As we all know now, farmers from all across the Netherlands have been out protesting their government’s plan to reduce nitrous oxide emissions arguing it will destroy businesses and but families out of a livelihood and reduce food production which in turn will impact consumers.
The reason for the uprising of the Dutch farmers comes on the back of a policy similar to that of what Justin Trudeau wants to implement in Canada.
In 2020 the Trudeau Liberal government introduced a plan to “reduce emissions” from fertilizer by 30% below 2020 levels by 2030 to meet Justin Trudeau’s overly ambitious and unrealistic goals.
“Fertilizers play a major role in the agriculture sector’s success and have contributed to record harvests in the last decade. They have helped drive increases in Canadian crop yields, grain sales, and exports,” a news release from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada reads.
“However, nitrous oxide emissions, particularly those associated with synthetic nitrogen fertilizer use have also grown significantly. That is why the Government of Canada has set the national fertilizer emissions reduction target, which is part of the commitment to reduce total GHG emissions in Canada by 40-45% by 2030….”
Within the government own news release they admit reducing the use of fertilizer will indeed lower the crop yield which means less food being produced per acre.
The government of Canada was highly criticized by Fertilizer Canada calling the plan a “short-sighted approach” saying the reduction of nitrogen fertilizer use “will have considerable impact on Canadian farmers’ incomes and reduce overall Canadian exports and GDP.”
- Total Emission Reduction puts a cap on the total emissions allowable from fertilizer at 30% below 2020 levels. As the yield of Canadian crops is directly linked to proper fertilizer application this creates a ceiling on Canadian agricultural productivity well below 2020 levels….
- It is estimated that a 30% absolute emission reduction for a farmer with 1000 acres of canola and 1000 acres of wheat, stands to have their profit reduced by approximately $38,000 – $40,500/ annually.
- In 2020, Western Canadian farmers planted approximately 20.8 million acres of canola. Using these values, cumulatively farm revenues from canola could be reduced by $396M – $441M on an annual basis. Wheat famers could experience a reduction of $400M.
Meyers Norris Penny (MNP) estimates that regulated fertilizer reduction could cost Canadian farmers $48 billion by 2030 and reduce crop sizes.
By this time, “yield gaps for three major crops are estimated at 23.6 bushels per acre per year for canola, 67.9 bushels per acre per year for corn, and 36.1 bushels per acre per year for spring wheat.”
The government is also promoting “greener” fertilizer to Canadian farmers to use which costs more money and will result more costly crops which translate to higher prices for consumers.
Fertilizer Canada thinks that reducing fertilizer use forcibly won’t even reduce greenhouse gas emissions; instead, it could result in carbon leakage in other places.
Even though the Trudeau government was served with other suggestions by the farming industry in collaboration with farmers, he is still moving ahead with his plans while many critics are questioning if Justin Trudeau is intentionally trying to create government manufactured food shortages. Trudeau previously told Canadians at a press conference in BC to prepare for food shortages.
“We’ve seen… disruptions of supply chains around the world, which is resulting in higher prices for consumers and democracies, like ours, and resulting in significant shortages and projected shortages of food, of energy in places around the world.” Trudeau said.
“This is going to be a difficult time” as he continued “because of the war, because of the recovery from the pandemic.”
Fertilizer Canada suggests the government needs to focus on emissions intensity and not emissions absolute.
“A focus on absolute emissions is short-sighted and threatens the agricultural community, and the provincial economies that rely on them. We cannot meet our export or growth targets with this mindset. Focusing on emissions intensity will deliver outcomes that are better for the environment and for farmers”
Any federal emissions reduction target must be based on emissions intensity and consider emissions per unit of crop produced to maintain growing agricultural exports.
Focusing on absolute emissions from the sector will have severe consequences to the competitiveness of farmers and the fertilizer industry.
What’s the Difference Between Absolute Versus Intensity?
According to Fertilizer Canada:
Total Emission Reduction puts a cap on the total emissions allowable from fertilizer at 30% below 2020 levels. As the yield of Canadian crops is directly linked to proper fertilizer application this creates a ceiling on Canadian agricultural productivity well below 2020 levels.
Emissions Intensity Reduction focuses on reducing the emissions it takes to produce a bushel of crop. This definition of emissions reduction does not put any restrictions on Canadian farmers, rather it allows crop yields to continue to grow while progressively minimizing the emissions from each crop.
In Fertilizer Canada report, it suggests the best way for farmers to reduce emissions but still be profitable would be to use a program they call a “4R Stewardship.”
It’s pretty much a standardized guide to fertilizing crops but also flexible enough to adapt to each region of the country for farming.
“4R Nutrient Stewardship – a science-based approach to fertilizer management that involves applying the Right Source of fertilizer at the Right Rate, Right Time and Right Place. Use of 4R Nutrient Stewardship optimizes plant nutrient uptake, increases yield and maximizes profitability, while also minimizing nitrous oxide emissions.” the report says.
This is a clear warning to Justin Trudeau he could see a convoy of tractors leading the way to see him in Ottawa because they are hard workers and help keep us fed.
As BC Rise reported in March Canadians are having problems keeping up with the cost of living.
Conservative critics have accused the Liberal government of mismanaging Canada’s finances, which has resulted in a spike in consumer prices across the country. Canadian inflation in housing, food prices, and supply chains for strategic goods
According to Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre “Our economy has become a gigantic inflated balloon. The asset class in which we see this balloon.”
Canadians are feeling the crunch on their wallets and bank accounts and can’t afford the price of food to inflate anymore. At the end of June BC Rise reported 45% of Canadians say they are financially worse now than last year and expect it to get worse with 63% stating cost of living as their major concern.
The rise to the Dutch farmers leading to country wide protests including thousands of supporters which was sparked by the same kind of policy Justin Trudeau wants to implement on Canadian farmers.
On Monday, July 4, 2022, Farmers blockaded airports and product distribution centers across the country while shutting down major city centres.
Tear gas was also deployed at one of the blockades to disperse a crowd of farmers and supporters.
Enforcement of the Dutch farmer uprising ramped up and got real ugly on Tuesday, July 5, 2022, police opened fire shooting live ammunition rounds at farmers and their tractors.
We saw similar swat like tactics last winter when thousands of people descended on Ottawa for a three week Freedom Convoy protest.
Agriculture Canada has previously accused Canada’s cereal industry of having “one of the highest levels of emissions intensity” among exporting countries while claiming that comes from the data gathered by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
“Available data show that Canadian cereal production likely has one of the highest levels of emissions intensity (amount of GHGs emitted per unit of product) amongst major exporting countries,” Agriculture Canada claims. “Canada’s emission intensity for cereals in 2017 is higher than those reported for the United States, the European Union and (other regions).”
President of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Gunter Jochum responded to that claim in an interview with True North and said “I would like to know where they got their facts from,” said Jochum. “I believe those facts were entirely made up because in Canada we don’t even have a baseline as to what the true emissions are.”
He explained there are several different forms of fertilizer used on farms which some “actually have very little nitrous oxide emissions” but also depends how the fertilizer is applied on the farm.
“Across Western Canada, we are at the forefront of applying fertilizer properly.”
“Until we have those (measurements) I’m very suspect to the government making bold statements like that, which I find quite ludicrous,” Jochum continued. “It’s not reasonable at all. I don’t think it’s a good idea to put any kind of cap on fertilizer manufacturing or fertilizer use for that matter.”