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The devastating fertilizer policy is disingenuous

To be successful an industry must have a stable foundation built upon social, environmental, and economic sustainability, but the Liberal government is kicking the legs out from under Canadian agriculture. 

Policies based on activism, not science, like the carbon tax and fertilizer emissions reduction will make farming economically and environmentally unsustainable in Canada. 

The timing for these nonsensical policies could not be worse as people here – and around the world – depend on Canadian agriculture.  

The rise of international conflict has led to a humanitarian and food security crisis. According to the World Food Programme, 800 million face food insecurity and that number is rising as a result of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.  

In the Netherlands farmers are courageously opposing environmental policy that will devastate small family farms and collapse food sovereignty in a nation which is the second largest food exporter in the world. 

We are witnessing firsthand the significance of food security as a vital geopolitical tool. This is not a time for Canada to go backward, it is our country’s moral obligation to produce a reliable, trusted and affordable supply of vital commodities to feed Canadians and support countries facing food insecurity. 

When the Liberal government has a choice to increase agricultural exports during a global food crisis or implement harmful regulations under a guise to address climate change, the Liberals chose the latter. 

The Liberals announced a target reduction in absolute levels of fertilizer emissions by 30% below 2020 levels by 2030. This target is nothing more than the Liberals “following their friends to jump off a bridge”, so to speak.

Canadian agriculture can play a crucial role in our economic recovery but not if our farm families lose everything under harmful Liberal policies. According to a study by MNP, the 30 per cent reduction in fertilizer will cost our economy about $48 billion by 2030. A 30 per cent reduction in fertilizer means losses in productivity. By 2030, yield gaps are estimated at 23.6 bushels per acre per year for canola, 67.9 bushels per acre for corn, and 36.1 per acre bushels per acre for spring wheat.

This estimated loss of food production not only worsens the global food crisis but jeopardizes our self-sustainability to feed our own nation. 

Lower yields mean fewer commodities resulting in much higher food costs. Liberal spending has already led to record inflation including food prices up almost 10 per cent since June. The fertilizer reduction will exasperate inflation and food prices will continue to increase for Canadian families already struggling to put food on the table. 

For Liberal MPs like Lloyd Longfield to say “nothing to see here” when it comes to the devastating fertilizer policy is disingenuous. Farmers are frustrated and consumers are worried. 

The Liberal government refuses to acknowledge the fact Canada is already leading the world in sustainable agriculture. Thanks to innovative practices like variable application rates, precision farming, zero tillage and 4R nutrient stewardship Canadian farmers lead the world in environmental sustainability and are between 50 and 70 per cent more efficient in fertilizer use than other countries. 

These achievements and commitments to protecting our environment and reducing emissions should be celebrated and encouraged, not punished with carbon taxes and harmful regulations. For our farmers to remain environmentally sustainable, they must too be economically sustainable. 

If protecting the environment and rescuing emissions is truly the goal the Liberals are doing the exact wrong thing. When it comes to reducing emissions, the Liberals should see Canadian agriculture for what it is – not the problem, but rather a part of the solution. 

What can we do change this policy? There was at least the appearance something can be done when Canadians were invited to submit input on the current policy until August 31. I encourage every Canadian to contribute because whether you grow food or eat it what is unfolding has a significant impact on every one of us. The way in which we choose to respond will be critical. 

The real quest is whether the Liberals, especially the Agriculture Minister, listen to the voices of Canadians.

Gauging by Mr. Longfield’s column the answer is clear – the Liberals have already made up their mind and have no intention of listening to Canadians who are standing up for farmers and consumers. 

They are choosing activism over ensuring Canadians have access to quality, affordable and sustainable food. 

  • John Barlow, MP for Foothills [Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Agri-Food and Food Security]