Agriculture ministers from several provinces say they're concerned about the federal government's plan to reduce fertilizer emissions in the name of climate change at a time when global food security is an issue.
“The Trudeau government has apparently moved on from their attack on the oil and gas industry and set their sights on Saskatchewan farmers.”
The statement was issued shortly before Marit and Horner appeared at a press conference along with federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie Claude Bibeau and other ministers.
Bibeau said the targets are about reducing the emissions caused by fertilizers, not the use of fertilizers themselves.
“The idea is to invest in research and innovation, and we’re sure that we will find new types of fertilizer through better practices, through new technologies—ways to be even more sustainable,” she said.
Farmers 'Asked to do More With Less'The plan doesn’t sit well with Horner, who criticized the Liberals for pushing their fertilizer targets at a time when the world is facing food supply issues.
“This has been the most expensive crop anyone has put in, following a very difficult year on the prairies,” he said in the statement.
“The world is looking for Canada to increase production and be a solution to global food shortages. The Federal government needs to display that they understand this. They owe it to our producers.”
The statement noted that farmers in Western Canada "already produce the most sustainable agri-food products in the world, and they're continually being asked to do more with less. We cannot feed the growing world population with a reduction in fertilizer."
Bibeau claimed that farmers are embracing the Liberals’ plans.
“I was in Alberta, and Manitoba and Saskatchewan in the last 10 days or so, and I’m meeting with many farmers in the field. I know how much they care for the environment and how much they invest in new practices and new technologies to reduce their emissions as much as possible,” she said.
According to the joint statement, fertilizer emissions reduction was not even a topic on the agenda of the agriculture ministers' meeting in Saskatoon.
“Provinces pushed the federal government to discuss this important topic, but were disappointed to learn that the target is already set,” the statement said.
“The commitment to future consultations are only to determine how to meet the target that Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Bibeau have already unilaterally imposed on this industry, not to consult on what is achievable or attainable.”
‘Short-Sighted' ApproachFertilizer sector and farm producer groups have argued that, with the technologies currently available, a reduction of nitrous oxide emissions can’t be done without reducing fertilizer use.
“It is estimated that a 30 [percent] absolute emission reduction for a farmer with 1000 acres of canola and 1000 acres of wheat, stands to have their profit reduced by approximately $38,000 - $40,500/ annually,” the report said.
In Western Canada, that means canola revenues would be reduced by up to $441 million while wheat revenues could see a reduction of $400 million, it estimated.