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Farmers Converge in Ottawa to Urge the Passage of Bill C-234 in Response to Growing Carbon Tax Burdens

Several farmers’ groups and a number of Conservative MPs and senators gathered on Parliament Hill and marched to the Senate to demand that senators pass Bill C-234, which would exempt some fuels used by farmers from the federal carbon tax.

“Our Canadian farmers are world leaders in sustainable and efficient food production. But after eight years of Justin Trudeau and his costly carbon tax, their livelihoods and their family farms are in jeopardy,” said Conservative MP and shadow Agriculture Minister John Barlow during a press conference on Nov. 21 before the march took place.

“That is why this common sense Conservative Bill C-234 was introduced, because a tax on the farmer is an increase on the cost of food for every single Canadian.”

Flanked by farmers from across Canada, Mr. Barlow told reporters that the bill would provide “much-needed relief” for farmers facing difficulties due to the federal carbon tax. He said while an exemption already exists for gas and diesel used by farmers, the bill would expand the exemption to natural gas and propane, which are “actually cleaner burning fuels.”

Bill C-234 passed the House of Commons with support from Conservative, NDP, Bloc Quebecois, and Green Party MPs, with a few Liberals also voting in favour. The bill was debated in the Senate as part of the third reading on Nov. 9, but before it could go on to receive Royal Assent and become law, a Liberal senator proposed amendments that would remove provisions extending the carbon tax exemption on the use of propane and natural gas for agricultural purposes, eight years after the bill is passed.

According to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, the original form of Bill C-234 would save farmers, and by extension consumers, nearly $1 billion between now and 2030.

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Mr. Barlow said that Liberal senators were trying to “kill Bill C-234,” and accused Liberal ministers of “frantically calling senators, strong-arming them to kill this bill.”

“From Alberta to Atlantic Canada, our farmers are asking senators to do the right thing and pass Bill C-234 in its original form, so farmers have a more affordable livelihood and Canadians have more affordable food to put on their tables,” he said.

Farmers Decry Rising Costs

The delegation in Ottawa included groups such as Beef Farmers of Ontario, Mushrooms Canada, Ontario Broiler Chicken Hatching Egg Producers Association, Ontario Fruit & Vegetable Growers’ Association, Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers, Ontario Pork, and Veal Farmers of Ontario.

Jan VanderHout, a third-generation cucumber farmer from Hamilton, said the passage of the bill would make a difference to farmers as well as consumers. “People think that they’re just going to lay this on the farmers, ‘oh, just one more expense for the farmers.’ But the reality is the consumers of Canada and our competitors will be paying the price,” he said.

Colin Chapdelaine of Star Produce, a grower and marketer of greenhouse products in Alberta and British Columbia, said the carbon tax harms competitiveness for farmers. “Getting our inputs taxed higher, when we export 80 percent of our product to the U.S., puts us at a competitive disadvantage. And we’re looking to have this [bill] passed unamended so we can be on the same playing field as our partners in the U.S.,” he said.

Hessel Kielstra, a poultry farmer from Alberta, said the carbon tax will cost him $480,000 a year by 2030. “That’s unaffordable and has to be passed on to consumers. But as we all know, you can’t pass all things on. So a lot of farmers will fail because you won’t be able to do it economically,” he said.

Mike Mederios, who has owned a mushroom farm south of Ottawa since 1984, told t\The Epoch Times that this year he has had to pay nearly $173,000 in carbon taxes. He says that number is set to balloon to $450,000 by 2030, “which is more than my heating costs right now.”

Mr. Mederios said his farm hasn’t increased prices since the spring of 2022, but they might soon be forced to in 2024 when the next carbon tax increase occurs. “We want the price of mushrooms to stay viable and cost-effective for the consumer. … It’s a staple and should stay as a staple. We’re worried that the price will get to a point where people will feel it’s a luxury item and we won’t be able to sell,” he said.

By passing Bill C-234, Mr. Mederios said Ottawa would be helping his farm stay viable. “Any bit of money coming back to the farm would help right now. Interest rates have gone up immensely. It is tough right now.”

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