Grain Farmers: Clean fuels standard misses mark on biofuels

OPINION –  Grain Farmers of Ontario, the province’s largest commodity organization, representing Ontario’s 28,000 barley, corn, oat, soybean and wheat farmers today has deep concerns about the current Clean Fuels Standard (CFS) proposed by the Canadian government, are opposed to the criteria for land use, and ask for transparency around carbon numbers and any certification processes. 

The CFS currently contains restrictions on land use, which will discourage farmers from planting and growing biofuel crops. The restrictions do not take into account the sustainability efforts that farmers already take, or the competitive advantage that will now benefit other countries selling corn and soybeans into Canada for biofuels.  

“Farmers today already use less land to grow more. Our farmer-members are constantly evolving their operations to be more sustainable, meaning we can help to provide the grains needed for true carbon emission reduction practices across the country in a sustainable, renewable way, but not if we are continually restricted by a government that is not making decisions based on scientific analysis,” Grain Farmers of Ontario chair Markus Haerle said. 

Over the last 30 years, grain farmers have increased land use efficiency by 39 percent and reduced their climate impact by 45 percent in corn production alone. 

Grain farmers in Ontario produce most of Canada’s corn and soybeans – both important grains in ethanol and biodiesel production. Ethanol is proven to reduce carbon emissions by almost 40 percent in vehicular emissions – one of the largest culprits of GHG. Any regulations that make it harder for farmers to produce crops for domestic biofuels use are actually detrimental to the goals of the CFS. 

“Our growing practices have been assessed and deemed sustainable by the US Environmental Protection Agency. We are shocked to see a regulation that will damage our ability to trade freely and negatively impact our own domestic markets. Instead of embracing the hard work farmers do to grow crops for the green economy, the proposed Clean Fuels Standard will penalize farmers,” Haerle said. “The potential impacts to the rural communities we farm in, and support, are very concerning to us.”

The CFS puts needless regulatory burden on farmers and the important role that Ontario-grown corn and locally produced ethanol plays in reducing carbon emissions. The CFS also diminishes the potential of Ontario agriculture in assisting with a post-COVID economic recovery. 

Grain Farmers of Ontario urges the government to exclude the land use criteria in the CFS as unnecessary red tape that will negatively impact the ability of Ontario farmers to drive ethanol production, which ignores the tremendous work that farmers have done and continue to do to improve their environmental footprint.

Grain Farmers of Ontario is the province’s largest commodity organization, representing Ontario’s 28,000 barley, corn, oat, soybean, and wheat farmers. The crops they grow cover over 6 million acres of farm land across the province, generate over $4.1 billion in production value, result in over $18 billion in economic output and are responsible for over 75,000 jobs in the province.