Farmers contest minister’s claim that grain-farmers’ carbon costs are tiny

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Farmers contest minister's claim that grain-farmers' carbon costs are tiny
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Grain farmers are adamant that Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau was improper when she mentioned this week grain farmers have been, at most, paying $819 a 12 months in carbon tax to dry their merchandise, so they do not want a break on the federal carbon tax.

“The estimates vary from $210 to $819 per farm and 0.05 per cent to 0.42 per cent of complete farm working bills,” Bibeau mentioned in a information convention Tuesday.

Markus Haerle, chair of the Grain Farmers of Ontario, says the carbon-tax invoice for drying corn from his 800-hectare farm in St. Isidore, Ont., was $8,500 final fall, and that he’s not alone.

Late Friday, Bibeau’s spokesperson mentioned the figures Bibeau gave have been averages that modify by province, and specific farmers would possibly pay rather more.

Ontario farmers, together with grain-growers in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, are asking Bibeau to rethink her dedication to not exempt grain-drying from the carbon tax.

“It’s extremely disappointing,” mentioned Haerle.

Ottawa does exempt gasoline used to run farm automobiles, and partially exempt gasoline to warmth industrial greenhouses, primarily due to aggressive pressures with American farmers who do not pay the carbon tax, plus a scarcity of greener options.

The figures Marie-Claude Bibeau gave have been averages that modify by province, and specific farmers would possibly pay rather more, mentioned a spokesperson for the federal agriculture minister. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Ottawa’s carbon tax, which began at $20 per tonne of greenhouse-gas emissions produced and is rising $10 annually till it hits $50 in 2022, is utilized in provinces with out their very own equal costs. Proper now it applies at $30 a tonne in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.

At $20 a tonne, the worth provides about 3.9 cents to a cubic metre of pure fuel and three.1 cents to a litre of propane, the 2 fuels used to run grain dryers.

After a moist, late spring and an early, snowy fall, farmers final 12 months have been turning to grain-dryers greater than common and upped their lobbying efforts to get grain-drying exempted from the carbon tax as effectively. Bibeau requested provincial governments and farm teams to submit their prices after which analyzed these submissions.

It took Bibeau’s workplace 4 days to launch the precise information that went into its calculations.

The Alberta authorities estimated the fee in that province to be 16 cents an acre on common for all grains and oilseeds. The Agricultural Producers Affiliation of Saskatchewan mentioned it was about 51 cents an acre to dry wheat. Keystone Agricultural Producers in Manitoba mentioned it was $Three an acre for corn, based mostly on a survey of its members.

And the Grain Farmers of Ontario estimated $5.50 an acre for corn and about $2.18 for all grains.

Evaluation did not embody Manitoba numbers

Bibeau’s division then took the numbers offered by the farmers and did its personal evaluation, adjusting the submitted figures so that they may very well be in contrast instantly to one another.

That included tossing out Keystone’s $Three estimate altogether, as a result of it solely utilized to corn, which made up simply 5 per cent of all Manitoba farms, and utilizing Saskatchewan’s 51 cents for Manitoba as an alternative. As effectively, they utilized that 51 cents to all grains in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, not simply wheat.

With these numbers, and utilizing the overall variety of grain and oilseed farms, and their measurement, Bibeau’s officers concluded Alberta farmers have been paying on common $210 a 12 months in carbon tax to dry grain, $723 in Manitoba, $774 in Saskatchewan, and $819 in Ontario. The evaluation notes smaller farms would pay much less and bigger farms would pay extra.

Todd Lewis, chair of the Agricultural Producers Affiliation of Saskatchewan, mentioned the numbers do not make sense to him, with a few of his farmers spending upwards of $10,000 in carbon tax on grain drying.

Haerle mentioned he thinks the federal government should have taken the overall prices and divided them by the overall variety of grain farms, somewhat than simply those who have grain dryers on their very own properties. The charts offered to The Canadian Press Friday night time seem to substantiate Haerle’s perception.

Haerle mentioned some farms have their grain dried on the elevator, and never all the elevators raised their costs to replicate the price of the carbon tax, which he mentioned makes the federal government’s technique of taking the overall price and dividing it by all grain farms a poor reflection of what farmers are literally paying.

Todd Lewis, Agricultural Producers Affiliation of Saskatchewan chair, mentioned a few of his farmers spend greater than $10,000 in carbon tax on grain drying. (CBC)

Plus, mentioned Haerle, it prices extra to dry corn than different grains, and for his private expertise, in 2019 he solely used dryers on corn, which implies the federal government’s evaluation would vastly underestimate how a lot it price a farm like his.

Haerle additionally mentioned not like most companies, farmers do not set the costs they get for his or her merchandise, to allow them to’t increase their costs to move on the fee to customers.

Lewis mentioned there are methods to make grain dryers extra environment friendly however they’re very costly up-front and the tax is a lot it’ll imply farmers do not have the cash to spend money on upgrades.

Bibeau mentioned in a press release the federal government is prepared to work with provincial governments and farmers on that, pointing to the latest $2-million joint program with Alberta to cowl as much as half the prices of creating dryers extra environment friendly.

“We’re at all times open to working with our provincial counterparts on cost-shared Canadian Agricultural Partnership programming, resembling this,” Bibeau mentioned.

She additionally mentioned the carbon tax is being rebated 100 per cent to households and thru the Local weather Motion Incentive Fund, which helps companies, together with farmers, enhance their power effectivity.

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