Trudeau’s fertilizer plan targets farmers rather than working with them

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It’s always interesting to hear Liberals accusing others of fueling division when that seems to be their daily bread.

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This week it was Liberal MP Lloyd Longfield, a backbencher from Guelph, who was chosen to be the face of a fertilizer column accusing opponents of the Trudeau government’s plan of fueling division. for political purposes.

He and the government he serves might want to look in the mirror.

If you haven’t heard, the Trudeau Liberals want Canadian farmers to reduce their fertilizer emissions, particularly nitrous oxide emissions, to 30% below 2020 levels by 2030. The government is asking an absolute reduction in emissions, but the agriculture industry would prefer to talk about reducing emissions on an intensity basis – like using the same amount of fertilizer but producing more food.

No dice, say the Trudeau Liberals; hence the stalemate and the anger of farmers and industry groups. If imposed, this plan will result in lower crop yields for farmers and lower incomes, but higher food prices for families.

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In his op-ed, Longfield argued that the federal government’s plan doesn’t include a “fertilizer ban,” but I don’t know of anyone who claims it’s a “ban” rather than a reduction. by 30%.

While the government says it does not require a 30% reduction in fertilizer use, the farmers and industry groups I speak with say that a 30% reduction in emissions actually requires a 30% reduction % of fertilizers. Most farmers in Canada already use what is called the “4R system”, which stands for right source, right rate, right time, right place.

Fertilizer is one of the most expensive inputs available to a farmer in the best years; for those who follow the industry, prices have skyrocketed in recent months. No one wants to use more fertilizer than absolutely necessary, and they use reduction strategies.

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“I only use the amount I need to grow my crop,” a southwestern Ontario farmer told me last month.

“You can’t afford that much money,” said another Saskatchewan farmer.

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Meanwhile, industry groups are wondering where this reduction target came from, given that they were not consulted before the target was announced.

“There was no prior consultation. No modeling or analysis was provided to explain this 30% target. It seems to have been pulled out of nowhere,” an industry source said in July.

The target did not come from the Ministry of Agriculture but from the Ministry of the Environment, where the former Greenpeace activist and Minister of the Environment Steven Guilbeault is pushed by his former colleagues. Earlier this week, Greenpeace issued a press release, stating “Emissions from synthetic nitrogen fertilizers in Canada are among the highest in the world per capita.

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This is what drives the Trudeau government, the Greenpeace agenda. While Canada is higher on emissions from fertilizer per capita measurement, it is because we are a large country with few people.

When measured by the amount of fertilizer used per hectare of cropland, Canada is doing incredibly well, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

While Canadian farmers use an average of 80 kilograms of fertilizer per hectare of land, this figure rises to 109 kilograms in France, 120 kilograms in India, 160 kilograms in the United Kingdom, 190 kilograms in China and 205 kilograms in the Netherlands. .

Farmers and industry groups are constantly looking for improvements and are willing to work with the federal government to improve their systems. Right now, however, they feel like they are being lectured by bureaucrats in Ottawa rather than being listened to by a government that says they want to be partners.

Instead of fighting straw men like the “fertilizer ban,” the Trudeau government should take the time to talk to farmers and try to understand their concerns.

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