Jan 17th: Canadian farmers are opposed to the carbon tax, says Conservative MP John Barlow

Written By Guest User, Posted on January 18, 2020

Conservative MP John Barlow has long advocated against the federal carbon tax. With the uphill battle to convince the public daunting, the direct costs on households prove unappealing. With a $20 per tonne carbon tax instituted nationwide on January 1st, 2020, that number is expected to rise to $50 per tonne in 2022. To meet our Paris Targets by 2030, we would require a $210 per tonne carbon tax

By those estimates, gas prices are expected to rise as much as 40 cents per litre. Additionally, it is par for the course that grocery bills rise, especially during the winter months. While it impacts everyday Canadians, its effects are exacerbated in the agriculture industry, especially for farmers.

“The margins are so tight in agriculture, that when you add these additional input costs, you know it is tough. This is a cost they bear,” Barlow commented.

“I’ve seen bills range from thousands of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars depending on the size of the farm.”

The struggles of farmers have widely been documented, with their concerns relayed to the government, but to no avail. Notably, the costs associated with drying grain are extensive, and the quality of the product lower. Strained trade relations with China have exacerbated the problem, with many scraping the bottom of the barrel to get by.

Canada-China tensions made our farmers sacrificial lambs

“When it comes to canola, 40% of our canola seed is exported to China. No market replaces that,” states Barlow. He emphasized that while we could find new markets that is a process that would take years to replace the volume of canola that China purchases. The good news, however, is that China remains keen buyers of Canadian pork and beef.

Barlow explained that this was done because its local product was contaminated by disease. “China is being devastated by Asian swine fever … they need Canadian pork and beef.” And it’s no wonder, with a population of well over one billion people, China needs to import large amounts of food and seed to keep its populace fed.

Though Canada is ranked sixteenth in per capita emissions, a carbon tax punishes its farmers for feeding a rising global population.

There has been a general trend in the past two decades, which has emphasized buying local and making less trade with places such as China. According to the Canola Council of Canada, Canola exports alone, bring in $26.7 billion to the Canadian economy each year, employs 250,000 people and adds $11.2 billion in wages. 

With the carbon tax and the Chinese reluctance to buy Canadian goods, these farmers are feeling the pinch, with over $1 billion in lost revenue from canola alone. 

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Barlow also pointed out that no real conversation is occurring between the urban and rural locales, nationwide. 

“In Western Canada, we look at this as an east versus west issue, which is true, but it’s also urban versus rural. There is a massive disconnect,” says Barlow.

He pointed out how farmers have made advancements to reduce the impact of their activities on the environment, and that “the carbon footprint of Canada’s agriculture sector has been substantially reduced.”

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