Dec. 6, 2023 (Ottawa, ON) – The Agriculture Carbon Alliance (ACA) expresses profound disappointment following the Senate’s recent adoption of a previously rejected amendment to Bill C-234, an Act to Amend the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act.
After weeks of procedural delays, marked by the re-introduction of amendments that were already debated and defeated and repeated adjournments, Senators voted 40-39 in favour of an amendment previously rejected by both the House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food as well as the whole Senate at report stage.
“While the Senate is supposed to be the chamber for sober second thought, Canadian farmers are bearing the brunt of political delays driven by partisan interests,” says Dave Carey, co-chair of ACA. “The reintroduction of a previously defeated amendment weeks later is unprecedented. Seeing this outcome at such a late stage is profoundly disappointing.”
The narrowly passed amendment effectively restricts the exemption to grain drying, removing the proposed exemption for heating barns, greenhouses and structures used to grow food. This means that hundreds of thousands of farmers, growers and ranchers will be left behind and won’t receive much-needed financial relief at a time when they need it most.
ACA is also very disappointed that several supportive Senators were not in the chamber to vote against what amounts to a procedural amendment.
Bill C-234 seeks crucial exemptions from carbon pricing for propane and natural gas, vital for grain drying and heating due to the lack of viable fuel alternatives. Scalable and accessible technology that could offer alternatives is still years away. In the absence of such solutions, carbon pricing worsens financial strain and steers capital away from crucial efficiency investments.
“If the government is truly concerned about supporting a sustainable Canadian food system that people can count on, then they need to enact practical policies that benefit all Canadians,” adds Scott Ross, co-chair of ACA. “Farmers are seeing historic levels of debt and costs that continue to rise. Expecting producers to pay tens of thousands of dollars in carbon pricing annually will only delay investments in sustainability while waiting for technology to catch up. This is not a workable solution.”
Bill C-234 passed the House of Commons in March with support from all Conservative, New Democrat, Bloc and Green MPs, along with a few Liberals. In the prior Parliament, MP Phillip Lawrence’s Private Members’ Bill C-206 and retired Senator Dianne Griffin’s S-215 aimed to secure natural gas and propane exemptions under the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act for farming activities. Bill C-206 made it to the Senate but died on the Order Paper when the 2021 general election was called.
“Members of Parliament face a critical opportunity to not only support farmers and ranchers but rural communities and food affordability,” emphasizes Carey. “We urge them to stand by their decision and prioritize the best interests of all Canadians by maintaining the bill in its original form and passing it without further delays.”
The amended bill will now be voted on at third reading. If passed the legislation returns to the House of Commons, where its fate remains uncertain. The ACA urges all members of Parliament to swiftly restore the bill to its original form, as passed by the House.
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ACA is a national coalition of 16 farm organizations committed to meaningful and collaborative dialogue with the federal government around carbon pricing. Our membership encompasses all major agriculture commodities and represents 190,000 farm businesses that steward 62 million hectares. Canada’s farmers are the heart of our agri-food value chain, which contributes $135 billion annually and provides one in nine Canadian jobs.
Our members include Canadian Canola Growers Association, Canadian Federation of Agriculture, Canadian Cattle Association, Grain Growers of Canada, Canadian Pork Council, Chicken Farmers of Canada, Turkey Farmers of Canada, Fruit and Vegetable Growers of Canada, Canadian Hatching Egg Producers, Canadian Forage and Grassland Association, the National Sheep Network, National Cattle Feeders’ Association, Dairy Farmers of Canada, Canadian Seed Growers’ Association, Mushrooms Canada and Canadian Nursery Landscape Association.