Farmers say 'government-made food crisis' will worsen due to carbon tax, fertilizer limits

Through 2030, farmers would save almost $978 million if Bill C-234, An Act to amend the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, became law and exempted various fuels from the carbon tax.

Farmers say 'government-made food crisis' will worsen due to carbon tax, fertilizer limits
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Wheat farmers are sounding the alarm on Canada's "food crisis" that they blame the federal government for causing.

Gunter Jochum, president of the Wheat Growers Association (WGA), warned Canadians that "bread, pasta, cereals and even the occasional beer" could become an "unattainable" expense if the government mandates a 30% reduction in emissions from nitrogen-based fertilizers, reported The Western Standard.

While a reduction of up to 15% is possible using existing efficiency methods, the remaining cut would have to come from reduced fertilizer use.

"Such a drastic reduction would be disastrous for Canadians and could lead to food shortages worldwide," said Jochum.

He said Canada's largest crop, wheat, is a staple food for 35% of the world's population, with the country harvesting seven times more than residents consume annually. 

"We export to 70 countries and produce 12% of the world's wheat."

In February, Jochum accused the feds of basing their emissions target on ideology, not science. 

"If Canada produces less, less efficient countries will produce more. So, global fertilizer use will increase, not decrease," he said, citing rampant deforestation in the Amazon rainforest for grain farming.

While Ottawa champions emissions reductions to meet climate targets, Canada must also produce significantly more food for a growing world population.

"On top of all this, the federal government has set a target to increase Canadian agricultural exports by 55% by 2025! Talk about having your cake and eating it too!" he said. 

The 2030 target will reduce global emissions by 0.0028%, said Jochum. "Is this even worth it?" 

Stuart Smyth, an agricultural and resource economics associate professor, concurred that Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) did not use factual information when setting the 30% target.

He claimed they "did not have the agriculture industry's best interests at hand." 

In March, the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS) blamed the federal carbon tax regime for disproportionately harming the agriculture sector.

On April 1, the federal carbon tax increased to $65 per tonne and will continue to rise until it reaches $170 by 2030.

"We see these costs in our monthly bills and feel them trickle down to us through higher input costs and reduced commodity prices throughout the supply chain. Farmers will pay more in barn heating or grain drying each month than they will ever see in rebates," said APAS president Ian Boxall. 

To transport Saskatchewan agricultural goods to tidewater, specifically, trucks typically travel 1,150 miles to port. The carbon tax costs $0.1129 per railcar mile this year, or over $36 million on 26 million tonnes of grain.

By 2030, using natural gas will cost Saskatcehwan farmers $28 million annually in carbon taxes, according to a Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) analysis published on September 15.

Through 2030, farmers would save almost $978 million if Bill C-234, An Act to amend the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, became law and exempted various fuels from the progressive tax.

"These additional costs come off our bottom line because we're price takers who sell into international markets," added Boxall.

The federal government provided an agriculture exemption for carbon taxes on diesel and gasoline that the Opposition amended to include natural gas and propane.

It passed the Commons on March 29 and remains in the Senate for deliberation after passing its second reading last June 21.

To counter rampant food inflation, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) is demanding immediate passage of Bill C-234 to expand agricultural carbon tax exemptions.

"Making it more affordable for farmers to produce food will make it more affordable for families to buy food," said Franco Terrazzano, CTF Federal Director. 

"The House of Common passed legislation to expand the carbon tax exemption for farmers. MPs have passed that legislation twice," he said, with Bill C-206 dying in the Senate.

Experts have also sounded the alarm on a pending wave of retirements as baby boomers exit the workforce at a critical juncture for Canada's agricultural sector.

According to the Royal Bank of Canada, Canada must replace 24,000 farmers and greenhouse operators over the next decade. 

By 2033, more than 40% of farmers will retire, leaving Canada with a shortage residents can only fill partially. 

A recent report by the bank contends that 30,000 immigrants need to assume farming and greenhouse operations or establish their own by 2033 to fill that void.

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