Ontario MP leading another attempt at removing carbon tax from grain drying and barn heating

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Editor’s note: this article has been updated following the introduction of Lobb’s Bill C-234 in the House of Commons on February 7, confirming the details outlined in the earlier version.

A Conservative MP from southern Ontario is making another attempt at removing the federal carbon tax from fuels used for drying grain and heating barns, as well as other specific farming activities.

Ben Lobb, MP for Huron-Bruce, tabled Bill C-234 “An Act to amend the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act in the House of Commons on February 7.

The private member’s bill aims to exempt propane and natural gas used for grain drying, heating and cooling livestock barns and greenhouses, as well as irrigation and steam flaking — a process used in making animal feed — from the federal carbon tax, which applies to farms in the provinces of Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta.

Marked fuels such as “purple” gasoline and diesel are already exempt from the federal carbon pricing system.

“Many farmers in Huron-Bruce and across Canada grow crops that must be dried in a grain dryer. Many raise livestock that must be kept warm through our country’s harsh winters,” said Lobb in a statement following the introduction of his private member’s bill. “These activities are crucial to farmers’ ability to keep food on Canadians’ tables. They should not have to pay a carbon tax.”

An earlier private member’s bill from Ontario MP Philip Lawrence would have also exempted fuels used for grain drying, barn heating, and irrigation, but it came up short in crossing the legislative finish line before last fall’s election was called. Bill C-206 was approved by the House of Commons in June 2021, but was not cleared by the Senate for Royal Assent prior to Parliament being dissolved for the October 2021 election.

MPs from the Conservative, New Democrat, Bloc, and Green parties, as well as one Liberal MP, supported Lawrence’s Bill C-206 last year, a possible indication that Lobb’s bill could also be approved by the House of Commons.

Last month the Parliamentary Budget Officer issued a report that said Bill C-206 would reduce carbon taxes paid by farmers by over $1.1 billion over the next decade.

In the meantime, the federal government has shared some details on its plan to rebate carbon taxes to farmers in the provinces where the federal carbon pricing “backstop” is in place. According to the federal fiscal update in December, there will be a refundable tax credit rate of $1.47 for every $1,000 in eligible farm expenses occurred in 2021, with the tax credit rate rising to $1.73 in 2022.

In addition to Lobb’s proposal, another private member’s bill that is slated to be tabled this week could be relevant for farmers. BC Liberal MP Wilson Miao is expected to introduce “An Act to amend the Copyright Act (diagnosis, maintenance and repair),” aimed at addressing issues around the right-to-repair.

More to come.

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