Saskatchewan rural communities want to lobby Ottawa to reconsider its demand that farmers reduce emissions from fertilizer use by 30% at a time of uncertain global food supplies and skyrocketing agriculture input costs. 

The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) recently passed a motion to lobby the federal government to reverse course on the voluntary reduction plan citing “detrimental effects” that the policy has on the farming economy and food production. 

“The Federal Government is planning to reduce fertilizer emissions by 30% by 2030 for Canadian agri-businesses,” the motion reads. 

“Saskatchewan is an agriculturally based province, and such a reduction will have a major impact on food production and farm viability.”

The motion goes on to cite how nitrogen fertilizer is an essential input for Saskatchewan farmers and claims that the “farm sector has been singled out for emission reductions.” 

First introduced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in his government’s 2020 climate plan, the targets have caused friction between Ottawa and some farmers groups who have concerns that such a reduction would negatively impact yields. 

As exclusively reported by True North, Ontario Federation of Agriculture President Peggy Brekveld told the Commons agriculture committee last month that farmers were “very nervous” about availability of fertilizer inputs while citing the Liberal government reduction targets. 

“One thing I will say is that farmers are very, very nervous about the potential of losing the ability to use inputs, including fertilizer,” said Brekveld. 

“There has been clarity that the government is looking to reduce emissions, and I understand that, but on the other side, many farmers see that if we measure using fertilizer, we’re probably making a mistake, because when we use fertilizer, if we don’t use enough, we actually degrade the soil.”

Saskatchewan has already taken steps to carve out some autonomy from the federal government when it comes to greenhouse gas emission regulations. This week Premier Scott Moe unveiled Bill 88, also known as The Saskatchewan First Act

Bill 88 would allow the province to decide the “regulation of environmental standards and the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions and other emissions; and the source of fuel for electrical generation, including renewable and non-renewable resources.”

Similar to SARM’s motion, early in October, a motion before the Manitoba Legislative Assembly also called on the federal government to scrap its fertilizer emission targets citing harm to Canada’s food security. 

“(We call on) the federal government to abandon their fertilizer reduction strategy that will hurt Manitoba farmers, producers and families, and additionally ensure that there are no penalties or exclusions from federal programs for farmers who do not meet these arbitrary targets,” the resolution read.