Ontario Bean Growers call on the federal government to return the federal fertilizer tariffs on purchases made prior to war on Ukraine.
The Ontario Bean Growers and farmers across Canada are paying a 35% federal tariff on fertilizers purchased from Russia prior to the war. “The federal government regulations have placed Ontario at a huge price disadvantage for our crops” says Ontario Bean Growers’ Chairman Dave Woods. “We recognize the mistakes the Russian Government has made in invading Ukraine, but making farmers, and ultimately Canadian consumers, pay for a tariff during high inflation and a time of increasing food shortages, is unfair and unwise especially when most purchases were made prior to the war”.
The Ontario Bean Growers call on the federal government to return the fertilizer tariffs entirely or at least for those purchases made prior to the war and invest in domestic fertilizer production in the long term. “We are also asking for the Federal Government to examine major trading partners, such as the US, to assess the disparity on costs caused by the Canadian regulations,” says Woods. Several farm organizations across Canada have asked the federal government to lift tariffs or return tariff to farmers, while at the same time the US government has effectively removed their tariffs on fertilizer imports from Russia and all other members of the G7 have no tariffs. In Canada, the federal government has refused to listen to the plight of Canadian farmers on the high fertilizer costs for which the government has helped create.
“Our farmers are doing everything they can to reduce fertilizers as it is one of the highest input costs, however, there is only so much we can do before yields are affected for this year and next year,” says Woods. “The government does not understand the impact they have on our farmers’ ability to grow food. Whether carbon taxes, import tariffs, diesel taxes, pesticide bans, supply chain disruptions, lingering COVID vaccine mandates, rail strikes, fertilizer reduction regulations the government is constantly making farmers wonder if they can continue to operate and grow food in Canada.”
Russia is the world’s number one exporter of nitrogen fertilizerand the second largest in phosphorus and potassium fertilizers. These costs have had a major impact on the Ontario farmer’s ability to compete. Ontario exports 90% of its bean crop and the additional 35% tariff will make Ontario and Canadian farmers’ sales even more difficult to remain competitive with the US.
Farmers have already significantly reduced their need for fertilizer through crop rotation, cover crops (e.g. growing nitrogen-producing cover crops before corn), and alternative sources of nutrients like livestock manure. Unfortunately, there is not enough manure from animals to meet the demand of all the crops being grown in Ontario, and nutrients aren’t as measurable in manure as they can be with commercial fertilizers. Manure, a natural fertilizer, from livestock has also been negatively targeted by the Federal government’s climate change policy discussions. The removal of fertilizers will unquestionably reduce yields which play against other government targets to increase agricultural production and exports.
Farmers also ensure that they are applying the correct amount of fertilizer by testing their soils and applying only what is needed to produce their crops. But crops like Kidney beans, Black beans and Pinto beans still require the proper amount of nutrients to grow. Reducing applied fertilizer isn’t a great option for Ontario and Canadian farmers when the world is relying on our country to produce more to meet the Ukraine’s crop shortage due to the war with Russia.
So, what does this mean for consumers? “Unfortunately, we feel that food prices are going to continue to rise. This will be compounded, again, by whether farmers in the Ukraine are able to harvest and export crops this year as they are a major exporter of grains such as corn and wheat,” says Woods.
Ontario farmers are starting to plan for next year’s fertilizer needs. Canada has the potential to supply the entire demand of its own nitrogen fertilizer, as product made from natural gas, however this takes time; time farmers don’t have for the next season. Without the removal and assistance by the federal government prices will continue to increase for both farmers and consumers.
ABOUT THE ONTARIO BEAN GROWERS
The Ontario Bean Growers (OBG) is a non-profit farmer organization representing the 1,100 farmers in Ontario growing just over 100,000 acres of dry beans. OBG engages with government and industry stakeholders on issues that affect the productivity and profitability of the industry.
|Ryan Koeslag, Executive Director
Email: Ryan Koeslag, email@example.com