Why agriculture producers and partners are working to amend the GHG Pollution Pricing Act
Jessica Monserrate – Head of Sustainability, North America
Industry stakeholders including BASF are collectively voicing our support for Bill C-234, which recently passed in the House of Commons with a 176-146 vote after its third reading. Now heading to the Senate, Bill C-234 would amend the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act and provide an exemption to the tax, allowing farmers to invest their money in the long-term efficiency and sustainability of their operations instead of punitive taxes.
The Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act taxes Canadian farmers on carbon usage for essential farming activities such as irrigation, grain drying, feed preparation, and heating or cooling of barns and other agricultural structures. A carbon price on fuel used for these necessary practices hinders farmers’ ability to provide abundant, safe, sustainable food to Canadians and the growing world. Without a viable alternative available, farmers have no other option but to use existing fuels. A tax on this required use will only further diminish the incredibly thin margins on which they operate and presents potentially devastating consequences for the future of Canadian agriculture.
Farmers continue to be faced with challenges such as geo-political tensions, supply chain issues, rising input costs, and an increasing pressure to feed a growing world with less, all impacting their bottom line. Layer in inflation and increased interest rates, the cost to access capital is higher and on-farm budgets are tighter, making it more difficult for farmers to invest in their operations.
Agriculture continues to be a major economic driver for Canada with producers contributing $135 billion to the country’s gross domestic product and providing one in nine Canadian jobs. With a growing global population and food security becoming increasingly important, the world needs Canadian farmers.
At BASF, we believe that Canadian farmers are a key solution to climate change for food, feed and fuel security. Sound economic climate policy is critical for farmers, particularly at this time of shifting climates. This policy risks hindering Canadian farmers’ competitiveness globally, hampering their abilities to be environmentally sustainable leaders where it really matters, such as managing healthy productive soils.
Adding further complexity and costs to farm operations destabilizes farmers’ ability to operate and runs the risk of jeopardizing the very family farm operations our economy relies on. The cost of this policy could be devastating for Canadian farmers and our domestic and global economies, and its benefit incredibly miniscule. The footprint of individual farm practices is dwarfed in comparison to other industries and top emitters, making it clear that placing the target on the backs of our Canadian farmers is misguided.
For generations, family farms have proven to be incredibly resilient, embodying the term sustainability by always leaving their land in better condition for future generations. Farmers have prioritized working with Mother Nature, seeking solutions and adopting new technologies and on-farm practices to enhance their soils’ organic matter. No one has been more impacted by our ever-changing climate, but with each growing season they rise to the challenge.
Thanks to precision agriculture and incredible technological advancements, farmers use less fertilizer, less water and less fuel to grow more food than ever before. No-till is a practice that was not forced upon farmers – they adopted it on their own accord to enhance their soils, increase fertility and in return, boost yields. As of 2019, agricultural soils in Canada are a net sink of 4.2Mt of carbon dioxide yearly, compared to a net source of 1.2Mt of carbon dioxide per year in 1981 (Source: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada). Many Canadian farms have been at the forefront of low-carbon and regenerative farming thanks to their innovative practices, and we continue to see yields and farm productivity increase across Canada.
While farmers have pushed the envelope for advancement on their own, solution providers such as ourselves need to continue to support farmers in creating efficiencies with the ultimate goal of producing more food with less resources. We intend to be there with innovative solutions and a renewed focus on soil health and reduced emissions where it matters most, bringing them the ground-breaking solutions they need for their unique operations. Farmers inspire us every day, and it’s what makes being part of Canadian agriculture as a solutions provider so special.
As an industry leader, we have an obligation to farmers to continue to sustain modern agriculture, advance our industry and rise to the challenge of feeding a growing world – together. Farmers really do have the biggest job on earth, and we’re here to support them every step of the way.
We stand with farmers and encourage policy makers to form policies that keep money in farmers pockets so they can invest in long-term sustainable practices on-farm. The exemption, as proposed in Bill C-234, will allow farmers to do just that. Canada needs sound climate change policies that won’t hold farmers back for a minor reward but instead support them to be economic and climate solutions leaders for the security of our industry, our country and globally.