Exemptions, ethanol, food security, and farm labour: Rood's top questions for the ag minister

It won’t be long before the Government of Canada returns to the house, even if it is virtually. The holiday season is behind us and it’s time to get moving on important policy files that took a brief pause over the break.

Up first for Conservative agriculture critic Lianne Rood is working on the carbon tax file, where her party is pushing the Liberal government to allow for exemptions of the tax on fuel used for drying grain, be it propane or natural gas. So far, the request has not been well-received by federal ag minister Marie-Claude Bibeau, who called the tax paid on fuel for grain drying “insignificant” on average.

Also on the list of Rood’s priorities is the Clean Fuel Standard, and ensuring that Canadian farmers will be the ones to benefit from a potential increase in canola or  grain demand for fuel, instead of out-of-country, subsidized (so, lower cost) suppliers.

In a marked departure from many ag policy groups in 2020, Rood’s party is more focused on food security — and what she calls “reasonable” rules and restrictions regarding COVID-19 quarantines for farm labourers — than they are on immediate changes to existing business risk management (BRM) programs.

The next suite of BRM programming is set for 2023, and the ag committee have put recommendations forward for that next round. It’s not that BRM is unimportant, she says, it’s that her party is more focused on looking for immediate solutions for those facing hardship because of COVID-19 and less red tape and taxes that are making Canadian farmers less competitive.

Listen on for the full discussion between Lianne Rood and Shaun Haney:

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