This planting season, our farmers need relief and stability — not more taxes

Leslyn Lewis, Member of Parliament for Haldimand-Norfolk

APRIL 28, 2022

Our farmers and our agricultural sector are essential to our prosperity, but looking at the government’s recent actions and policies makes you think they either don’t know or don’t care. Either way, our farmers are paying the price, and Canadians are seeing their grocery bills skyrocket.

Spring season is planting season. For most crop farmers, the soil fertilizers they use during this season, whether it’s nitrogen, phosphorus or potassium, will determine the strength and yield of the crops they harvest in the fall.

For months, global supply issues, pressure from increased demand, and a sharp spike in natural gas, have sent the price of fertilizer skyrocketing. Well before Russia invaded Ukraine, experts across the country and around the world were warning of potential food supply issues at a global scale. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has raised the stakes even higher.

Of course, the world and Canada rightly responded with harsh economic sanctions against Russia. However, when the Liberals announced on March 2nd a sweeping 35% tariff on imported Russian goods – on the eve of the Spring planting season – many of our farmers and suppliers were left scrambling to understand what this meant for the Russian-sourced fertilizer they already purchased.

The obvious question has been asked for weeks: Will the government exempt Russian fertilizer – already bought and paid for – from the tariff, when it would only hurt Canada’s farmers? No answer yet.

It’s not right that our farmers have been left in limbo for weeks during this critical and narrow window. Without this exemption, the tariff on Russian fertilizer increases the price by hundreds of dollars per tonne. With the already sky-high prices they’re paying and the inflation on feed and fuel, for some farmers, the costs threaten to outgrow profit.

The result? Production goes down.

Fertilizer suppliers and agricultural industry groups, such as the Grain Farmers of Ontario, are calling the situation “dire” and the potential impacts “drastic”.

Haldimand-Norfolk farms are the envy of the region. As one of Canada’s most agriculturally diverse regions, if it grows in Canada, there is a good chance we grow it here. Our farmers are top producers, innovators, leaders in the field, and have been feeding Ontario for generations. I’ve seen firsthand what our region produces, and I’ve only grown in my appreciation of our farmers, knowing just how hard they work and how essential they are.

Unfortunately, Canadian farmers have been hit hard by this Liberal government’s failed policies. With the recent carbon tax hike, coupled with out-of-control inflation, and the uncertainty around how the Liberals will cut fertilizer emissions by 30%, what’s needed is relief and stability – not more taxes that line government coffers on the backs of our hard-working farmers.

Canada’s agricultural products are also more in demand than ever. According to Fertilizer Canada, we provide 12% of the world’s fertilizer supply, and we are the world’s largest exporter of potash. Canada has the resources, the ingenuity, and the technology to drive up production. Now is the time to invest in that potential. We can secure our own supply while meeting the world’s needs. But first, let’s just give farmers the certainty they need for this growing season. They’re depending on it, and we’re depending on them.