A Conservative MP is calling on Canadian consumers to support farmers as the federal government pushes policies to reduce fertilizer emissions, which he said are hurting the farming industry and leading to higher food prices.
“Farmers and consumers around the world are pushing back. They’re pushing back against the European Union’s farm-to-fork agenda, which is making farming unsustainable, food prices skyrocket, and food insecurity even more of a crisis,” John Barlow, Conservative MP for Foothills, Alberta, said in a video posted on social media on June 15.
The farm-to-fork agenda, introduced in May 2020, claims that a third of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions came from food production, and it aims to “[transform] the way food is produced and consumed” to reduce impacts on the environment.
Massive protests have erupted in several countries where the governments are complying with the agenda by introducing climate change policies to radically reduce fertilizer emissions and cut down the number of livestock, including in Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, and Sri Lanka.
Barlow, the shadow minister for Agriculture, Agri-Food, and Food Security, warns that similar policies are being proposed in Canada.
“The Liberals are following the same farm-to-fork agenda and we’re seeing that with forced reductions in fertilizer use, a burdensome carbon tax, and choking red tape and regulations, which are doing the same thing to our farmers here—making them unsustainable with decreased yields, and higher food costs,” he said.
“We need Canadian consumers to stand up and support Canadian agriculture, our farm families, to ensure that they have all the tools they need to be successful, not only to feed our fellow Canadians, but step up in that moral obligation to help feed the world.”
In December 2020, the Liberal government also introduced its plan to reduce the absolute levels of greenhouse gas emissions arising from fertilizer use by 30 percent below 2020 levels by 2030. Specifically, it aims to reduce nitrous oxide emissions associated with synthetic nitrogen fertilizer use.
Barlow reiterated his arguments by retweeting the video on July 25, days after an annual meeting between federal, provincial, and territorial agriculture ministers concluded on July 22, with several provincial ministers expressing frustration over the Liberal government’s plan to slash fertilizer emissions by 30 percent.
In a joint statement released after the meeting, agriculture ministers from Alberta and Saskatchewan said despite provincial efforts to push the federal government to discuss the matter of fertilizer emissions reductions, and that the issue was not part of the agriculture ministers’ meeting, they were “disappointed to learn that the target is already set.”
“The commitment to future consultations are only to determine how to meet the target that Prime Minister Trudeau and [federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau] have already unilaterally imposed on this industry, not to consult on what is achievable or attainable,” the statement reads.
Ontario’s Agriculture Minister Lisa Thompson also released a statement on July 22, criticizing Ottawa’s “lack of flexibility and consultation” with the provinces.
“I am disappointed in the federal government’s approach to imposing fertilizer emission reduction targets when the world is struggling with food security,” Thompson said.
“As our farmers work to feed Canada and the world, we need to work with them and support their ongoing efforts to grow and produce the food we need,” she added. “The federal government needs to be true partners, rather than simply imposing targets that make it harder.”
On July 24, interim Conservative Party leader Candice Bergen also called for support for Canadian farmers.
“When the world needed #CanadianEnergy, Justin Trudeau tried to shut it down. Now, as the world needs food and should be getting it from Canada, he’s doing all he can to kill #CanadianAgriculture,” she wrote on Twitter.
On July 23, multiple convoy protests were launched across Canada in solidarity with farmers in the Netherlands and other European countries who have been protesting against climate change policies over the past few months. At least 55 convoys rolled out in eight provinces: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec, and Saskatchewan.
Isaac Teo contributed to this article.