Farmers still push for exemption on heating fuel

Farmers continue to put pressure on the Manitoba government to exempt barns, greenhouses and grain dryers from carbon taxes.

Thousands of dollars of new costs could be imposed on farmers using heating, cooling or drying machinery if the proposed $25 per tonne carbon tax is imposed.

Manitoba’s agriculture minister is offering no guarantees to provide an exemption, although he repeated his acknowledgement of the issue at Keystone Agricultural Producers’ annual convention.

“We’re having those conversations, but we haven’t got it finalized, to be honest,” Ralph Eichler told reporters Jan. 24.

If carbon costs are imposed on grain drying, it will be “much more expensive” for farmers to begin growing crops like corn, Manitoba Canola Growers Association president Chuck Fossay said during a resolutions session.

Manitoba Chicken Producers representative Jake Wiebe said the proposed Manitoba tax would cost the average Manitoba chicken farm $6,000.

The Manitoba government has butted heads with the federal government, which wants provinces to follow its carbon tax rate demands, ending up with a $50 per tonne price after rising in steps from $10 in 2018. Manitoba is proposing imposing a $25 per tonne levy that won’t change during the five years in which it is set to be operated. The provincial government has said it thinks the flat $25 will end up costing about the same amount as the rising federal rate.

When the provincial government released the rough details of its “made-in-Manitoba” carbon tax in October, an exemption for farm fuels was included. However, that was for gas and diesel and not energy for heating.

The chicken, hog and greenhouse industries use lots of energy for heating, cooling and drying, and farm organizations have called for a more general energy exemption for farmers.

The government has always accepted the concern, but repeatedly pointed out that it’s a complicated matter.

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