Farmers are being “unfairly burdened” by the Trudeau government’s carbon tax, the head of a major agricultural industry group says. 

True North spoke to Western Canadian Wheat Growers president Gunter Jochum, who blasted the tax for forcing farmers – as primary producers of goods – into a corner. 

“Absolutely we are unfairly targeted because we as a primary producer have no way of dealing with the carbon tax,”  said Jochum. “It is a pure cost to us, and there isn’t really a way for us to become more efficient.” 

“We were in a meeting two years ago when they first came out with the carbon tax, and we told the government that 75% to 85% of what we produce is exported, and we get it to export position via rail. So, we said to put a carbon tax on fuel, for example, that the railway uses, they will just offload that cost onto us farmers – and how are we going to make the railway, for example, more efficient? It is already one of the most efficient ways of transporting goods.” 

Critics including Jochum have said that the federal carbon tax is irresponsible during a time of looming food supply issues exacerbated by inflation and the Russia-Ukraine war. On Apr. 1, the federal carbon tax increased from $40 per tonne to $50 per tonne, adding another 2.2 cents in tax to a litre of gasoline.

“It’s totally unfair. The next thing would be anything that we need on the farm like our equipment that is built, the manufacturers are burdened with the carbon tax, and all they do is bill it into the cost of manufacturing and pass it on down to the farmers. Yes, of course, farmers are unfairly carrying that burden,” said Jochum. 

The agriculture industry has raised additional concerns about the high cost of fertilizer, which could impact their yields down the line. The president of the National Farmers Union Katie Ward told parliamentarians in February that farmers were “facing a fertilizer crisis.” Additionally, the Liberal government has also required farmers to reduce emissions from fertilizer by 30% over the next seven years.  

“Fertilizer has tripled in the last 18 months, and other input costs for farmers have doubled. The price of wheat has approximately doubled in the last 12 months,” explained Jochum. 

Conservative MP Philip Lawrence echoed Jochum’s concerns about the carbon tax, calling it an unfair punishment which barely affects Canada’s emissions levels. According to Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) estimates, the carbon tax could cost farmers over a billion dollars by 2031. 

“The PBO actually updated a report calculating that the proposed measures of Bill C-206 would save farmers a cumulative total of $1.104 billion over a ten-year period between 2021-22 and 2030-31,” Lawrence told True North.  “A more recent report on C-234 updated the figure to $1.107 billion.” 

“So, to summarize, the carbon tax is a huge burden on farmers with minimal positive impacts on the environment. Where farmers simply do not have other options, I think it is fair to say that they are being unfairly punished by the Liberal carbon tax.“ 

Bills C-206 and C-234 would give fuel and equipment emissions used by farmers exempt status from the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Act.