By Connor Lynch
EDEN — Farmer and elevator operator Curtis VanQuaethem’s eyes just about bulged out of his head when he saw his latest dryer bill.
With the dryer running full-tilt on natural gas last month to dry out the wet corn, the carbon tax was 20 per cent of his bill, or an extra $7,300 on top of a $36,000 monthly hydro bill.
“And it’s not stopping at 20 per cent either. It’s gonna go up.” What’s doubly frustrating for VanQuaethem, who farms at Eden in Bruce County, is that he has no other way to run a dryer. He can’t pass that cost along and he’s not exactly running a factory. “A lot of my corn is being used for ethanol. I’m getting taxed for producing a renewable energy.”
Middlesex County farmer Larry Cowan wasn’t happy about his bill either: Nearly $900 in carbon tax added onto a $4,000 energy bill. The tax is a punishment on a sector that’s already taken plenty of action to help the environment, Cowan told Farmers Forum. “We have a government that seems to have no knowledge of what farmers are actually doing to help the environment,” including adapting 4-R principles to reduce nutrient runoff, improved crop rotations and the fact that crops sequester carbon.
“If a tax is the way to improve the environment, okay,” he said. “But I don’t believe it is.”
The Grain Farmers of Ontario have appealed to the federal government to drop the carbon tax on farmers for fuel used for drying. With corn coming in at high moisture, farmers are already going to be feeling it. “I am hearing from farmers from across Ontario, that this is a tax that farmers cannot afford to pay when markets and harvest conditions are so challenging,” said GFO president Markus Haerle.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe posted a bill to Twitter that showed a Saskatchewan farm with a grain dryer that had to pay just under $5,500 in carbon tax on its latest gas bill. The carbon tax was about 18 per cent of the total bill for $30,683.94. Also angering farmers was that HST was applied to the carbon tax (GST in Saskatchewan), thereby taxing a tax. Earlier this year, the federal government pushed the tax onto Ontario residents at $20 per tonne. By 2022, the tax will reach $50 per tonne.
The province continues to fight the carbon tax, announcing in October it would take its challenge to the Supreme Court. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation, which has intervened in all three provincial-level challenges in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta, also planned to intervene at the Supreme Court challenge, its federal director Aaron Wudrick told Farmers Forum.
The carbon tax is the federation’s top priority, Wudrick said, partly because the tax is too low to meaningfully reduce emissions, but is high enough to hurt industry. The fact that it’s a tax on a tax just adds insult to injury.
“However you feel about taxes, they’re supposed to be paid on base price. You’re not supposed to layer them.”
Farmers freak when they see carbon tax bill
By Connor Lynch