CFIB calls on Canada to keep fertilizer emissions goal voluntary

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses, has called on the federal government to ensure that the drive to cut nitrogen fertilizer emissions by 30 per cent remains voluntary for Canadian agri-businesses.

The government is currently conducting consultations on its plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from nitrogen fertilizer by 30 per cent below 2020 levels by 2030. However, CFIB is urging the government not to mandate that level of reduction.

In a letter to Ottawa, CFIB leaders emphasize that nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) of farmers said the yield of their crops and overall food production will be reduced if the federal government required them to reduce their use of nitrogen fertilizer, according to a recent CFIB survey.

“Right now, the emissions reduction target is voluntary, and it should stay that way,” said Corinne Pohlmann, Senior Vice-President of National Affairs at CFIB. “Requiring Canadian agri-businesses to reduce their use of nitrogen fertilizer would add another hurdle and have negative impacts on the industry that is already hard hit by skyrocketing input costs and supply chain delays.”

Almost two-thirds (60 per cent) of businesses said a mandatory reduction would decrease the profitability of their agri-business, adds CFIB, and 42 per cent said it would be challenging as they have already reduced their nitrogen fertilizer use.

CFIB’s recent research also shows that many Canadian farmers have already adopted or plan to adopt best practices to manage or reduce nitrogen emissions. Some of these practices include conservation tillage (53 per cent), annual soil testing for nitrogen (50 per cent), and rotating in nitrogen-fixing crops (50 per cent).

“Nitrogen fertilizer is an essential crop nutrient and an important input for Canadian farmers. Forcing them to reduce their use of fertilizer would result in decreased yield of their crop, less profitability and competitiveness. Given the current global challenges to food supply, now is not the time to add policies that threaten to reduce yields even further,” added Taylor Brown, a policy analyst at CFIB. “The federal government should give farmers more autonomy and provide support if they want to voluntarily improve their nitrogen management and adopt better practices.”

CFIB has sent a submission letter on the fertilizer emissions reduction target to the federal government urging it to keep its target voluntary. Read the full letter here.