National Newswatch

Other groups also complain farmers can’t afford its rising cost.


Ottawa—Grain Farmers of Ontario says the facts don’t support an Agriculture Canada study that says the carbon tax on propane and natural gas used in farm grain drying operations is an insignificant expense.

GFO President Markus Hearle said a statement that at an average cost of $5.50 per acre of corn for drying and $14 when the tax on other pieces of the grain production chain are added, the carbon tax is a significant amount. “Farmers cannot continue to bear extra costs and added risk to produce food for Canadians.”

“The numbers are indisputable,” he said. “It is simple math. We have run

the numbers and the cost averaged to $5.50 per acre on corn, which means that on a 1,000 acre farm the carbon tax bill would be more than $5,000.

“That is really just the tip of the iceberg. We estimate that the cost of the carbon tax is $14 per acre if you take into account transportation, inputs, and more.”

Grain farmers need to dry grains to make them viable, especially if the province has another wet season, he said. “We dry grains to avoid spoiling food. You can’t make bread from spoiled grain. In Ontario grain drying is often a necessary part of producing high quality, healthy, viable grains,” he said.

“Every farmer is unique, every farmer has a different rotation of crops on varying numbers of acres, but no farmer can afford an increasing tax on producing food.” Burdening grain farms with this tax means that farmers cannot invest in technologies that can combat climate change.

The increase in the carbon tax is one more thing that grain farmers cannot afford as they face competition from the U.S. farmer who has received support.

GFO spent the last year calculating the costs and sharing that data with the government. “We think there was a disconnect in how they are being shared.”

Provincial farm groups across the country as well as the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and Grain Growers of Canada have been trying since the tax was introduced to make the government understand its actual impact on farmers. Last fall’s weather-whacked harvest highlighted the financial burden it causes.

Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau has repeatedly said the government didn’t exempt propane and natural gas used in grain dryers and other farm functions because the cost to an individual farm was less than $1,000 a year. That is far below what farm groups have found from their members who actually pay the bills.

Gunter Jochum, President of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association, says farmers should be outraged by the assertion the amount of carbon tax paid for grain drying during last fall’s harvest wasn’t significant enough to change the tax.

“It is shocking Minister Bibeau and her Department have arrived at this decision. As the tax comes directly out of our bottom line, grain farmers cannot pass the carbon tax imposed on them on to the end user. The Minister doesn’t understand that we compete with farmers globally who don’t have a carbon tax.

“Canadian grain growers are net-zero carbon emitters. We shouldn’t be punished with a carbon tax but instead be acknowledged for our positive contributions towards climate change and the environment,” he said.

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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