Conservative MP John Barlow, the Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Agri-Food, and Food Security was joined by a group of independent farmers from across Canada this morning at a press conference to address the games being played in the Senate to kill Bill C-234.
"Our Canadian farmers are world leaders in sustainable and efficient food production. But after eight years of Justin Trudeau and his costly carbon tax, their livelihoods and their family farms are in jeopardy. This is a reality in rural communities across Canada, where farmers do not have any other alternatives to heat and cool their barns and dry their grain. They do everything they can to innovate, adopt new technology, and ensure environmental sustainability of their operations."
The bill would remove the carbon tax on natural gas and propane used for on farm use for grain drying, irrigation, heating, and cooling livestock barns and greenhouses.
He says this common sense Conservative Bill C 234, was introduced because a tax on farmers is an increase in the cost of food for every single Canadian.
Barlow talked about the fact that four new Senators who have not participated in any meetings or discussions on the Bill are expected to vote it down.
"The Liberals in the Senate are trying to kill Bill C 234 today and bury the news in the Fall Economic Statement. In fact, they are swearing in four new Senators today to ensure they have the votes they need to kill this bill. These senators, including Roger Cuzner, who is a former Liberal Member of Parliament so not exactly an independent Senate, have not participated in any debates or any discussions on this bill. So it'd be extremely disingenuous if those five new senators were to vote on this bill."
Colin Chapdelaine with Star Produce - a grower and marketer of greenhouse products in Alberta and British Columbia talked about his concerns with the Bill at its impact on competitiveness.
"The competitiveness, getting our inputs taxed higher, when we export 80% of our product to the US, puts us at a competitive disadvantage. And we're looking to have this pass unamended. So we can be on the same playing field as our partners in the US."
Hessel Kielstra a broiler poultry operator from Okotoks also commented on the impact of the carbon tax in his own operation.
"This bill is really important to us that it passes unamended because by the time it's 2030, it's going to cost us $480,000 a year and that's unaffordable. It has to be passed on to consumers, but as we all know, you can't pass all things on. So a lot of farmers will fail because you won't be able to do it economically. So it's very important for us that this bill is passed. The peculiar thing for us is there's always unintended consequences. So even if you go by the spirit of trying to reduce carbon, if we start reducing our usage of natural gas, we will probably be charged with animal cruelty, because our baby chicks will die. Those are the types of unintended consequences that people don't always realize. So we really hope that the bill passes later today."
Barlow also talked about a dairy farmer from BC who called him in tears because she was going to lose her farm to bankruptcy by Christmas as her input costs and interest rates have quadrupled.
"Her carbon tax has more than doubled over the last year and it's just no longer financially viable for her to hang on to the family dairy farm. And she's one of many of those stories that we have heard. And I know that the Liberal Environment Minister is saying well 97 per cent of carbon taxes already covered. I don't know where the Environment Minister is getting this number because it is a complete falsehood that 97 per cent of the carbon taxes farmers are paying are covered. That is just simply not true. You've heard the stories where farmers are paying 10's of 1000's and in many cases hundreds of 1000's of dollars a year in carbon taxes and not getting anything back that is revenue neutral."
Barlow says Conservatives will not let the Liberals kill this bill today and hide from their responsibility.
"Bill C-234 will save farmers close to a billion dollars by 2030. Again, this is much-needed financial relief for farmers who are already drowning in carbon taxes, input costs, and higher interest rates."
He noted that we are seeing farmers rally across the country this week, rallies in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, and Atlantic Canada.
"Our farmers are asking Senators to do the right thing and pass Bill C 234 in its original form, so farmers have a more affordable livelihood and Canadians have more affordable food to put on their tables."