NFU asks for rebate on fuel used for on-farm grain drying

WEST CARLETON – The National Farmers Union has sent a letter to Hon. Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, outlining the urgent need for a rebate on pollution pricing fees currently being charged on natural gas and propane used for on-farm grain drying. 

In line with the Paris Agreement’s goals regarding food security and food production, the federal Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act exempts farmers’ gasoline and diesel purchases used for running farm machinery on the farm and for driving machinery from one location to another at a farm, but does not exempt propane or natural gas used on farms for grain drying. As a result, farmers have additional costs for unavoidable grain drying, and some may resort to using higher-emitting diesel burners to avoid paying the carbon price the letter mailed yesterday (Dec. 18) pointed out.

NFU members passed a resolution at the recent national convention asking the federal government to provide a rebate to farmers for fuel utilized in on-farm grain drying operations.

“Obviously propane was overlooked when fuel exemptions were addressed,” NFU board member Doug Scott said. “Drying grain has become a significant cost for prairie grain farmers and propane is the main fuel used for drying grain.”  

“It is absurd for the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act to offer an exemption that seems to encourage farmers to use diesel-fired burners for grain drying, while penalizing those who use cleaner-burning natural gas or propane,” Kyle Korneychuk who farms in Pelly, SK, said. “We believe this is an oversight that can be corrected by setting up a rebate as soon as possible.”

“This year spring started two to four weeks later than normal, seed for early-maturing varieties was in short supply, and an early killing frost in October was followed by considerable rain and snow. All this means Ontario and Quebec farmers are faced with a crop that is abnormally wet and expensive to dry,” noted Don Ciparis of Rodney, ON. “Drying costs have to be factored into the current reality of farming, and recognized by rebating carbon tax paid on propane needed to make our crops saleable.”

“Our elevators just wouldn’t take in soybeans over 14% moisture content, but we got it off between 15  and 18 per cent in November. A propane or natural gas grain dryer is the only solution we have to bringing soybean moisture down this winter,” Dean Harder of Lowe Farm, MB said. “We’re hopeful the government understands our predicament and will work with the agriculture industry to find alternative grain drying solutions in the future, but right now propane is still the best option on our farm.” 

In 2015, Canada signed on to the Paris Agreement, which recognizes the particular vulnerabilities of food production systems to the adverse impacts of climate change and the need to safeguard food security. In accordance with the Paris Agreement, Canada enacted the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act in 2018, which requires all provinces to establish a carbon pricing mechanism as a market-based incentive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). Residents of provinces that have not yet established their own carbon pricing system, or have repealed their former systems, are covered by the federal Act. This includes Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.