Farmers should be in a revenue neutral position when it comes to fuel taxes.
Ottawa—The federal government needs to acknowledge farmers have worked hard to control their greenhouse gas emissions and forcing them to pay the carbon tax on some food-producing activities can reduce their international competitiveness, says the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA).
As well, the government should ensure that its climate policies do not harm food security and realize that “farmers have kept their emissions steady for 20 years while almost doubling production, resulting in a decrease of GHG emission intensity by half,” the CFA said in a statement.
“Canadian producers are concerned about maintaining competitiveness as they face the prospect of higher costs for inputs due to carbon pricing. Machinery used for grain drying, livestock heating and cooling and irrigation are critical for mitigating the increasing on-farm impacts of climate change, including summer droughts and heat waves, and a shift towards rainfall during the autumn harvest months.”
Farmers need grain dryers and other equipment because of the changing climate and the carbon tax on them drives up their fuel bills when it should be revenue neutral for producers, CFA said. “With limited alternatives available, farmers are instead left to eat the cost of producing food for an increasing population in the face of economic and environmental uncertainty.”
Penalizing farmers for responding to environmental conditions that are out of their control leaves little money left over to invest in new technologies that could reduce their overall emissions. Fuel efficiencies should be done through incentives like the carbon offset protocols and support for clean technology, research and innovation, climate change adaptation and mitigation, resilience building measures and compensation for higher inputs costs.
Farmers need are incentives, adoption of clean technology and management improvements to reduce emissions, “which should be considered on an intensity basis to reflect food security needs and the vast differences in efficiencies that exist,” CFA said. “Governments must strive to achieve greater consistency in climate change policies in order to reduce impacts on agricultural producers.”
CFA is backing Ontario Conservative MP Ben Lobb’s bill to exempt farm use of natural gas and propane from the carbon tax and has joined the Agriculture Carbon Alliance to help provide a unified voice on these issues.
The federal government must recognize the value of other ecological goods and services agriculture provides including wetlands stewardship, enhancing riparian areas and hillsides and conservation of ponds and lakes to provide recreational activities. “Market mechanisms must be developed to value these services at the national level in order to help maintain these public benefits on private land.”
With the proper support and investment, Canadian agriculture can become a carbon sink through new technologies and techniques. Farmland needs to be preserved to feed Canadians and people in many other countries. Any direct and indirect fuel price resulting from the Clean Fuel Standards should not have a disproportionate impact on rural Canadians, who should also have access to low carbon intensity fuels.
The government should ensure that the upcoming Canada Water Agency has a designated agriculture unit to coordinate with the necessary departments and agencies on matters of runoff prevention and gathering water data for pest control product decisions.