ONTARIO — To avoid jeopardizing Canadian crop production, Ottawa needs to lay off the punitive tariffs on Russian and Belarusian fertilizer ordered before March 2nd of this year, says the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario (CFFO), adding its voice to the original request made by the Ontario Agri Business Association (OABA).
The OABA has noted that about a third of Ontario’s nitrogen and phosphate fertilizer is mainly imported from Russia. Likewise, 85 to 90% of Eastern Canada’s nitrogen fertilizer is normally supplied by Russia, according to Fertilizer Canada.
Canada announced a 35% tariff on Russian fertilizer March 3, in response to that country’s invasion of Ukraine.
In a recent letter to the federal agriculture minister, CFFO President Ed Scharringa warns of that sanction potentially doing more damage to Canadian farmers than Russia. There’s little time left for agri-businesses and farmers to source alternatives for this growing season, according the organization representing 4,000 Ontario farm families.
The CFFO supports “the need to send a clear message to Russia and stand against the atrocities now being carried out against the people and land of Ukraine,” and care must taken “that more harm to others, at home and globally, is not caused instead,” the letter asserts.
Canada has a “moral responsibility” to help fill global food demand, and “Canadian farmers’ crops must not be jeopardized as a result of efforts to speak out against the war in Ukraine,” according to the CFFO president.
In addition to exempting fertilizer orders made before March 2, the CFFO and OABA want tariffs collected after that date to be placed in trust until there’s “further clarity” on the matter. They’re also calling on the government to compensate farmers and agribusinesses hurt by the tariff, and to allow the unloading of in-transit Russian and Belarusian fertilizer shipments at Canadian ports.
Fertilizer prices are already currently high, Scharringa writes, and adding the tariff on top of that will only hurt Ontario farmers and ultimately the consumers of this food, not Russia or Belarus.