gazette process, which will include formal consultations.
Sources have said the environment and climate change department has been the main driver of the land use and biodiversity requirements, but Bibeau says the agriculture and environment departments worked closely together to consider any impact felt by the agriculture sector.
“We’ve talked about it on a regular basis,” says the minister. “It’s still at the consultation level. There’s still more work to be done, so I think nobody should get anxious about that yet. We will have the time to find common ground for the best of our sector.”
Hear the full conversation between RealAg Radio host Shaun Haney and Minister Bibeau below:
Stay tuned to RealAg for more coverage of the government’s fuel policy. We’ve previously covered the biofuel industry’s optimism, the canola perspective, and the sustainability requirement aspects of the issue.