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Reduction in Fertilizer Use would Cut Farm Production, Profitability: Survey

A forced reduction in fertilizer use would cut food production and decrease profitability, a survey of Canadian farmers has revealed. 

Nearly three-quarters (72%) of farmers said crop yields and overall food production will be reduced if the federal government forges ahead with a plan to reduce their use of nitrogen fertilizer, according to a recent Canadian Federation of Independent Business survey (CFIB). Further, almost two-thirds (60%) said a mandatory reduction would decrease the profitability of their agri-business, and 42% said it would be challenging as they have already reduced their nitrogen fertilizer use. 

The federal government is currently conducting consultations on its plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from nitrogen fertilizer by 30% below 2020 levels by 2030. Many farm organizations and the fertilizer industry have been critical of the proposal, contending producers are already doing enough on their own to cut fertilizer emissions. 

“Nitrogen fertilizer is an essential crop nutrient and an important input for Canadian farmers. Forcing them to reduce their use of fertilizer would result in decreased yield of their crop, less profitability and competitiveness,” said Taylor Brown, a policy analyst at CFIB. “Given the current global challenges to food supply, now is not the time to add policies that threaten to reduce yields even further.” 

CFIB’s recent research also shows Canadian farmers have already adopted or plan to adopt best practices to manage or reduce nitrogen emissions. Some of these practices include conservation tillage (53%), annual soil testing for nitrogen (50%), and rotating in nitrogen-fixing crops (50%). 

CFIB has sent a submission letter on the fertilizer emissions reduction target to the federal government urging it to keep its target voluntary, as it is now. 

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