Farm groups blast $170-per-tonne carbon tax plan


Several farm industry groups are voicing their displeasure of the government’s announcement last week to ramp up the carbon tax over the next 10 years.

The Grain Farmers of Ontario say they are “infuriated” by the plan and call it a “continued campaign to tax food production for Canadians.”

Previously, the federal government had denied it would push the carbon tax higher than $50/tonne of carbon.

The latest climate action plan, “A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy,” from Environment and Climate Change Canada, comes on the heels of a report from the Parliamentary Budget Officer that the government stands to collect about $60 million in carbon tax per year on propane and natural gas used to dry grain by 2022.

“It is simply not acceptable to burden farmers with these increased costs. Grain farmers in Ontario need to dry grain to make it viable for use and consumption. The fuel needed to dry it is subject to carbon tax. We absolutely need this exempted,” says Markus Haerle, chair of Grain Farmers of Ontario. “Farmers cannot just simply raise the price of our grain to help cover these increased costs. We do not set those prices. It’s incredibly frustrating to see this shortsightedness continue.”

The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association says it will continue to evaluate the potential ramifications of the Canadian government’s announcement. “We do know our industry has one of the best track records when it comes to GHG emissions where the beef industry accounts for only 2.4 per cent of Canada’s total GHG emissions,” says Larry Thomas, environment manager at CCA.

Canadian beef producers safeguard over 44 million acres of grasslands which store 1.5 billion tonnes of carbon and sequester the equivalent of 3.6 million cars worth of additional carbon emissions per year. The Canadian beef industry has set the ambitious goal of sequestering an additional 3.4 million tonnes of carbon every year and reduce primary production GHG emission intensity by 33 per cent by 2030,” he says, via email.

The Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association (WCWGA) have also voiced their concerns and say they are “shocked” the federal government is rolling out this carbon tax during the middle of a pandemic.

“The federal government has put a carbon tax on everything that is shipped to our farms, but those costs cannot be passed on to the end consumer. We sell our grain at world commodity prices, regardless of our input costs,” says Gunter Jochum, president of WCWGA.

WCGWA also point to the carbon tax on grain drying fuel as a significant cost to farmers, even though Agriculture and Agri-Food minister Marie-Claude Bibeau has previously called the cost too small, as an average per cent of expenses, to qualify for an exemption. The producer groups says that, for 2019, the carbon tax cost was as high as 40 per cent of the total bill.

“The federal government wants to fight climate change, but refuses to acknowledge that grain farmers are actually net-zero emitters. Actually, grain farming is a carbon sink. Grain farmers have been using sustainable farming technology for decades, yet have been given no recognition for our carbon sequestering. This tax increase will only hurt farmers’ income and raise the price of groceries for all Canadians,” says Stephen Vandervalk, Alberta vice president with the WCWGA.


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