Tory members call for end to carbon tax

The other 18 recommendations to the federal government contained in the report are:

Conservative members of the House of Commons agriculture committee want the government to abandon its planned carbon tax.

In a dissenting opinion attached to the committee’s latest report tabled in the House last week, the Conservatives said the measure “disproportionately harms the agriculture sector and rural communities.”

The report, Toward a Resilient Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food System: Adapting to Climate Change includes 19 recommendations on how the government could help the industry.

But its recommendation on the issue of carbon pricing says only that the government “take into account the realities of the agriculture and agri-food sector when implementing greenhouse gas emissions reduction measures in order to avoid making the sector less competitive.”

The report is the result of a study undertaken between November 2017 and February 2018. The committee heard from witnesses on the issues of climate change, and water and soil conservation.

Witnesses told the committee the sector is energy-intensive and there is no way around using fossil fuels.

“While fuel used for certain agricultural activities is exempt from carbon pricing, some witnesses remain concerned about the carbon pricing system,” the report said.

“They fear that carbon pricing will hurt Canada’s competitiveness especially as Canada’s main competitors, including the United States are not imposing such a system, with Australia repealing theirs in 2014.”

The Conservative dissenting view noted that witnesses repeatedly said farmers and ranchers don’t get recognition in the current policy for measures they’ve already taken to reduce their environmental footprint.

“Throughout the study it became clear Liberal members of the committee purposely avoided discussion or inclusion of politically inconvenient facts related to the economic aspects of the government’s key component of their Pan-Canadian Framework, the carbon tax,” they said.

The Conservatives included information from a parliamentary budget officer’s report on the costs of carbon pricing in the four provinces that already have systems and indicate the tax won’t be cost neutral.

And, agriculture department officials told the committee that a preliminary analysis of a $50-per-tonne tax found it would cost western Canadian farmers, on average, $3,705 each year. The cost to eastern farmers would be $2,423.

“In an internal memo to the agriculture minister which contained the analysis it indicated a $50-per-tonne carbon tax was too low to achieve the target of a two-percent reduction of agricultural GHG emissions and a $100-per-tonne carbon tax was needed instead,” the Conservative opinion said.

“The Liberal government has lost the confidence of the agriculture and agri-food stakeholders. They must reverse damaging policies to regain the lost confidence and trust.”

  • conduct an analysis of Canada’s soils to measure the economic benefit of carbon sequestration
  • invest in appropriate water management
  • create incentives for farmers to adopt integrated water-management and land-use systems to improve downstream water quality
  • support research that strengthens the environmental sustainability of the sector
  • work with the Pest Management Regulatory Agency and industry to mitigate the effects that could happen from banning pesticides without clear alternative solutions
  • support research on livestock production to improve animal genetics and diet that could reduce GHG emissions
  • Improve approval processes for new crop varieties;
  • increase research investment in ecological and organic agriculture
  • provide full funding for the organic standards review that began in March
  • support agroforestry to increase soil carbon sequestration potential
  • adopt policies and trade agreements that protect Canadian industry from economies that don’t have the same environmental standards
  • focus climate change efforts on adaptation and mitigation while maintaining competitiveness
  • support research extension to close gaps between researchers and producers
  • support information sharing
  • recognize the role of farmers as environmental stewards
  • encourage climate-resilient practices, equipment and technology
  • collaborate with the provinces to support greater recognition and measurement of ecosystem services
  • develop business risk management programs to meet needs of all producers
  • The committee has asked for a “comprehensive” response from the government.

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