Grain Farmers of Ontario ask federal parties to cut them some slack
GUELPH — Offer a proven alternative to fossil fuels for drying grain or exempt us from carbon pricing, Ontario’s largest commodity organization tells political candidates during this federal election campaign.
Until alternatives to fossil fuel-fired grain drying exist, grain farmers “require an exemption on carbon pricing on fuel and the promised retroactive rebate on carbon pricing paid to date on fuel for grain drying,” declares the GFO.
The GFO also wants a carbon offset market that “allows for the realities of grain farming,” as well as “science-based tools” to manage nutrients and reduce emissions, including the 4R program. Also demanded is more support of biofuels through a Clean Fuels Regulation.
Beyond the domestic carbon issue, GFO also wants a business risk program that “works for farmers” rather than the current “inadequate” AgriStability program; and a resolution to outstanding trade issues such as “massively subsidized” imports that aren’t subject to carbon pricing and China’s defacto ban on Canadian soybeans. The trade file includes the need for a UK/Canada agreement for continued tariff-free grain access to that country.
“These ‘asks’ are specifically designed to promote the sustainability of grain farming in Ontario for the future and to ensure that farmers can continue to do the important work they do to provide safe healthy food and help the environment,” said GFO chair Brendan Byrne.
On the carbon tax issue, Ontario Federation of Agriculture Vice President Mark Reusser notes “there are currently no replacements” for fossil fuels in agricultural production and that the existing carbon regime “cannot drive conservation efforts on farms and serves only to reduce already thin farm margins.”
Consequently, the OFA wants the political parties to support exemptions or rebates for farmers “where there are no feasible alternatives” to fossil fuels, he says. And any carbon taxes that are collected must “assist agriculture research, innovation, adaptational and resilience measures.”
For its part, the OFA wants better support programs that recognize the environmental good that farmers already do.
The OFA is calling for the development of a Canadian Agri-Food Labour Strategy and continued support for the Temporary Foreign Worker program.
The OFA also echoes the GFO in calling for stronger business risk management programs and revisions to AgriStability.