Explaining KAP's position on carbon pricing
By Dan Mazier
A carbon tax is coming – that has been made perfectly clear by the federal government. However, instead of waiting for a tax to be placed on us by Ottawa, the Manitoba government has opted to develop a made-in-Manitoba solution – something that’s in the works now.
During this development process, KAP is striving to get the best deal for Manitoba farmers. We’re calling on the province for an exemption on carbon emissions from the production of crops and livestock. This would mean a carbon tax exemption on fuel used to grow and harvest crops, emissions that come from the application of fertilizer, animal emissions, and manure-storage emissions.
Some farmers are wondering why KAP doesn’t take the same stand as they think Saskatchewan has done, by just saying “no” to any taxation. However, it’s not as black and white as that.
Saskatchewan relies heavily on coal to produce electricity, and has invested in a new high-tech, coal-burning power plant to capture and store the carbon produced by the plant – at a cost of $900 million. This cost is being passed onto SaskPower rate payers.
Saskatchewan’s plan won’t work for Manitoba because our province uses low-carbon-emitting hydroelectricity. Therefore, another option is needed to protect Manitoba farmers from excessive carbon taxation.
KAP shares farmers’ concerns that the purchase prices of inputs such as fertilizer have the potential to increase because the companies that produce these inputs will be taxed – and that tax will be passed onto farmers.
KAP wants to keep production costs as low as possible in this new reality, and we believe exempting production emissions is the best way that it can be done, so that farmers aren’t taxed twice – at the buying end and at the production end.
We also believe that it’s better to be at the table and design the best possible outcome, instead of insisting there be no carbon tax – and being shut out of the process all together.
This position was arrived at by KAP members. Discussions took place at district meetings. As well, there was an online process for members to provide their views, and we held a webinar for producers to express their opinions.
At the end of these consultations, a resolution was put forward and passed at KAP’s fall advisory council meeting by the delegates who represent every district across the province. By following through on it, KAP is taking direction from our members, something we have always done and continue to do.
The resolution also called for a portion of the tax collected from other emitters, such as input suppliers, to be recycled back into the industry – in the form of research and programs that will help producers sequester carbon and be compensated for the ecological goods and services they provide to the public.
Additionally, KAP is asking that this money be put into research to help producers mitigate the effects of climate change – the biggest challenge, in my opinion, that farmers face today. New crop varieties that will tolerate weather extremes, new land management practices, and innovative livestock production practices all need to be explored.
I stress again that a carbon tax is coming whether we like it or not, and stubborn opposition will not work. We must approach this as an opportunity to create a solution that works for farmers.
Dan Mazier is president of Keystone Agricultural Producers. He produces grains and oilseeds near Justice, Manitoba.