Farmers in eastern Canada paid millions of dollars more for fertilizer beginning in early 2022 as a result of the federal tariff levied against fertilizer from Russia and Belarus, and now farmers want that money back.
Finance Canada says the federal government collected approximately $34.1 million in tariff income on fertilizer imported into Canada from when the 35 per cent tariff took effect in early March until June 30, 2022.
In response to an inquiry from the federal Conservatives, the finance department says the duties were collected on fertilizer imports worth $97.5 million, while $75.5 million in fertilizer imports did not have customs duties applied as these shipments were deemed to be in-transit when the tariff took effect.
While the United Nations and other global organizations have urged countries to not restrict fertilizer trade, Canada is the only G7 country that has maintained a tariff on Russian-sourced fertilizer after the country invaded Ukraine. Farm groups say the 35 per cent tariff was even levied against some cargo that had been loaded or was in transit prior to the sanction being announced. Some shipments were also bought and paid for prior to Russia’s invasion in early 2022.
Representatives from the Atlantic Grains Council, Québec Grain Farmers, Grain Farmers of Ontario, the Ontario Bean Growers Association, Ontario Canola Growers, and the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario have now come together to ask the government to ensure the refund of tariff fees goes directly to farmers.
“We need the government to return the money collected directly back to farmers who paid the tariffs on fertilizer,” says Brendan Byrne, chair of the Grain Farmers of Ontario. “Over the past two months, we have met with over a dozen Members of Parliament who have been very supportive of finding a resolution to this matter. We want to ensure decision-makers follow through to see this money is returned to farmers.”
The producer groups represent over 50,000 farmers from Ontario to the east coast.
“Forcing farmers to pay a tariff on a global product such as fertilizer just penalizes the farmer and adds additional costs at a time when input costs are already at an all-time high,” said Ryan Koeslag of the Ontario Bean Growers Association. “We look forward to seeing a speedy resolution from government.”
The $34 million figure from Statistics Canada does not account for tariffs on fertilizer purchases after July 1, as the fertilizer reporting year runs from July 1 to June 30.
The federal government, meanwhile, issued an updated order maintaining the tariffs on imports from Russia and Belarus in early October.