National Newswatch

GFO wants assurances on fertilizer supply.


Ottawa—The Western Wheat Growers Association (WCWGA) is ramping up its campaign against federal fertilizer emission reduction plans because they will kneecap farmers financially and compound global food shortages.

The government has called for a 30 per cent reduction in fertilizer emissions while saying it is committed to increase agricultural exports by 55 per cent by 2025, WCWGA said.

“The target of an absolute reduction in nutrients used to produce our food was done without consultation with the fertilizer industry or Canadian grain and oilseed farmers.”

Responding to the WCWGA statement, Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said, “Agricultural producers are the first to be affected by climate change and are strongly committed to becoming more resilient and reducing their environmental impact.”

The fertilizer goal is a voluntary target of a 30 per cent reduction in GHG emissions arising from nitrogen fertilizer application by 2030.

She noted that a Fertilizer Canada report says “nearly half of this target can be achieved without reducing yields with greater adoption of the 4R Nutrient Stewardship program.”

Its approach “saves money, produces more and reduces emissions all at the same time,” she said. The report focuses on a nutrient management initiative, and there are several other ways to achieve the emission target.

During the last 18 months, the government has committed $1.5 billion to support research and innovation in addition to helping farmers adopt more sustainable practices, such as 4R, and acquire clean technologies. “We will continue to work with the agriculture sector and other partners to find ways to optimize nutrient management on the farm and establish a path forward to meeting this target.”

Meanwhile Grain Farmers of Ontario wants the government to step up for grain farmers after a few years of economic uncertainty, volatile markets and unexpected cost increases. “Now more than ever we need certainty and stability, but now we are facing a global fertilizer shortage and unanswered questions around price and supply.”

GFO wants farmers to support its message that the government should work on ensuring “an affordable, dependable supply of fertilizer so we can continue to grow the grains that keep healthy, nutritious food on Canadian tables and do our part to feed the world.”

The WCWGA said it is still waiting for the government to show what benefits will come from reducing fertilizer emissions by 30 per cent including a cost benefit analysis of the action.

It said the 30 per cent fertilizer emissions reduction would reduce canola revenues by up to $441 million while wheat revenue could experience a reduction of up to $400 million.

“Such drastic cuts will undoubtedly put many farmers out of business, lead to less food produced, drive up the prices of food and generally make people’s lives harder and more expensive.

“Agriculture is the cornerstone of food security in Canada. And arbitrary reductions in emissions will come at the cost of reduced output of food and higher prices, WCWGA said.

“The federal government needs to work with Canada’s farmers and the agricultural community and not issue diktats on high that could lead to extreme unintended consequences.”

Farm groups have proposed emissions intensity reductions to lower emissions without lowering food production or destroying profitability.

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