Better Carbon Pricing Exemptions for Farmers

March 4, 2022 | Suzanne Armstrong

Better Carbon Pricing Exemptions for Farmers

Many farmers feel that Canadian carbon pricing policies fail to take into account the realities of farming. During our annual Policy Tour discussions this winter, we have heard concerns from CFFO members that carbon pricing is adding costs to essential things like food production. Furthermore, where no alternative to fossil fuel currently exists, such as for grain drying, this tax cannot be avoided by changing or improving practices. Added costs will not help to incentivize change where there is no alternative. Ultimately, added costs in food production will increase the overall cost of food, which unfairly impacts those with fixed and low incomes.

Farmers would like to see policy tools like carbon pricing focus on increased costs for non-essential uses. Essential things like food production should be exempted from carbon pricing, especially where no alternative to fossil fuel use currently exists.  While some agricultural exemptions are already in place, such as for gasoline and diesel used on farm, some other key agricultural uses are currently subject to the tax.

Bill C-234: Changing Carbon Pricing for Farmers

The CFFO is pleased to write in support of Huron-Bruce MP Ben Lobb’s Private Member’s Bill C-234, “An Act to Amend the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act.” This Bill addresses key gaps in the current Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act.

As outlined in a recent article from Real Agriculture, this Bill revives and improves upon a previous attempt by Northumberland-Peterborough South MP Philip Lawrence, which started in 2020 but did not complete the steps for Royal Assent before the October 2021 election was called. The CFFO  wrote in support of this previous attempt to extend agricultural exemptions under the Act, as well.

Bill C-234 corrects a key oversight in the current Act that leaves farmers paying significant costs for essential fuels for heating barns and drying grains after harvest. We are pleased that the Bill calls for an exemption to be extended to include fuels used for these farming purposes.

Support for Farmers

Farmers continue to face challenges including weather extremes, market fluctuations, supply chain disruptions and on-farm labour shortages. In this context, farmers need greater support from government, not higher costs.

We hope that MPs in all parties will see the value of supporting this Private Member’s Bill as a way to support farmers. Agriculture is an industry vital to our food supply, health and economic prosperity.

Suzanne Armstrong is Director of Policy & Research for the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario. The CFFO Commentary represents the opinions of the writer and does not necessarily represent CFFO policy. The CFFO Commentary is heard weekly on CFCO Chatham, CKXS Chatham, CKNX Wingham, and CHLP Listowel.