Farmers unhappy with feds’ carbon tax plan

Farmers say on-farm fuel exemptions from Canada’s price-on-pollution plan aren’t enough.

Ottawa announced its plan for the four provinces that don’t have a carbon pricing system Oct. 23, touting farm exemptions, rural top-ups and climate action incentive payments.

In Saskatchewan the average household would receive an incentive payment of $598 in 2019 while paying only $403 in carbon tax on fossil fuels, the federal government said.

In Manitoba, the payment would be $336 compared to a cost of $232.

The difference is smaller in the other two provinces: Ontario and New Brunswick.

The government said the incentive is to help people make changes to reduce emissions, but many questioned why they have to pay a tax that the government has pledged to return directly to them.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said the plan is a sham and “a cynical attempt to buy your vote with your money.”

The farm exemption includes fuel used in tractors, trucks and machinery only on the farm.

Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan president Todd Lewis said that means farmers will feel the pinch of increased costs everywhere else, including getting grain to market, buying fertilizer and drying crops.

“Everything has to get trucked in or out,” he said. “And look at the propane usage on this year’s crop as we dry it down.”

He said farmers already try to save energy costs as much as possible; a carbon tax doesn’t mean they can change their behaviour.

Farmers in the United States, China and India, some of Canada’s biggest competitors, aren’t paying a carbon tax, which will hurt competitiveness, Lewis said.

Farmers on social media expressed similar concerns, noting that they can’t pass on the costs they will be forced to pay.

The federal plan includes a rural supplement of 10 percent for people who live in small and rural communities. In Saskatchewan, that includes anyone outside of Regina and Saskatoon.

People will notice increased federal fuel charges at the gas pumps beginning April 1, 2019. Gasoline will go up 4.42 cents per litre.

Contact karen.briere@producer.com

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