moved that Bill , be read the second time and referred to a committee.
He said: Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise today on this bill. Through the years I have had the honour and privilege of presenting private member's bills and motions. I had one pass many years ago, and I had one or two that did not pass.
First of all, I would like to thank the member of Parliament for and the member of Parliament for who presented Bill in the last Parliament. I would also thank the member for and all of the other members of Parliament in my party and caucus who have a deep love and admiration for agriculture and the farm families that do the work each and every day.
The issue that I am trying to fix with this private member's bill is the application of the carbon tax on natural gas and propane. It is for on-farm agriculture uses to dry grain and heat livestock barns where there may be a variety of livestock, but mainly poultry and pork in these cases. The problem is with the current carbon tax on these areas. I will give one example of a pork farmer in my riding who sent me his December usage of natural gas. The natural gas bill for his hog barn was $11,391 in total. The carbon tax was $2,918, which is 25% of the base bill. When we throw the HST on, which is almost $1,500, 34% of the bill is in carbon tax and HST. That is really the problem.
There are tight margins in agriculture and, when we get into the drying of grains in the fall, these are foods that we eat. Farmers are price-takers; they are not price-makers. They do not set the price; they take the price. Anybody in the House or those listening today well understand the issue with that. On the flip side, when it is time to pay for inputs, machinery, etc., we obviously know the price. There are a lot of improvements we could make.
One of my other issues with the carbon tax specifically on farmers, which I have said in the House of Commons before, is that farm producers and farmers do not get credit for any of the environmental good that they do on their farms up and down the country roads. If we look at what farmers are able to do on their farms, first of all, they get no credit for any of the carbon sequestration of their crops. They get no credit for their grasslands or woodlots. There is no credit for that.
We are trying to right an environmental wrong and a taxation wrong to make it fair for farmers. It is very difficult to recognize all of the different ways in which farmers do good. Putting a carbon tax on their efforts does not really recognize the environmental benefit they have. Many members of Parliament in the House today have had the opportunity to tour many farms, conservation areas and livestock barns, and they see the good work that they do.
Another issue that is recognized in this bill is that farmers are always asked to be the government's line of credit. People may ask what that means. What I mean by this is that, if we look at the business risk management programs available to farmers, AgriStability being one of them, if they were able to trigger a payment with AgriStability, their expenses are incurred so much earlier. Farmers carry the cost and at the end they receive. It is the same with HST. There have been issues through the years with certain producers where their HST was hung up, so that they are the line of credit in some cases. It was three months, four months, six months, maybe even a year before they would get their HST rebate.
Now we have another program that is going to create a level of bureaucracy. We have a program that is once again going to ask the farmer to be the line of credit. To give an example, farmers could pay a propane or natural gas bill on their poultry or hog barn in January and February of 2022 and that almost $3,000 in carbon tax they paid on their bill could be carried all the way through the year. They could dry their grains in September, October or November, depending on how the harvest went, and then carry all of those costs all through the entire year and file their taxes, depending on when their fiscal year end is, in June of 2023. When do members think those farmers would receive their rebate?
That is a long time to be once again asking farm producers or farm families to carry these expenses. Then we also calculate the increasing costs of all the inputs, whether feed for livestock or fertilizer. We have seen the crazy prices. Their lines of credit are continually edging up and now they are faced with doing this.
According to Bill , in the fall update on page 83, the rebate is $1.73. When I read that I thought it was per hundred dollars of eligible expenses, but it is actually per thousand dollars of eligible expenses. Therefore, if farmers have a million dollars in eligible expenses on their farms, they would not even receive a $1,800 rebate.
For the farm I spoke about a second ago, one bill was almost $3,000, so it is not neutral. It will not be neutral. If there are statistics to show otherwise, I would like to see them, but based on page 83 of this statement, it does not look like it. A month or two ago, the member for showed me a bill for a farmer in his province, and it might have been in his riding, I cannot remember, that was twice that amount. Can members imagine $5,500 being paid in carbon tax for one month? Therefore, $1,700 is not going to cut it.
We have talked about carbon sequestration through their crops, grasslands and woodlots. Farmers plant trees on their farms. They have windrows. In Ontario, and I am sure in many other provinces, we have nutrient management plans for how and when manure is spread across their fields. With technology we have precision spraying of herbicides and pesticides, and even precision fertilizing. This is not our great-grandfather's farms. These are very progressive farms across this country today with a high degree of professionalism and a love for agriculture and the environment.
If we take a woodlot in Huron County or Bruce County, we will see some of the best-managed woodlots in all the land. That is over the last 10 years when we have been dealing with the emerald ash borer on our ash trees. Most of those have been cleared out of woodlots and maple and other trees have come up in their place, but these are well-maintained woodlots that sequester carbon.
The other thing I would like to mention is crop rotation. I know the member for brought it up in question period today and the made a comment the other day in question period about it, as if it was some sort of new idea. I am sure she misspoke in question period, but we can go back to textbooks from probably the twenties and thirties talking about crop rotation and crop cover. Most of the farmers in my area plant late summer and early fall crops as well for cover crops. There is quite a bit that goes on.
The other thing I would like to recognize is all the conservation authorities and environmental groups in our communities. One that is not too far from where I live is the Pine River Watershed Initiative Network, which plants trees and manages water on farms. There are also crop and soil groups in Huron County, Bruce County and Grey County, all the way through the area, doing some amazing research on drainage and being able to hold some of those spring rains and thaws, hold some of that water, back in the drain itself. It is a very exciting technology.
Another thing I would like to talk about is our food sovereignty. We have seen a lot of this in the last number of years, maybe perhaps most recently in the past little while. In Ontario, we ship hogs, for example, to Burlington and other places like Conestoga. We also ship hogs to Quebec. We actually ship hogs to Manitoba as well, to Brandon. Although it is good for them to have those hogs in the production line, it makes no sense at all for farmers in southwestern Ontario to ship hogs in transport trucks across the provinces to their destination. We should be able to process them in our own regions. For that, I would say that I do think the government needs to take a real long look at food sovereignty in each province and, of course, in our country, as well as identifying strategic mines or opportunities.
Phosphates are a great example, with the latest embargo and tariffs from Russia, of where there are opportunities in our own country to speed up environmental assessments. Do it right but make sure they are streamlined so that we can mine our own goods and raw materials in our own country to support the entire cycle of agriculture in our country. Today we do not have that and I do think that should be a priority.
How much money does it take to make one dollar on a farm? It takes millions, and the margins are tight. People may drive up and down the road if they are going to their cottage or wherever else they are going on a weekend and the might look at how nice the farm looks from the truck they are driving. The reality is that it took multiple generations working seven days a week, 365 days a year, for margins that would put fear into most people. If they knew how much capital investment, debt and line of credit was at risk each and every day to earn a few dollars on $100, they would be so impressed.
The reason I am saying this is that the carbon tax is punitive even for the existence of a farm operation. I have numerous calls in a week from different farmers commenting on the cost of doing business in 2022. Yes, if one were to look at the spot prices or futures prices for soybeans, corn, wheat or any of those, it does look pretty amazing. Unfortunately, for farmers, costs have gone in lockstep. In some cases, they have actually increased at a higher rate.
Where can we help them? We can help them with the carbon tax. We can help them by cutting the carbon tax and eliminating the carbon tax on farms. It does not get recycled. The carbon tax that they collect on farmers does not all go back to farmers. It does not go back into some environmental farm plan. It does not. They may say that it goes in dollar for dollar, but it does not.
The quickest and most efficient way to help agriculture and to recognize the environmental benefit the industry provides the country, without creating a bureaucracy and without hiring consultants to walk the farm, go through the woodlot and come up with an idea of how much was actually sequestered, is to cut it off right at the source. Do not make the farmer be the line of credit for the government on one more program. Do not tell them it is going to be neutral when we know it is $1.73 per thousand dollars. Let us not do that.
There are certain industries, I am sure, in Canada that do not provide a whole lot of environmental benefit to the country. Farming is not one of them. It is an organization with the most grassroots, environmental preservation organizations someone will ever see. If one were to go to a Ducks Unlimited auction or a conservation authority fundraiser, who would be there? It is the townspeople, for sure, but it is also the farmers. The farmers come out. In some cases, it is the conservation authority that gives them a hard time, but they are still out there to support the cause because they understand the relationship between productive land and the environment.
I really enjoyed the debate today. It is an honour to do this. I look forward to having discussions, hearing what the other parties have to say and what their thoughts are, and hopefully, with their good will, seeing it in committee.
I am thankful for the opportunity today and I look forward to the questions.
Madam Speaker, right up front, I acknowledge what our farming and rural communities have done over generations in elevating Canada as a nation to where we are today. I have had many different experiences and will provide some comments on that, but I will start off by thanking our farmers and those who contribute to our farming communities.
It is important for us to recognize that the most effective and efficient way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is in fact by putting a price on pollution. This is not only believed by the Government of Canada. Governments around the world, provincial governments and individuals in virtually all political parties in Canada, at least elected political parties, have recognized the true value of a price on pollution.
Earlier today, I posed a question to some of my Conservative friends, when they were talking about the price on pollution, on where the Conservative Party might stand. I did not hear the member indicate that he was in opposition to the need for a price on pollution. I do believe there are a number of Conservative members who understand and value it. In fact, in the last federal election, as we saw in the Conservative Party campaign, part of its platform was to incorporate a price on pollution. It will be very interesting to see how the Conservatives move forward on that particular policy.
I can look at this in terms of the communities in Manitoba, an area that I am very passionate about. I have seen the valuable contributions that its agricultural communities and the whole sector have made to our province, Canada and the world. I would like to provide some personal examples of that.
Driving along Highway 2 in the evening, we can see a number of combines harvesting food to feed the world. It looks pretty impressive at night seeing the assembly of these combines and the trucks lined up to receive the grain. When we look at the way Manitoba has led the world with regard to the development of canola and the impact that has had, we see the technology there and the sensitivity to our environment, which has always been there, by our farming community. We have seen that in the ways that farming has changed over the years. I can remember as a 14-year-old, which is a number of years back, running a four-wheel John Deere tractor, pulling a cultivator and going through a field. More recently, last summer, I was on a farmer's field where they are raising cattle, in between visiting dairy farms and getting a better understanding of an industry that I often talk about.
If we do a history of some of the speeches I have given in the House, I often talk about Manitoba's hog industry and the role it plays in the province of Manitoba. We have an industry that is very much alive and doing exceptionably well, and it is growing.
We have stakeholders such as Peak of the Market. It collects vegetables and other things, promotes Manitoba-grown products and markets them not only to the province of Manitoba, but to the world.
We have seen the benefits of it. When someone thinks of a hog farm, we do not necessarily believe the first room we will go into will be a room in which we get ourselves cleaned up and put on a smock and then walk into a computer room, where, through technology, we get a better appreciation of how hogs are raised on the local farm nowadays and on some of those large hog plants.
It is very impressive, and it is the farmer who tells us what he is doing to ensure he has a positive attitude toward the manure generated by the hogs and how it is being used, as much as possible, in a responsible fashion.
If we go north of Winnipeg to the Gimli area, we will see the cattle farmers. Again regarding the issue of the environment, just last summer we were talking about the issue of drought and realizing that climate change is real.
When I took a tour of that particular farm, one could be very sympathetic to the needs of our farmers.
In fact, a week or maybe 10 days later, the went to visit the very same farm because, when we think of Peak of the Market, there are many different stakeholders that are out there.
The Canadian Cattlemen's Association provided me with the opportunity to take a tour of that particular facility, and I indicated to Robyn that I would like to be able to get an even more comprehensive understanding of that industry, as I have of the chicken processing industry, from the way in which eggs are hatched to the filling of a barn to the processing at a plant.
I am absolutely fascinated by the way in which Manitoba farmers, in particular, have taken on the responsibility of society to be there to feed the world.
Within the Liberal government caucus, we have a rural caucus. We have individuals who talk about farms and agriculture daily. It is not only an issue of being sympathetic to farmers. It also means being there for farmers in real and tangible ways, as I have been, with ministers of agriculture on a couple of occasions in the province. We have taken tours or participated in gaining more knowledge about this industry that is so critically important to all of us.
I am very proud of the fact that the University of Manitoba has a department of agriculture. It is not the only post-secondary facility to do so, but I highlight this one because I know the fine work it does.
When we talk about canola and the development of canola, there is so much we can all move forward to. We can say that, as a government, we are sensitive to it and we will continue to look at ways in which our policies will not harm farmers but rather will support them.
Madam Speaker, as the member for a riding where agriculture plays a key role in the economy, I am pleased to rise this afternoon to speak to Bill .
I want to begin by saying that the Bloc Québécois supports the principle of this bill. Even though we do not really agree with the idea of undermining the carbon tax, there is no question that farmers play an important social role and that we all depend on their work. I can confirm that, given how important agri-food, agri-tourism and buying local are to Quebec's economy and more specifically that of the riding of Shefford.
That being said, I want to talk about three things in my speech. First, I will provide some background about this bill. Then, I will talk about the situation in Quebec, and finally, I will close by talking about the important role farmers play in the fight against greenhouse gas emissions.
To begin with, I will give a little bit of background. Bill seeks to amend the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, which is commonly known as the “federal carbon tax” or the “carbon tax”. It is true that exempting some farming fuels that are essential for crop and livestock production from the carbon tax seems fair to us, given that the alternatives are still very expensive. Take grain dryers, for example.
Members should know that the carbon tax act provides for the general application of a fuel charge, which is paid to the government by the distributor upon delivery. There are already certain criteria for cases where the charge is not payable, including when the fuel is being sold to a farmer and is a qualifying farming fuel, which is defined under section 3 of the act as gasoline, light fuel oil or a prescribed type of fuel.
The bill essentially proposes three things. First, it expands the definition of eligible farming machinery to include heating equipment, in particular for buildings used for housing livestock.
Second, it clarifies that the definition of eligible farming machinery includes grain dryers. Most grain dryers run on propane, which represents a huge cost.
Third, it extends the carbon tax exemption for qualifying farming fuel to marketable natural gas and propane. The qualifying types of fuel are therefore gasoline, light fuel oil, marketable natural gas, propane or a prescribed type of fuel.
We cannot forget that the carbon tax is Canada's chosen method to fight climate change. The preamble of the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act explains that one of the justifications for the act is the fact that some provinces have not developed and implemented greenhouse gas emissions pricing systems. In 2016, the provinces were given a choice between maintaining or creating a pollution pricing system that would have to meet the federal standard.
Quebec's carbon market does not include the agriculture sector. Quebec also has a fuel tax, but this tax is refunded to fishers and farmers.
Quebec implemented its own carbon tax system in 2013, the Quebec carbon market, which is a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emission allowances. I will sum it up quickly by saying that Quebec's carbon market meets the federal standard and is primarily designed for industry, electricity producers and importers, and distributors of fossil fuels. It does not apply to the agriculture sector, and businesses can voluntarily register to participate in the carbon market.
Outside of the carbon market and the carbon tax, Quebec and Canada have various fuel taxes, including the federal excise tax on gasoline, the Quebec fuel tax, and the greater Montreal area gas tax. Furthermore, the GST and QST are applied to the sub-total after the calculation of other taxes. In those provinces where it is applied, the federal fuel charge is added to other taxes on fuel. In Quebec, farmers are entitled to a refund of fuel taxes, which applies to the Quebec tax.
I have provided the context for this bill. I would now like to talk about the fair transition and the importance of agriculture in making this green shift.
The Bloc Québécois supports the principle of a just transition. This means that we recognize that it would be unfair to expect workers and their families, as well as farmers, to make this transition happen overnight, especially since they are the first victims of the crisis in the energy sector and of the challenges associated with climate change.
Furthermore, even though farm fuels contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, emissions from the agricultural sector are caused primarily by livestock herds and the use of fertilizer. This does not in any way—on the contrary—prevent us from continuing to search for solutions that would reduce the energy used by grain dryers. In the short and medium term, significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in Canada must come from the oil and gas production sector, the production of coal-fired electricity and motor vehicle transportation.
The western provinces are largely responsible for Canada's increasing greenhouse gas emissions. We have known since 1990 that they need to make drastic changes to their economy and their energy infrastructure. The post-pandemic economic recovery, which is necessary, is a perfect opportunity to do that. If they head in that direction, which they must, the Bloc Québécois will be happy to show solidarity and support measures that provide relief to those for whom the transition is a real economic challenge: workers in polluting sectors, farmers and families.
This method releases greenhouse gases, but that needs to be put in context along with other Canadian greenhouse gas sources, the type of climate and available alternatives. Weather and climate affect agricultural costs of production. The fact that the charge applies to farm fuels significantly compounds that phenomenon. If alternative solutions are available, the charge must be applied so that farmers improve their methods and opt for cleaner technology. This is an issue, a dynamic, that deserves our attention as parliamentarians.
The goal of climate policy should be to adapt to the effects of climate change, since the consequences of extreme weather events affect us all. A tool like the carbon tax is meant to act as an incentive to change behaviour, in other words to encourage the transition to clean technologies and renewable energy in order to reduce emissions.
As I pointed out earlier in a question, it is quite likely that applying the fuel charge to farming businesses may not be so effective if it does not push farmers to reduce their carbon footprint. This issue also warrants closer study.
Under the Paris Agreement, Canada committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030, to a total of 513 megatonnes of CO2 equivalent. The Government of Canada has since revised its 2030 target upwards to a range of between 40% and 45% below 2005 levels.
Canada's emissions have increased by over 20% since 1990. Greenhouse gas emissions associated with Canada's agriculture sector increased 28% between 1990 and 2017, but have stabilized since 2005. Canada's agricultural economic sector emitted a total of 72 megatonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2005.
In 2018, emissions from Canada's agriculture industry accounted for 59 megatonnes of greenhouse gases, or 8.1% of Canada's total GHG emissions. That is the figure and it is not that big. However, GHG emissions from on-farm fuel combustion were included in the total for the energy sector, while emissions related to farming fuels were grouped with emissions from the forestry and fishing industries in the “other sectors” subcategory.
The calculations are complicated, but to summarize, stationary combustion sources in the agriculture and forestry industries for all of Canada accounted for 3.8 megatonnes in 2018. That is a large number, and efforts will have to be made to reduce the impact of agriculture and farming fuels on total GHG emissions.
However, there is more near-term potential for reducing GHG emissions in the oil and gas, electricity generation and transportation sectors. The sector-based GHG emission structure varies significantly from province to province, particularly depending on the method of electricity generation.
Historically, the provinces of Alberta and Ontario have been the biggest GHG emitters. In Quebec, agriculture accounts for 9.8% of emissions. By way of comparison, Quebec's transportation sector represents 43.3% of Quebec's emissions, while the electricity generation sector accounts for 0.3%.
Quebec's main climate challenge is road transportation, whereas the 18% increase in Alberta's GHG emissions between 2005 and 2017 was primarily due to oil and gas operations, which account for 50% of the province's total emissions.
In short, if we decide to spare farmers the burden of environmental taxes, the western provinces will have to engage in the energy transition, diversify their economies to gradually phase out oil and gas production, and stop producing coal-fired electricity.
All economic sectors must play a part in combatting climate change, but we must also assess how effective government GHG reduction policies are in relation to the effort they require from citizens, workers and businesses.
A just transition means taking environmental, social and economic objectives into account. The energy transition is not meant to come at the expense of workers or the most vulnerable. The challenge is to develop public policy approaches that allow us to move beyond seeing economy and ecology as mutually exclusive.
I know that Quebec farmers agree with this and would like to develop better practices. They have a key role to play in the solution.
In conclusion, I want to talk about the 2019 propane crisis, which was a big issue when I was first elected. My cellphone was quickly flooded with calls from farmers. As all members know, we must never allow such a situation to happen again. It presents far too many risks for our businesses, and we need to be acting on their behalf. We know that businesses are still too reliant on propane and natural gas for running various other types of machinery, such as grain dryers.
Madam Speaker, it is a great honour to rise to speak to Bill . I would like to acknowledge the member for , who is bringing forward this bill, which is a revival of what was called Bill in the 43rd Parliament. I would like to indicate that, as the New Democratic Party agriculture critic, I will be giving my support to the bill, demonstrating that we review every private member's bill that comes before us based on its merits and the principle behind it. I feel the principle behind this bill is sound.
I have been our party's agriculture critic for four years now. I have spent four years on the Standing Committee on Agriculture, and I am very familiar with the predecessor to this bill. I was present on the agriculture committee when we did a deep dive into the provisions of Bill . As I will reflect later in my speech, this is something that the agricultural community is most definitely calling for.
Before I get into that, it is important to set the table with regard to the difficulties that are being posed by climate change. The fact that human-caused climate change is occurring is no longer in dispute. It is very much a verifiable scientific fact, and many parts of the world are starting to face a climate emergency. It is one that will manifest itself in increasingly costly ways, not only to our natural environment, but also to our economy. We will see more extreme weather events, and it is our farmers who will suffer because, as I have heard time and time again at the agriculture committee, farmers are on the front lines of this fight.
This climate emergency is leading to changing precipitation patterns. We are seeing increased occurrences of catastrophic flooding and catastrophic droughts. These are going to have real economic costs. We saw that in my home province of British Columbia last year when, in the space of a few months, we went from a heat dome and massive wildfires to flooding that essentially cut the port of Vancouver off from the rest of the country. That led to major disruptions for our agricultural producers in the prairie provinces.
We as a country need to acknowledge this fact, and we need to put in place policy that is going to treat it like the serious matter that it is. It is the fight of the 21st century. Unfortunately, the continuing political fight that we have seen in this place over the carbon tax has ignored many of these realities and it has sidelined the leadership that we as a country need to take against climate change. However, what has been missing in this conversation is the important role that farmers and our agriculture sector do and can play in this conversation. That centres on the theme of carbon sequestration.
It is time for us to start placing our farmers up on a pedestal and acknowledging the important work they do. The only way we are going to meaningfully solve this climate change problem is if we significantly reduce the amount of carbon in our atmosphere and find ways to put it in the soil where it can play a stable role.
I have been inspired by so many in Canada's agriculture sector who are adopting regenerative farming practices. They are going beyond sustainability as a principle and are observing the patterns and principles in ecosystems to reduce their input and help purify the air, the water, rebuild the soil and increase diversity. In this way, our agricultural leaders are building resilience against climate change by tackling and overcoming challenges without being completely overwhelmed by them, and we must find ways as parliamentarians in this place to be strong and firm partners with those leaders.
In 2020, I took a trip to the interior of southern British Columbia where I talked with ranchers who had won sustainability awards. I do want to acknowledge the work of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association, which are showing the way by trying to replicate the natural ecosystem that used to exist on Canada's Prairies and that requires a symbiotic relationship between plants and animals through rotational grazing techniques, which actually leads to healthier grasslands, which in their own way are putting carbon back into the soil where we need to put it.
Despite the advances that we have made in good agricultural practices in the fight against climate change, it is still an inescapable fact that farmers today do depend on fossil fuels. This is especially true when it comes to the drying of grain.
Many of my colleagues here will remember the wet autumn of 2019, which was called the harvest from hell. That was extensive and prolonged rainfall that happened right before and during the harvest in many parts of Canada. Of course, the early snowfalls and frosts also ruined many crops. Farmers in those situations were forced to use propane and natural gas heaters to dry their grain. Without the use of those dryers, their cash crops would have become worthless because rot would have set in, and it would have been a massive economic hit.
As it stands, there are currently no viable commercial alternatives to the use of propane and natural gas for the operation of these dryers. This was explained very clearly to the agriculture committee in the previous Parliament. During that time, when we were examining Bill , we received eight briefs and had 29 witnesses over six meetings. In particular, I will highlight some of the testimony that we received from the Agri-Food Innovation Council.
The council acknowledged that we want to move to alternative and renewable energy sources. It also pointed out the fact that we are not yet at a point where farmers have those alternative options available. Many of the renewable or clean energy options are still in an experimental stage and they have nowhere near the scaling-up capability that farmers need to employ them on a mass scale. With that being said, there was also an acknowledgement that Ottawa can play a key role in helping develop further research into alternative, renewable and clean energy sources.
I also want to acknowledge that we had several witnesses come before the committee who expressed concern with Bill . However, again, when I pressed them on the fact that there were no viable alternatives, I did not, in my own opinion, hear a convincing argument to lead me to go the other way. There is a very real interest in trying to repeat the work that we did at the agriculture committee. Let us bring Bill there, so that we can again do a deep dive into it and find ways, hopefully, of making some slight improvements.
It does not need to be said in this place that the value of our agricultural crops out of the Prairies, especially with grains and canola, numbers in the billions of dollars and is an incredible economic driver in those regions. Those sectors need to have our support, especially when they are facing challenges and especially when no viable alternatives exist. It is a significant part of our economy as many of my colleagues will attest.
In the final couple of minutes with respect to Bill , I will say that the main thing it would do is make definitions as to what a qualifying farm fuel is and what eligible farming machinery is. With respect to a qualifying farm fuel, the bill would be making sure that natural gas and propane are provided in the list of fuels. With respect to eligible farming machinery, I think this is an improvement on the previous Bill . The bill is specifically making reference to grain drying but also making room for providing heating or cooling in a building. I will just highlight that this particular section might be too broad a definition, and it is something that I am interested in taking a closer look at in committee. That being said, there is some room for improvement and some room for negotiation on hopefully improving this bill and reporting it back to the House.
In conclusion, I hope that, in our conversation on Bill , we also take this opportunity to acknowledge the incredible costs that farmers are bearing. This has been detailed quite considerably by the National Farmers Union, which has recognized that Canadian farm debt is now listed at over $100 billion and has nearly doubled since the year 2000. Since 1990, the corporations that supply fertilizers, chemicals, machinery, fuels, technology services and credit have captured nearly all of farm revenues, leaving farmers with just 5% of the total revenue.
While I think that the measures in Bill are going to have a measurable impact, we also need to use this opportunity to have a broader conversation on how we support farmers and make sure that, in most of the work that they are doing, the financial rewards are in fact staying in their pockets.
Madam Speaker, I am certainly thankful for this opportunity to speak up for Canadian farmers. I want to thank my colleague, the member for , for carrying this private member's bill, Bill , which I am hoping we all will support today and moving forward. I want to build on what my colleague was speaking about in his presentation, but I want to change it a bit and focus my intervention on what the agriculture sector is already doing, what is has accomplished and how this bill can help.
It is simply a fact that our farmers and ranchers have demonstrated a proud history of environmental stewardship as innovators. This has all be done on the farm of their own volition without government intervention or someone telling them what to do. Canadian farmers have adopted practices, including conservation tillage, that have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than half a million tonnes per year. They have done that because it is the right thing to do. They have done that because it is more efficient.
Other sectors, such as the laying hen industry, have also reduced their energy usage by more than 40%, their water consumption by 70% and their land footprint by 80%. Our country was one of the first in the world to have an outcome-based, certified sustainable beef program. Again, it is not because the government instructed this to be done or because of government oversight and regulation. Canadian cattlemen did this because it was the right thing to do.
In the service of our land and environment, as a result of this program, our cattle ranchers now provide more than 68% of the wildlife habitat in Canada. This represents the protection of a key part of Canada's biodiversity. In fact, our Canadian grasslands are the most endangered ecosystem on the planet. I know that very few Canadians would really understand that or think it is the case, but our ranch families across the country are the ones protecting this very delicate ecosystem.
If members have not seen it, I would encourage everyone in the House to see the documentary Guardians of the Grasslands, which is a partnership between the Canadian Cattlemen's Association, Ducks Unlimited Canada and the Nature Conservancy of Canada. It highlights how endangered our grasslands are when it comes to protecting biodiversity. I am very proud of the fact that the documentary was filmed in my riding of Foothills on the world-renowned Waldron ranching co-op in southern Alberta.
What does this all mean? What this means is that Canadian farmers have long understood that sustainability and sound science are good for farming. They are good for their families, but they are also good for their bottom line. However, we need to have their backs as well. We need to be there to support them, especially when there are no other alternatives available.
By moving forward with Bill , we can enable our farmers to remain competitive in a global marketplace. It would provide them with the tools they need to further their investments in sustainability and new innovation. It would also exempt natural gas and propane from the carbon tax, which would allow them to heat their barns and dry their grain at an affordable price to remain competitive.
This bill is supported by all aspects of the agriculture sector, and I believe we need to recognize just how important that is. For example, the Agriculture Carbon Alliance, a coalition of 14 national farm organizations that represents more than 190,000 farm businesses and $70 billion in farm cash receipts, is telling us this makes sense, and we should listen.
I want to provide a few quotes from some of the stakeholders who are supporting Bill .
Dave Carey, co-chair of the Agriculture Carbon Alliance, said:
As a national coalition of industry-wide farm organizations, we are focused on prioritising practical solutions to ensure our farmers and ranchers can remain competitive and utilize the tools available to them where no alternative fuel sources exist. [Bill C-234] will provide economic relief for our members, freeing up the working capital they need to implement environmental innovations on farm.
Bob Lowe, president of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association, said:
Beef farmers and ranchers are continuously looking at ways to environmentally improve operations and further contribute positively to Canada’s climate change objectives. Bill C-234 will provide the much needed exemptions for critical farming practices including heating and cooling of livestock barns and steam flaking.
There are very real consequences to the Liberals' carbon tax. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business verified ran the numbers, and they are troubling. On average, in the first year of the Liberals' carbon tax, the average Canadian farmer was paying $14,000 a year in carbon tax. Last year that went to $45,000 for the average Canadian farmer. On April 1, this tax will go up yet again by another 25%. As a result of that, Canadian farmers will be paying, on average, $70,000 per operation. As many of my colleagues have said this afternoon, the margins are very tight in this industry. These taxes, as they go up, are taxing Canadian farmers out of business, which is nonsensical when we understand what a critical role they play in not only feeding Canadians but in carrying the burden of helping to feed the world.
I want to give members a couple of examples from my riding. I put the word out and asked some of my farmers and producers to provide me with their carbon tax bills if they were willing to do so. From Hilltop Dairy in Fort MacLeod, the Van Hierden family shared its carbon tax bills with me, and in 2021 the bills were more than $7,000 for one farm. By comparison, Mountain View Poultry near Okotoks, the Kielstra farm, paid more than $12,000 in carbon taxes in January alone. That is one month.
My colleague and the Liberal Party have talked about supporting Bill , which would have a carbon tax rebate program in it for agriculture. That rebate would be $1.70 per $1,000 of expenditures. That is a fraction of what Canadian farmers are now paying for the carbon tax, so it would be nowhere near carbon neutral. In contrast, Bill would ensure that farmers do not have to pay that carbon tax in the first place, which would be more efficient when it comes to the bureaucracy and the cost of administering a carbon tax rebate, which does not at all do what it is intended to do. Bill C-234 would certainly allow Canadian farmers to be able to do what they do best and be able to continue on with their operations.
To dig down a little deeper and show how unsustainable this program would be, the cost of production per acre in Alberta is about $400. The carbon tax will add more than $3 in costs next year, but in 2030 that will increase to $11, to $18 per acre in Saskatchewan and to $13 per acre in Manitoba. That would eat up whatever profits were there for the farmers to be able to continue on with their livelihoods.
As well, the cost of food will continue to increase. The farmers have nowhere to pass on these expenses, so as a result we are already seeing the cost of living skyrocket. As Canadians across this country are concerned about their ability to put food on the table for their families, this increasing carbon tax will even exacerbate the cost of living crisis we are now facing.
What we have talked about in the House many times is the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. It is going to further cause global food crises. Canadian farmers want to be there to help, but they will not be able to do that, because a farm-killing carbon tax that is being brought in by the Liberal government will make it impossible for our Canadian farmers to do what they do best, which is provide high-quality and sustainable food to feed not only Canadians but the world.
I know that is what Canadian farmers want to do. They are more than willing to carry that burden and that responsibility. They want to do it, but if they are going to do it, we have to give them everything they need to be able to compete on global markets and also to be able to compete here at home.
Now more than ever we need to ensure that Canadian farmers have the support and the structure in place for them to be successful, and by exempting farm fuels like natural gas and propane from the carbon tax, we would ensure that they are able to stay in business. I am asking all of my colleagues in the House to support my colleague from and Bill to help Canadian farmers across this country.