A meeting of federal and provincial ministers wrapped up in Saskatoon on Friday with several provinces saying they are disappointed.
The federal government is looking to impose a requirement to reduce nitrous oxide emissions from fertilizers saying it is a greenhouse gas contributing to climate change. While the Trudeau government says they want a 30% reduction in emissions, not fertilizer, farm producer groups say that at this point, reducing nitrous oxide emissions can’t be done without reducing fertilizer use.
“Provinces were disappointed by the lack of flexibility and consultation regarding the federal target,” Ontario’s Lisa Thompson said after the meeting.
Several provincial governments, and organizations representing farmers have asked for emissions reductions from fertilizer to be measured via intensity – how much food is produced compared to the amount of fertilizer used. The Trudeau government is demanding an absolute reduction in emissions, which farmers say will result in less food being produced at a time when the world can ill afford it.
“The world is looking for Canada to increase production and be a solution to global food shortages. The Federal government needs to display that they understand this,” Alberta minister Nate Horner said.
“We’re really concerned with this arbitrary goal,” Saskatchewan’s David Marit said.
Federal minister Marie-Claude Bibeau called the government’s target ambitious but claims it’s one that farmers will embrace.
“I’m meeting with many farmers in the field. I know how much they care for the environment and how much they invest in new practices and new technologies to reduce their emissions as much as possible,” Bibeau said. “The idea is to produce the most sustainable food in the world.”
Farm groups, like the Western Canadian Wheat Growers, have said the federal plan will reduce crop output, reduce income for farm families and increase food prices in Canadian grocery stores.
While ministers Thompson, Horner and Marit all ran successful farming and ranching operations before entering politics, Bibeau was an international development bureaucrat and operated a tourism-related small business.