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Opinion: Farming is losing to misguided urban politics

Most Canadians have never been on a farm, let alone lived on one, which makes more than 98 percent of our population agriculturally illiterate.

For many Canadians, crop production is an unknown concept. Because of this, it’s relatively easy to use fear to influence public opinion on any food-related issue involving agriculture.

Our great rural-urban divide has always fuelled food politics but now, agri-food policies are increasingly being urbanized by an agenda that’s pushing the entire western world toward the precipice of a food security catastrophe.

The Justin Trudeau government wants a 30 percent reduction in emissions by 2030, which doesn’t necessarily include fertilizer. But producers claim that reducing nitrous oxide emissions can’t be achieved without reducing fertilizer use.

Most common fertilizers contain nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Nitrogen is the issue. Surpluses of nitrogen in the atmosphere can produce pollutants such as ammonia and ozone. Too much nitrogen will contaminate soils and waterways and, of course, harm our health. Policymakers have every right to be concerned.

But the federal government wants an absolute reduction in emissions, regardless of productivity or efficiency of fertilizer use. For many crops, Canadian farmers’ ability to grow anything will be severely compromised unless they use more land.

It’s unclear how food prices would be impacted but producing food on a large scale would likely become much less cost-effective.

Aggressive emissions targets will likely lead to more famine worldwide. And, since we trade with the rest of the world, mainly with the United States, our crops would likely become less competitive.

With lower supplies, input costs for food manufacturers and grocers would likely increase significantly, pushing food prices higher. This is one aspect of the emission reduction issue in farming.

The needs regarding food production vary widely from region to region and between crops. Supply-managed commodities like dairy, eggs and poultry will be spared, receiving more for their products no matter what. Most of these commodities are produced in Ontario and Quebec.

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