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Agriculture Must be a Priority

[:en]It should come as no surprise to anyone that the current government has demonstrated very little interest in Canada’s agriculture sector.
When I talk to farmers, there is a consistent refrain: This Liberal Government has made life more expensive and made it more difficult for Canadian farmers to put food on the tables of Canadian families.
The recent war in Ukraine, the collapse of global supply chains, and the current Liberal inflation have shone a light on just how important food security is, and how much we take it for granted—how vital it is for Ottawa to make agriculture a priority.
I wrote, recently, on the need for the government to ensure food security for Canadians.
Other countries are already seeing food crises come their way.
Many developing nations, which rely on Ukrainian grain for survival, are struggling to find food.
In the Netherlands, there have been mass protests for two years against government policies that hurt farmers—something we could easily see happen here if this government continues to ignore farmers.
There are some simple, commonsense steps the government could take to ease the burden on farmers and, by extension, lower the cost of food for Canadian families.
The first is an obvious one—though, sadly, not to Mr. Trudeau and his team—and that is listen to farmers.
Hard as it may be for this government to believe, farmers better understand their own needs than bureaucrats in Ottawa. Rather than ignore farmers, the government should be listening.
When I’m out and about in the riding, or in my capacity as a member of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agrifoods, here is what I’m hearing from farmers:
One: Get rid of the carbon tax or, at the very least, provide a full exemption for farm fuels.
The Liberal carbon tax doesn’t just take more money out of farmers’ pockets–and it does (exponentially more so than the paltry rebate the government’s ineffectual and deluded climate plan provides). It also puts Canadian farmers at a significant disadvantage on the global market and (in some cases) makes the cost of farming prohibitive. The average farmer is paying between $10,000-14,000 more per year, just in carbon tax (and it keeps going up). My Conservative colleague Ben Lobb has introduced a bill to exempt farm fuels from the carbon tax. It has support from all opposition parties. The government should fast-track this bill to ensure farmers can afford to stay in business.
Two: Exempt farmers from sanctions against Russian fertilizer.
Here’s another one farmers and Conservatives have been calling for. While we strongly support sanctions against Russia, we also cautioned that the government needed to take the effects of those sanctions on Canadian businesses into account. They failed to do so. One area of particular concern is fertilizer. Roughly 90% of the fertilizer used by farmers in Eastern Canada is imported from Russia. Many had ordered this year’s fertilizer prior to the outbreak of war and now face a 35% tariff. Canada is the only G7 country to put tariffs on Russian fertilizer, once again, putting Canada’s agriculture sector at a competitive disadvantage and driving up the cost of doing business for farmers. Though they have announced they have no plans to do so, the government should exempt farmers from this tariff.
Three: Work to tamp down inflation.
The government’s economic policies have led to massive inflation at record rates. Farmers and farm families are not exempt from these price increases. When the price of growing/raising, processing, and transporting food goes up, so does the price at the grocery store. Here too the government’s carbon tax only serves to exacerbate the situation. This government must take responsibility for their failures, change course, and take concrete steps to address inflation.
Four: Fully re-open the Canada-US border.
Many farmers in the south cross regularly into the US to purchase machine parts, livestock, and supplies that are either unavailable in their communities or just too expensive with all the taxes this government has levied. Having to fill out the ArriveCan app, test, or, for those who have chosen not to be vaccinated, travel long distances to buy on the Canadian side does not make sense and is not sustainable for many farmers.
By taking these four simple steps, the government could make a huge difference for farmers and, by extension, Canadian families who rely on the food they produce.
Canada’s Conservatives understand the plight of farmers.
We’re connected to rural Canadians.
We’re listening.
We will continue to stand up for farmers and propose commonsense legislation to protect farmers and make life more affordable for Canadian families.