Courtesy of Ontario Federation of Agriculture
In 2022, the Canadian government-imposed tariffs on fertilizer sourced from Russia in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This has placed added financial burden on farmers who are already facing record high fertilizer prices and pressures from inflation and rising interest rates.
Since the tariffs were imposed, the OFA has been actively working on this issue on behalf of its membership and asking for a fair resolution to the tariff issue for farmers. OFA has participated in many meetings with federal government representatives, including federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau, MP Francis Drouin who serves as Parliamentary Secretary to Minister Bibeau, and MP Kody Blois who also chairs the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food.
From the onset, OFA’s preferred solution has been the reimbursement of fertilizer tariff dollars collected by the federal government back to farmers who paid them. This is a similar position that other farm organizations have put forward.
Minister Bibeau, Parliamentary Secretary Drouin and federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland continue to reiterate their commitment to working towards a fair resolution to the tariff issue for the agriculture sector. When the federal government made it clear that a refund of tariffs was not on the table, the OFA worked to develop and propose alternative ways to ensure these dollars were returned to agriculture.
OFA has been actively promoting these options to the federal government, which include:
- Development of a new program or an investment by the federal government into an existing program that provides easy, direct payments to farmers for implementation of Best Management Practices particularly around emission reduction.
- Establishment of a tax rebate to return dollars directly to farmers.
- Investment in the development of domestic nitrogen production in Eastern Canada.
The founding principles of any method to return the fertilizer tariff funds to the agriculture industry must include:
Simplicity. Any compensation program should be easy for farmers to apply to and simple for the government to administer.
Palatable. The federal government has made it clear that any compensation can’t be directly tied to or perceived as being directly tied to farmers who paid the tariffs.
Direct. Given the disproportionate impact on farmers in Eastern Canada, any program must return dollars directly to farmers in Ontario.
Timeliness. Any compensation program should provide payments to farmers as quickly as possible.
OFA continues to advocate on behalf of its members to the federal government and impress upon them the urgency of moving forward with a fair resolution for returning tariff dollars back to agriculture.