Farmers Forum staff
OTTAWA — Farmers won’t be reimbursed for the fertilizer tariffs they’ve paid out, nor will they see the removal of Ottawa’s controversial 35 % levy anytime soon. Federal finance minister Chrystia Freeland dashed both of those hopes in the 2023 budget, and Eastern Canada’s unhappy grain-growing groups, most affected by the tariff, say she missed the mark.
Rather than repay each farmer’s tariff expense incurred after Ottawa imposed the charge last year, the budget plows the disputed $34.1-million into a climate change grant program over three years. Eligible Eastern Canadian farmers will only be able to access funding if it’s for “nitrogen management practices that reduce fertilizer use” on their farms.
The country’s eastern grain producer groups, including the Grain Farmers of Ontario, call the budget a “huge disappointment” for farmers burdened by the “ineffective and ill-advised” tariff.
“While the budget mentions the impact of the invasion in Ukraine on farmers, it does not provide a mechanism to get money back directly to farmers who paid the tariff,” they complain in a joint March 29 statement. “Today, farming has never been riskier as a family business, and we are disappointed to see our government use money taken from farmers for geopolitical purposes. We will continue to advocate for the tariffs paid by farmers to be returned to farmers.”
The budget also leaves the 35 % tariff — unique among G7 countries — firmly in place going forward. The Trudeau government slapped the charge on Russian and Belarusian fertilizer in March 2022, following Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Critics argue the policy only punishes Canadian farmers, not Russia.