Farmers seek investments to adapt to proposed carbon pricing

OTTAWA, October 24, 2018 – Draft regulations announced yesterday concerning fuel costs and GHG emissions have addressed some of farmers’ concerns, but gaps remain, and the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) is keen to work with governments to develop new programs that will support the agriculture sector going forward.

“Canadian farmers know first-hand the effects of climate change. They see it in the shifting growing and rainfall patterns, and the movement of pests affecting our crops, among other changes. Farmers must be at the table when policies and programs are being developed, and the draft GHG and fuel regulations are no exception,” said Ron Bonnett, CFA President. “New pricing systems should be complemented by investments in our production systems.”

CFA is pleased that some exemptions are included in the draft regulations, but they must be expanded to cover other elements of farm operations. Gaps in proposed exemptions will leave some farmers at a competitive disadvantage.

CFA has recommended that “natural gas and propane” be added to the definition of Qualifying Farm Fuel; and that “heating and cooling of a building for agricultural production, including greenhouse vegetable and ornamentals production” be added to the definition of Eligible Farming Machinery. This would allow farmers to be exempt from surcharges applied to natural gas and propane fuels used for agricultural activities under the GGPPA. It would also permit exemptions from surcharges on fuels for equipment used to ensure produce quality through heating and cooling.

CFA commends the 80% exemption of natural gas and propane used exclusively for the operation of a commercial greenhouse for growing any plants including vegetables, ornamental plants, fruits, bedding plants, cut flowers, tree seedlings and medicinal plants. However, exemptions should also apply to machinery needed to cool a building for agricultural production.

Additionally, while eligible greenhouse operations do benefit from the natural gas and propane exemption, the amendment fails to capture this benefit for the broader sector. CFA calls for changes allowing all farmers to be eligible for the natural gas and propane exemption.

“Proposals on carbon pricing have become highly political in recent years, and CFA is focused on finding constructive solutions to help farmers — without getting engaged in partisan disagreements,” added Bonnett. “Canadian farmers are among the world’s best in sustainability and we can offer much more in terms of carbon offsets and advanced production methods. We need more research and new programs to support us. These benefits from investing in rural areas as a carbon sink will pay dividends for all Canadians.”