Possible carbon tax exemption ‘good news’ for farmers: Maguire

A bill that would exempt some farming machinery from Canada’s carbon tax is moving so far successfully through Parliament — a move that Brandon–Souris MP Larry Maguire says is “good news” for Westman farmers.

Bill C-234 (An Act to amend the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act) passed at the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food and is now up for consideration in the House of Commons. The bill, put forward by Ben Lobb, MP for Huron–Bruce, Ont., seeks to change the definition of eligible farming machinery to explicitly exempt natural gas and propane used to generate heat for livestock barns and in grain drying from the federal carbon tax.

The exemption recognizes the “undue” financial burden the carbon tax places on farmers in Westman and throughout Canada, said Maguire. The tax is set at $50 per tonne of emissions.

“Farmers should not be punished for drying wet grain or heating their livestock barns during winter,” he said. “We’re trying to keep their costs down. And by keeping the farmers’ costs down, it keeps the price of food in line as much as we possibly can.”

At a time when worldwide food security is threated by the Russian war on Ukraine, Maguire said anything that can be done to secure food production and keep prices as low as possible must be supported.

“This should be something that all parties are in favour of.”

If the bill makes it through committee stages and reaches third reading in the House of Commons, it will allow livestock producers to cut down on the additional costs of maintaining best management practices of animal welfare, Keystone Agricultural Producers president Bill Campbell said.

“Keeping livestock warm during our harsh Canadian winters and cool during the hot days of summer is crucial to maintaining industry standards for animal welfare,” he said.

The passing of the bill will also help grain farmers and, in turn, allow them to continue meeting the demands of global food security, Campbell added.

“Grain drying keeps moisture levels down, which prevents food safety issues like the development of mycotoxins and protects the Canadian brand on the global market.”

Farmers need an exemption from the carbon tax, Campbell stressed, adding that KAP has been a longtime advocate of changing the tax since carbon pricing was first implemented in Canada in 2007.

Cancelling the carbon tax in its entirety is the goal of the Conservatives in Ottawa, Maguire said, since it “disproportionately” affects rural Canadians, who depend on food, clothing and other goods being shipped or hauled to them. The carbon tax has also led to the high inflation the country is seeing, Maguire said.

Steven Guilbeault, federal minister of environment and climate change, was unvailable for comment due to his attendance at COP27, the United Nations’ 27th climate conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun