ONTARIO — Ontario grain-drying operators are grappling with the compounding dual cost implications of the Supreme Court’s thumbs-up to the federal carbon tax and a recalcitrant Michigan governor’s thumbs down (if not a middle finger) to a critical supply pipeline on which Canada relies.
In a 6-3 decision late last month, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the Trudeau government’s national carbon tax, meaning no respite from thousands of additional dollars tacked onto the propane and natural gas bills of farms and agribusinesses that dry this country’s newly harvested corn and other grains every fall. The tax came into effect a year ago and is due to triple by 2030.
Meanwhile, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer isn’t backing down from her plan to effectively shut down the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline leading into neighbouring Ontario by mid-May, a move industry observers fear would almost immediately choke off propane, gasoline and diesel supplies in this province and Quebec.
Both Marty Derks of Derks Elevator Inc. in Chesterville and Lloyd Crowe of Reynolds Farms in Picton expressed grave concern over the high court’s decision on the carbon tax.
“It’s extremely damaging,” said Derks, pointing out that locally grown and dried grain corn competes with the same product brought in from the U.S., where a carbon tax doesn’t apply. “So it comes across the water, by boats consuming 63,000 gallons of bunker crude per day, because it’s cheaper, and I’m supposed to compete with that.”
Added Derks, “Basically, I’m in a global market with my hands tied behind my back, standing waist-deep in quicksand, trying to fight off a tiger.”
A bitterly disappointed Crowe said he wasn’t surprised that Canada’s “‘liberal Supreme Court” sided with the Trudeau Liberals on the carbon tax “even though it was wrong, and it hurts the country …
“They sure aren’t looking after farmers’ interests.”
“Yeah, the battle is on,” Crowe added, suggesting that tractorcades may need to roll again. “It’s a hard time getting anyone to listen.”
Both Derks and Crowe say there’s no alternative to propane or natural gas to dry crops. “And yet marijuana greenhouses are exempt; I mean, come on,” exclaimed Crowe.
As for the machinations in Michigan, Derks said he’s recently ordered as much diesel fuel as possible for the other aspects of his farm business.