Proposed fertilizer emission reduction targets would devastate farmers, one group said
By Diego Flammini
The Canadian ag sector is concerned about how proposed fertilizer emission reduction targets would affect the ag sector.
The Canola Council of Canada and Western Canadian Wheat Growers are among those worried with recent findings that the industry could lose almost $50 billion by 2023 and 2030 if the federal government moves forward with its planned fertilizer reduction targets.
The data comes from a report Fertilizer Canada commissioned Meyers Norris Penny (MNP) to complete.
The Canadian government wants to reduce fertilizer emissions by 30 per cent from the 2020 levels by 2030.
MNP studied the European model, a 20 per cent reduction by 2030. The study also factored in Canadian corn, spring wheat and canola data.
From a canola perspective, MNP’s report concluded canola farmers could experience increased differences between actual and potential yields of 67.9 bushels per acre per year.
These findings signal any measures to address climate change must be done without putting industries at risk, said Jim Everson, president of the Canola Council of Canada.
“It’s a real reality check that in addressing climate change, we get the details right,” he told Farms.com. “We have to be sure while pursuing emissions goals while making sure we can still feed the world.”
The report also suggested “that by 2030 most Canadian exports of canola will not exist.”
Canada exported $11.9 billion of canola products around the world in 2020 and the country accounts for 65 per cent of world canola trade.
How Canadian farmers grow crops at home affects them on internationally, Everson said.
“We export about 90 per cent of what we grow,” he said. “We need to do what we can to make sure we’re still able to do that. We have to balance the objective of hitting (emissions targets) with maintaining agriculture’s economic output.”
From a spring wheat perspective, Fertilizer Canada’s MNP also showed gaps between actual yields and potential yields.
That number stands at 36.1 bushels per acre per year by 2030.
Farmers already have individualized teams they consult on best management practices.
The government should be supporting farmers, not making it harder for them to produce food, said Gunter Jochum, president of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers.
“This analysis shows the proposed Canadian changes have the possibility of devastating our agriculture value chain. Farmers don’t need the government to tell them how to properly use fertilizer,” he said in a Sept. 27 statement. “We engage crop consultants, soil tests and use the latest technology available to us. Our government should be strongly supporting the agronomic techniques that we have put into practice.”
One technique many Canadian farmers use is 4R nutrient stewardship.
The ag sector must communicate the benefits of 4R to highlight how it helps reduce fertilizer emissions, Everson said.
“It’s not the only key, but it certainly is an important one and farmers have been successfully implementing 4R nutrient stewardship,” he said.