Farmers will continue to pay carbon tax on grain drying and barn heating
By Diego Flammini
Canadian farmers are angry with political tactics used to stall a piece of legislation that would provide them with relief from the carbon tax.
Bill C-234 remains in the Senate after Sen. Bernadette Clement moved to adjourn debate on the bill last week in the middle of the bill’s third reading.
Twenty-nine senators supported the adjournment while 24 voted against it and 37 didn’t vote. And the Senate doesn’t sit again until Nov. 21.
Therefore, farmers will continue to pay the carbon tax on grain drying and building heating and cooling.
“It really feels like they don’t care about Canadian farmers,” Daryl Fransoo, a Saskatchewan farmer and chair of the Wheat Growers Association, told Farms.com. “When some senators use these childish procedural methods to stall this bill, it really feels like a slap in the face.”
The cost of the carbon tax on Canadian farmers is well documented.
A 30-acre greenhouse pepper operation, for example, pays about $150,000 in carbon taxes per year.
A Manitoba pork producer said the carbon tax costs him about $80,000 per year.
And an Alberta poultry producer told Senator David Wells, who sponsored Bill C-234 in the Senate, that once the carbon tax hits $170 per tonne, he’ll be spending about $500,000 per year on carbon taxes.
The potential savings for producers have also been calculated.
A report from the Parliamentary Budget Officer estimates eliminating the carbon tax will save farmers close to $1 billion by 2030.
Continuing to have to pay the carbon tax has multiple effects on farms and consumers, Fransoo said.
“In northern Saskatchewan, we have a short growing season and have to often have to dry our crop,” he said. “We use propane which is taxed even higher than natural gas. This all trickles down to the grocery store and that’s why consumers are seeing the prices they do. On top of that, every dollar of carbon tax farmers pay is money we can’t invest into the newest and best technology.”
That’s an additional part of the frustration.
Farmers are expected to be good stewards of the land and produce food more sustainably but are being punished for using the only available tools.
“There is no viable alternative to fossil fuels right now,” he said. “So, to be taxed for doing the best job I can already is kind of foolish. I hope consumers understand that farmers are already doing our best, and we adopt the newest technology when it makes environmental and financial sense.”
The Conservatives are using Bill C-234’s stalled status to reach Canadians.
On Nov. 13, Pierre Poilievre announced he would be launching a campaign about the issue, and encouraged Canadians to call their Liberal MPs to pressure the prime minister and senators to pass the bill to support farmers and consumers.
Making farmers pay the carbon tax “forces more of our food production to be outsourced to foreign countries,” he said. “Trudeau’s carbon tax applied to the (carbon dioxide) that a tomato farm in my riding has to release into its greenhouse even though that CO2 doesn’t even go into the atmosphere it goes into the plant life, making Mexican tomatoes more affordable in my community than local tomatoes.”
Taxing farmers and food when millions of Canadians are using food banks every month is unacceptable, Poilievre added.
One MPs voice has been missing from Bill C-234 conversations, Fransoo said.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAualy, a former dairy farmer, voted against the bill during its third reading in the House of Commons in March prior to his reappointment as ag minister.
This is an opportunity for him to show he supports farmers, Fransoo said.
“We went from an ag minister who was thought of as more of an activist (Marie-Claude Bibeau) to a minister who is a farmer and would understand our concerns,” Fransoo said. “We know ministers don’t really involve themselves in Senate decisions, but it would be nice for him to speak up and show he has our backs."
Poilievre starts to talk about Bill C-234 around 3:40 of the video.