Federal government fires up $50 million program for lower emission grain dryers


The federal government has released more information regarding the $50 million that was earmarked in the federal budget to help farmers switch to more energy efficient grain dryers.

Speaking from a farm near Saint-Pie de Bagot, Québec on Friday, Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said the application process for the grain dryer portion of the $166 million Agricultural Clean Technology Program will begin later this month.

To be considered for funding, any new dryer or retrofit projects will have to have a total cost of at least $50 thousand. The federal government says it will cover up to 50 per cent of the cost for projects with for-profit recipients, such as farms, and up to 75 per cent for not-for-profit recipients, including co-ops.

“At the end of the day, the most important criteria is ‘will it make a difference in reducing emissions?’ This is what we are aiming for. There are different ways to reduce emissions, and this is what we are looking at,” said Bibeau.

While the minister refrained from giving specific examples of types of dryers or equipment that could qualify, an official from her office says the selection process will be based on the projected reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of each proposal. Eligible projects could range from retrofitting components of an old propane dryer — similar to what was covered in Alberta’s Efficient Grain Dryer Program last year — to installation of new biomass-based grain dryers, such as the system made by Triple Green Products in Morris, Manitoba, as long as program administrators agree the changes will result in reduced emissions.

“We want to spend this money as efficiently as possible. Are we going to get the best bang for the buck? This is the whole idea behind it, to make sure our investment will have a real impact on reducing emissions,” said Bibeau.

The $50 million for grain dryer upgrades will be distributed over five years, with an annual budget allocation to the program. In addition to considering the emissions reduction per dollar spent, the government says geographic distribution will also be taken into account in the funding process.

Bibeau also provided more details on a new $10 million initiative under the same “Adoption Stream” of the Agricultural Clean Technology Program to help with “powering farms with clean energy and moving off diesel.” Precision agriculture technology and bio-based systems, such as anaerobic digesters, could potentially qualify for this funding, according to AAFC.

The third component of Bibeau’s announcement on Friday involved new information about a Research and Innovation Stream, which will provide up to $2 million for projects involving “agricultural clean technologies” still in the research, development, demonstration, or commercialization stages. This funding will extend over seven years, into 2028.

The government has planned a two-step process for applying for these funding streams. Starting later this month, applicants can submit a Project Summary Form which will be used to screen potential projects. Proposals that meet the program’s priorities and criteria will then be eligible to submit a full project application.

Meanwhile, Bibeau said she continues to work with Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson on their commitment to rebate $100 million in carbon tax levies on natural gas and propane used for grain drying, but she would not say when details will be announced publicly.

“We are looking at different ways of providing a rebate to farmers, and we will announce it as soon as we have come with what we think is the best way to give it back to farmers,” she said.

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