Trade minister says carbon tax poses challenge to Ag growth

By Glenn Hicks
January 8, 2019 - 12:00pm

Saskatchewan's Minister of Trade and Export Development says the federal government wants to impose a carbon tax at a time when the agricultural sector is showing growth and should be getting a credit for its carbon-reduction efficiencies.

Speaking to paNOW, Jeremy Harrison said while there were month-on-month gains in agricultural jobs in Stats Canada’s latest report, especially in the North, Ottawa poses an ongoing challenge to the viability of the sector.

Harrison lauded the 11,000 additional full-time jobs for Saskatchewan from December 2017 to December 2018, thanks largely to an increase in the agricultural sector, but said the Liberal government threatened the resurgence in the industry.

“We have ag producers who are going to be paying a significant carbon tax that’s going to be going up for the next five years if it’s up to Justin Trudeau and that’s something we’re fighting hard,” Harrison said.

“Agriculture is a net carbon neutral industry, a huge sink in terms of the advances we’ve made with zero-till farming and all of these other technological advances,” Harrison said. “They’ve made agriculture if not carbon neutral, then carbon negative.”

The province will take the matter to court next month as they contest the federal government does not have the right to impose their carbon tax as Saskatchewan works to implement its own carbon reduction strategies. But Ottawa contests Prime Minister Justin Trudeau got elected on the promise of a tax on pollution and it’s a matter of national interest.

According to federal government estimates, the average cost of the carbon tax per household will be $403 in 2019 rising to $946 by 2022. However, it said the rebate cheques given to households will be bigger than the cost — $598 for the first year and escalating to $1,419 by 2022. Roughly $1.45 billion will go to small businesses and affected sectors over the five year period. The federal fuel charge is expected to add around 4.4 cents onto the cost of a litre of gasoline this year.

However, Harrison said “the significant carbon tax will directly impact agricultural producers who will have to fill up their tractors and do all sorts of things that will very much be impacted by the tax.”

Speaking to the good news of the uptick in jobs in the sector Harrison said the province’s agricultural producers “are the most efficient in Canada. We know that to be statistically true.”

It remains to be seen what impact the tax may have on the sector’s bottom line and how the legal argument plays out.

On Twitter:@princealbertnow

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