Farmers Forum staff
OTTAWA — A British Columbia senator appointed by Justin Trudeau has questioned the need to exempt grain-drying and barn-heating from the federal carbon tax, as the Senate recently debated a bill to make that change.
Senator Yuen Pau Woo pushed back against Bill C-234, arguing “the value of a carbon tax is greatest when it has few exemptions.” Woo instead suggested other means of supporting the affected operators, during the May 9 exchange in the Upper Chamber. “The traditional remedy for these kinds of problems in economics is price and income support. Why don’t we look to that kind of protection … rather than fiddling with a carbon tax and creating a carve out that might distort incentives away from our combined and collective goal of reducing carbon emissions?” Woo said.
The senator also fretted that if the bill passed, farmers wouldn’t invest their carbon-tax savings in geothermal and solar technology to cut carbon emissions.
Newfoundland and Labrador Senator David Wells, sponsor of the bill through the Senate, disputed Woo’s use of the term “carve out.” Wells said the bill was simply an expansion of existing carbon-tax exemptions for agriculture, such as the tractor fuel and the majority of greenhouse heating costs already free of the charge. The fact that grain-drying and barn-heating were not originally excluded from the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act was an “oversight” in need of correction, the Conservative senator said.
C-234 is the private member’s bill of MP Ben Lobb (CON — Huron-Bruce). It’s currently in the Senate after passing all three readings in the House of Commons earlier this year. Canadian farmers have been eagerly awaiting the bill’s passage because the ever-increasing carbon-tax continues to make grain-drying more expensive relative to the American competition. The carbon-tax exemption would expire after 8 years but could be extended with a motion passed in the Commons at that time.
A similar bill died in the Senate when a federal election was called in the summer of 2021.
The Grain Farmers of Ontario estimates that individual farmers could end up paying $50,000 to $70,000 in annual carbon tax by the end of this decade, unless the charge is removed from grain-drying.
Ontario Senator Rob Black, another Trudeau appointee, said the bill wasn’t perfect, “but I believe we need to work diligently to pass this bill as soon as possible before we rise for the summer recess. Our farmers need this relief now for this coming fall’s harvest and for future planning.”