OTTAWA – The Fruit and Vegetable Growers of Canada (FVGC) is calling on the Canadian Senate to urgently pass Bill C-234, a pivotal piece of legislation for the agricultural sector and consumers.
The final vote is expected today, (Nov. 21), but there are serious concerns the vote will be further delayed. This private member’s bill, which passed in the House of Commons with all-party support, aims to provide specific exemptions for farmers under Canada’s carbon pricing system.
“Given the current surge in food inflation, the highest in 40 years, the enactment of Bill C-234 is a critical measure not only in agricultural policy but also in addressing the broader cost-of-living crisis in Canada,” the Fruit and Vegetable Growers of Canada (FVGC) released in a statement today.
FVGC President Jan VanderHout highlights the critical situation of family farms and the necessity of accessible fresh fruits and vegetables.
“Bill C-234 is vital for an industry struggling with soaring carbon taxes and increasing operational expenses,” she said. “For example, a 30-acre Ontario greenhouse pepper family farm incurs about $150,000 in annual carbon tax expenses at today’s rates. This mid-sized commercial operation can incur expenses between $7,000-$12,000 per month. We urge the Senate to promptly pass Bill C-234, enabling us to continue providing affordable food for Canadians.”
Currently, carbon costs are unavoidable for growers. Adopting Bill C-234 would enable farmers to reinvest carbon tax expenditures into innovative, low-emission technologies, driving down both agricultural costs and consumer food prices, while supporting environmental sustainability.
As the carbon tax escalates, currently at $65 per tonne and projected to reach $170/tonne by 2030, Canadian agriculture faces significant financial burdens. Sector-wide, Canadian greenhouse growers will spend approximately $22 million in 2023 in carbon taxes applied to their natural gas used to grow food year-round in Canada, and this amount will rise to between $82-100 million by 2030.
“The passage of Bill C-234 is crucial to averting a spike in grocery prices and offering substantial support to farmers battling rising costs and carbon tax challenges,” FVGC said. “FVGC implores Canadian Senators to acknowledge the significance of this bill and act swiftly in its approval. The future sustainability of Canadian agriculture and the affordability of food nationwide hinges on this essential decision.”
The FVGC represents growers across the country involved in the production of more than 120 different types of crops on more than 14,000 farms, with a farm gate value of $5.9 billion in 2021. FVGC is an Ottawa-based voluntary, not-for-profit, national association, and, since 1922, has advocated on important issues that impact Canada’s fresh produce sector, promoting healthy, safe, and sustainable food, ensuring the continued success and growth of the industry.
The FVGC won’t be alone on Parliament Hill as the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is also urging the government to pass Bill C-234.
“The federal fuel surcharge has already placed an incredible burden on farmers that will only become more significant as carbon tax rates continue to increase,” the OFA released in a statement yesterday (Nov. 20). “This has far-reaching effects on Canadian farm businesses, with deep and long-term negative impacts on Canadian food security and affordability, and the sustainability of farms and food producers.”
“As this bill goes to a final vote, this united group of farm organizations is sending a strong, direct message to Senators, the federal government, the farm members we represent and Canadians nation-wide that Bill C-234 is critically important to farmers from a wide range of sectors,” OFA President Peggy Brekveld said. “We appreciate the support from Senators, elected officials, government members and industry partners who have passionately taken up the charge to be our voice in Ottawa on this issue in recent months.”
Bill C-234 is a private member’s bill introduced by Huron-Bruce MP Ben Lobb to address an oversight in the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act of 2018. That act placed a regulatory charge on fossil fuels like gasoline and natural gas to encourage industries to become more efficient and use cleaner technologies.
However, the act didn’t acknowledge those more efficient and cleaner technologies are not yet commercially viable options for farmers and farm businesses and that more research and time is need for alternative technologies to be scaled up and readily available to farmers at a reasonable price.
The farm organization delegation includes representatives from Beef Farmers of Ontario, Mushrooms Canada, Ontario Broiler Chicken Hatching Egg Producers Association, Ontario FVGC, Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers, Ontario Pork and Veal Farmers of Ontario.