National Newswatch

Grain Growers of Canada says most crucial step is grain dryer fuel tax exemption.


Ottawa—An insurance program for grain exporters sounds good but is no substitute for exempting farmers from the carbon tax on grain dryer fuels, says Jeff Nielsen, Chairman of the Grain Growers of Canada.

Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announced the Canada Grains Council will receive more than $430,000 to develop a pilot insurance product for grain exporters and $789,558 to develop a Code of Practice for farm production of Canadian grains.

Nielsen welcomed that announcement and another by Bibeau of an Efficient Grain Dryer Program for Alberta farmers who are seeking financial assistance with the cost of new grain drying equipment.

What’s really needed is a full exemption for fuel used on Canadian farms from the carbon tax, he said. The minister’s two announcements “have not changed the fact that farmers across the country are still facing an additional cost burden after the Harvest from Hell at a time when they can afford it least.

“These costs are adding up and Canada’s grain farmers cannot continue to pay the price for inaction. A complete exemption for all fuels used on the farm is what we need to avoid these crises in the future and provide farmers with the resources to continue doing what we do best.”

Governments need to create “a legislative and regulatory environment that reflects contributions that Canadian farmers have and continue to make towards the climate solution–while ensuring a sustainable future for this important industry,” Nielsen said.

The export insurance is intended to address the risks farmers face of having their shipments rejected at the border of the importing country. Bibeau said the aim is “to ensure that grain farmers are protected against the unpredictability of the international market and the risks of regulatory trade barriers, particularly around the input residues on seeds.”

The Code of Practice for Canadian grain production will help farmers adopt practices that are “sustainable, for both market and public trust purposes,” she said. It will cover fertilizer management, pesticide use, soil management, farm workers and protection of wildlife habitat, as well as food safety and work safety. “The code will confirm the confidence shared by consumers around the world that Canadian grains are made to the highest standards of quality.”

Grains Council President Tyler Bjornson said, “Despite Canada’s solid reputation worldwide as a high quality and trustworthy provider of grain and oilseed products, we cannot take this for granted. Exploring new ways to help producers and industry address market access risks, as well as maintain consumer confidence that we are doing the right things to produce sustainable and safe food are an essentially part of our long-term strategy as a sector.”

Alex Binkley is a freelance journalist and writes for domestic and international publications about agriculture, food and transportation issues. He’s also the author of two science fiction novels with more in the works.
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