In passing The Saskatchewan First Act earlier this month, Justice Minister Bronwyn Eyre explained in a recent interview how the province is hedging against a potential fertilizer mandate by the federal government.
The Act would reinforce provincial jurisdiction over things like “the regulation of fertilizer use in Saskatchewan, including application, production, quantities and emissions.”
In an interview with Pipeline Online, Eyre explained how fertilizer regulations could be disastrous for an agriculturally-heavy province like Saskatchewan.
“There is a cross referencing between federal powers and provincial powers over agriculture. There always has been. It’s a little bit unique, in that regard, in contrast to, for example, natural resources,” explained Eyre.
“This is important, though. The day-to-day business of farming, and use of fertilizer, has always been within the provincial realm.”
Eyre pointed to an Agriculture Canada discussion paper which cites the potential to “mandate or prohibit use of a specific agricultural practice to efficiently and significantly scale up the adoption of practices or technologies that currently have low levels of adoption.”
To date, the federal government has claimed that a 30% fertilizer emission reduction target was “voluntary” for farmers but as exclusively reported by True North, Ottawa has flirted with more heavy handed approaches including a carbon tax-like “regulatory backstop” in discussion papers.
“It suggested that certain practices COULD be prohibited,” said Eyre.
“So, it does have potential Sask First implications. And so it’s one of many things we’re looking at, in terms of what would go through the Sask First tribunal hopper, as it were.”
Eyre also said that fertilizer usage reductions would cause significant harm for farmers.
“There’s a very good example of economic harm,” said Eyre.