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KAP pegs carbon tax cost for grain drying at $1.7M

Both Keystone Agricultural Producers and the province are hoping the federal government will give ground on a carbon tax exemption for grain drying

Keystone Agricultural Producers says carbon tax cost corn producers $1.7 million in grain drying last fall. It’s money the provincial government says they shouldn’t have to pay.

Both the province and Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) are pushing for a carbon tax exemption for grain drying, following 2019’s wet harvest.

During his comments at Ag Days 2020, Premier Brian Pallister publicly called on the federal government to take another look at the province’s green plan, a plan that would exempt grain drying from a carbon tax.

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“It’s the kind of thing that matters to producers, clearly,” Pallister said. “You don’t dry grain for fun.”

Why it matters: Lots of crop is left in the field after the “harvest from hell,” and even more went into the bin wet, and producers say the carbon tax hit they took for drying those crops was adding insult to injury.

KAP began collecting carbon tax expense information from its membership in late 2019, following a meeting of Canada’s provincial and territorial leaders.

Their current data shows that corn producers paid an average $3.69 on grain drying per acre, and that the average farmer growing 500 acres of corn paid an estimated $14,145 on fuel for dryers, $1,722 of which went to carbon tax. The organization based the numbers on member information from October to December, as well as Manitoba’s corn acreage.

“We also recognize that there is a significant amount of grain drying that has happened for canola production and wheat production,” KAP president Bill Campbell said.

According to Campbell, those numbers present enough of a chunk out of Manitoba’s farm economy to validate an exemption.

“We do not have alternative methods of getting our crop into storage condition,” he argued, pointing to corn moisture contents in excess of 35-40 per cent this fall.

Campbell also argued that the carbon tax puts Canadian grain at a competitive disadvantage compared to the U.S.

Those numbers are preliminary, KAP admits, although Campbell says they are “pretty confident in the numbers that we have received.”

KAP called on producers to bring their fuel bills to the KAP booth at Ag Days, running Jan. 21-23 at Brandon’s Keystone Centre, to help bolster the data.

In late 2019, both KAP and the provincial government said they would use those numbers to make their case with the federal government.

Campbell says he hopes to send in those numbers soon. KAP will bring their reports to the Canadian Federation of Agriculture annual meeting later this year.

“Hopefully there will be some form of dialogue,” Campbell said. “We have been requesting MP engagement when we go to Ottawa at the end of February and hopefully they will allow us the opportunity to visit with them and present these numbers at that time.”

In November 2019, KAP requested a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the topic. Both the province and the federal government have informally requested the carbon tax cost information, Campbell said, but KAP has received no formal request to submit or validate their findings.

For more on this and other stories out of Ag Days 2020, check out our Jan. 30 print edition.

About the author

Reporter

Alexis Stockford is a journalist and photographer with the Manitoba Co-operator. She previously reported with the Morden Times and was news editor of  campus newspaper, The Omega, at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, BC. She grew up on a mixed farm near Miami, Man.

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