‘We don’t have electric tractors’: Carbon tax exemption push for farmers supported by South Glengarry

In this March 2019, file photo, South Glengarry Coun. Sam McDonell takes part in a council meeting. McDonell, who works for farm input company SynAgri, supports a move to exempt agricultural producers from the federal carbon tax. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

LANCASTER – South Glengarry council is supporting a move by a southwestern Ontario agricultural advisory board to have the federal government exempt farmers from the carbon tax.

Council agreed to support the Norfolk County Agricultural Advisory Board’s application during its meeting Tuesday night to exempt “primary agricultural producers.” The application is also supported by the Sarnia-area town of Plympton-Wyoming.

Coun. Sam McDonell, a salesman for fertilizer and seed distributor SynAgri, say farmers are paying for the tax three times – to companies like the one he works for, then to dry the crops and then for fuel to plant, harvest and get the crops to market.

“Farms have very little control over the markets they use because they are at the mercy of the world markets and no avenue to pass along (the tax) to the consumer,” McDonell said.

“I will just add to a famous quote – a farmer buys everything at retail, sells everything at wholesale, pays the freight both ways and is going to pay the carbon tax both ways and it doesn’t seem fair,” the councillor added.

Coun. Martin Lang, also a farmer, agreed there are few alternatives for farmers.

“We don’t have electric tractors that we could go to instead of burning diesel. We can’t dry out corn or grain any other way. We are basically being taxed…there’s no way to get away from it. We are stuck between a rock and a hard place,” Lang said.

Coun. Stephanie Jaworski, owner of an organic hop farm in Williamstown (Old 4th Hop Yard), is interested in what South Glengarry’s agricultural committee would have to say on the issue.

“This is something that most of the customers I work with, this is a very large cost to them. I would like to understand how the ag industry, how they perceive it’s different on them,” she said.

In addition to going to South Glengarry’s agricultural committee, the resolution is being sent to Norfolk County council, MP Eric Duncan as well as the federal environment and agriculture ministers.