GUELPH — Grain-drying must be exempted from the federal carbon tax and any money paid to date must be reimbursed to those farms and agribusinesses. That’s the continued demand of the Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO), whose president decries the Trudeau government’s rejection of such relief as “inconceivable.”
The GFO is not satisfied with a tax credit scheme recently proposed by the Trudeau government because it would return less than 20% of costs incurred by corn producers. “In no way” does the tax credit replace the “much-needed exemption,” the GFO says in a release highlighting the need to entirely exempt the gas and propane consumed while drying grain.
According to the GFO, individual members already pay tens of thousands of dollars in direct and indirect carbon taxes. And this tax is set to increase to $170 per tonne of carbon in the next few years – more than eight times the initial cost. In the next decade some farmers could pay $50,000 to $70,000 just in carbon tax.
This added expense “cannot be borne by farmers growing food,” the group insists. “In Ontario grain drying is a necessary part of producing high quality, healthy, viable grains – you can‘t make bread from spoiled grain. Additionally, farmers cannot compete with US farmers who don‘t have to pay the carbon tax to grow their grain.”
“It is inconceivable that the government is not providing relief to grain farmers by putting into place an exemption for the carbon tax on drying grain,” GFO president Brendan Byrne said. “All food production should be exempt from this tax.”
GFO “has repeatedly shared data showing the negative impacts of the cost of the carbon tax with the government, along with the fact that alternatives don‘t exist,” Byrne added. “The government has created an exemption for greenhouse growers and others who don‘t have alternatives for 80 percent of use, while grain farmers in Ontario are covered for less than 20 per cent. I would ask the government to explain this discrepancy.”
A private members’ bill came very close to meeting the GFO’s demand in the last Parliament. MP Philip Lawrence’s (PC-Northumberland-PeterboroughSouth) bill sailed through the House of Commons with every Tory in support, as well as support from some NDP and the Green Party members and two Liberal members, Francis Drouin, of Prescott-Russell, in Eastern Ontario and a Nova Scotia MP. But the bill died when the Senate failed to hold a final vote before the federal election was called last September.
A Conservative official told Farmers Forum the party hopes to have one of its members bring forward a resurrected version of the defeated bill.