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Agriculture

How oil and gas support food security in Canada and around the world

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General view of the ‘TD Canadian 4-H Dairy Classic Showmanship’ within the 101st edition of Royal Agricultural Winter Fair at Exhibition Place in Toronto, Ontario, on November 6, 2023. The Royal is the largest combined indoor agriculture fair and international equestrian competition in the world. Getty Images photo

From the Canadian Energy Centre

By Mario Toneguzzi

‘Agriculture requires fuel, and it requires lubricants. It requires heat and electricity. Modern agriculture can’t be done without energy’

Agriculture and oil and gas are two of Canada’s biggest businesses – and they are closely linked, industry leaders say.  

From nitrogen-based fertilizer to heating and equipment fuels, oil and gas are the backbone of Canada’s farms, providing food security for Canadians and exports to nearly 200 countries around the world.  

“Canada is a country that is rich in natural resources, and we are among the best, I would even characterize as the best, in terms of the production of sustainable energy and food, not only for Canadians but for the rest of the world,” said Don Smith, chief operating officer of the United Farmers of Alberta Co-operative.  

“The two are very closely linked together… Agriculture requires fuel, and it requires lubricants. It requires heat and electricity. Modern agriculture can’t be done without energy, and it is a significant portion of operating expenses on a farm.” 

The need for stable food sources is critical to a global economy whose population is set to reach 9.7 billion people by 2050. 

The main pillars of food security are availability and affordability, said Keith Currie, president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA). 

“In Canada, availability is not so much an issue. We are a very productive country when it comes to agriculture products and food products. But food affordability has become an issue for a number of people,” said Currie, who is also on the advisory council for the advocacy group Energy for a Secure Future. 

The average price of food bought in stores increased by nearly 25 per cent over the last five years, according to Statistics Canada. 

Restricting access to oil and gas, or policies like carbon taxes that increase the cost for farmers to use these fuels, risk increasing food costs even more for Canadians and making Canadian food exports less attractive to global customers, CFA says. 

“Canada is an exporting nation when it comes to food. In order for us to be competitive we not only have to have the right trade deals in place, but we have to be competitive price wise too,” Currie said. 

Under an incredible Saskatchewan sky, a farmer walks toward his air seeder to begin the process of planting this year’s crop. Getty Images photo

Canada is the fifth-largest exporter of agri-food and seafood in the world, exporting approximately $93 billion of products in 2022, according to Agriculture Canada.  

Meanwhile, Canadians spent nearly $190 billion on food, beverage, tobacco and cannabis products in 2022, representing the third-largest household expenditure category after transportation and shelter. 

Currie said there are opportunities for renewable energy to help supplement oil and gas in agriculture, particularly in biofuels.  

“But we’re not at a point from a production standpoint or an overall infrastructure standpoint where it’s a go-to right away,” he said.  

“We need the infrastructure and we need probably a lot of incentives before we can even think about moving away from the oil and gas sector as a supplier of energy right now.” 

Worldwide demand for oil and gas in the agriculture sector continues to grow, according to CEC Research.  

Driven by Africa and Latin America, global oil use in agriculture increased to 118 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) in 2022, up from 110 million tonnes in 1990.  

Demand for natural gas also increased — from 7.5 Mtoe in 1990 to 11 Mtoe in 2022.   

Sylvain Charlebois, senior director, in the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, said food security depends on three pillars – access, safety, and affordability.   

“Countries are food secure on different levels. Canada’s situation I think is envious to be honest. I think we’re doing very well compared to other countries, especially when it comes to safety and access,” said Charlebois. 

“If you have a food insecure population, civil unrest is more likely, tensions, and political instability in different regions become more of a possibility.” 

As a country, access to affordable energy is key as well, he said.  

“The food industry highly depends on energy sources and of course food is energy. More and more we’re seeing a convergence of the two worlds – food and energy… It forces the food sector to play a much larger role in the energy agenda of a country like Canada.” 

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Agriculture

Farming group accuses Canadian gov’t of trying to blame agriculture for ‘climate change’

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From LifeSiteNews

By Anthony Murdoch

Grain Farmers of Ontario chairman Jeff Harrison contends that the government’s goal of reducing emissions is not realistic and that the ‘vilification strategy’ is causing more consternation for farmers.

One of Canada’s largest farming groups has said the Liberal federal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is directly going after farmers via a “vilification strategy” under the guise of “climate change” and that a recent Auditor General report proves this to be true.

Grain Farmers of Ontario chairman Jeff Harrison recently said that the Trudeau government’s request to farmers to reduce emissions is not realistic and that it only creates more issues for Canadian farmers.

“Painting this climate picture as the fault of agriculture, it vilifies farmers,” said Harrison, noting it’s a “vilification strategy” to pin the blame on farmers.

“It’s part of the added stress on farmers that they are expected to do the unachievable. They’re expected to solve a problem that they didn’t necessarily create,” he observed.

Harrison’s comments were made after a recent Auditor General report titled “Agriculture and Climate Change Mitigation” picked to pieces the Trudeau government’s voluntary 30 percent emission reduction target by 2030 through curbing fertilizer use for farmers.

The United Nations has declared a war on nitrogen, claiming its use must be slowed as it is “one of the most important pollution issues facing humans.”

However, nitrogen, which is found in fertilizers, makes up about 70 percent of Earth’s air and is essential for plants.

The Auditor General report noted that there is widespread mismanagement along with a lack of transparency from the federal programs. Notably, there was a lack of consultation with stakeholders in the farming industry, as well as farming associations, before the government put in place random fertilizer emission reduction targets.

Harrison noted that such reduction targets are “unachievable targets and unrealistic goals,” adding that such targets “p—– me off, to be honest.”

Farmers worldwide are facing increased pressure from governments and special interest groups linked to globalists organizations such as the World Economic Fourm to reduce fertilizer use. Indeed, as recently observed by Dr. Joseph Mercola with LifeSiteNews, the global push to get rid of farmers “from their land is being driven by NGOs, which are primarily funded by the government, making them government extensions.”

“The real agenda, however, may be traced back to the Club of Rome, a think tank that aligned with neo-malthusianism – the idea that an overly large population would decimate resources – and was intending to implement a global depopulation agenda,” Mercola wrote.

“Once the farmers are pushed out, globalists suggest eating bugs will protect the planet by eliminating the need for livestock, cutting down on agricultural land use and protecting the environment. The U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization also encourages the consumption of insects and insect-based foods, and the momentum to get farmers off their land is continuing to gain steam.”

Trudeau’s government is trying to force net-zero regulations on all Canadian provinces, notably on electricity generation, as early as 2035. The provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan are adamantly opposed to Trudeau’s 2035 goals.

The Trudeau government’s current environmental goals, which are in lockstep with the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, include phasing out coal-fired power plants, reducing fertilizer usage, and curbing natural gas use over the coming decades.

Pressure on farmers from Feds comes at same time they are dealing with higher suicide rates 

When it comes to Canada’s farmers, they have already been under pressure with increased costs of fuel, not to mention all basic goods and items needed to run a farm, thanks to high inflation due in part to federal overspending.

More concerningly, increased pressures on farmers to curtail fertilizer use, and thus be faced with lower yields, come at the same time that recent studies show suicidal thoughts among farmers at extremely elevated levels.

The 2022 study from Ontario’s University of Guelph found nearly one-third of farmers have “had thoughts of suicide in the last 12 months.” The numbers are more than two times above the general population of Canada.

According to the study, about three-quarters of participating farmers experience “moderate to high-stress and half experience anxiety or depression.”

Adding to their stress, on April 1, Canada’s carbon tax, which was introduced by the government of Trudeau in 2019, increased from $65 to $85 per tonne despite seven of 10 provincial premiers objecting to the increase, and 70% of Canadians saying they are against it.

Trudeau has remained adamant that he will not pause the hikes.

He has pitched his carbon tax as the best way to reduce so-called carbon emissions. However, the tax has added extra financial burdens on households despite hundreds of dollars of rebates per family.

To reach Trudeau’s goal of net zero by 2050, the carbon tax would have to balloon to $350 per tonne.

The reduction and eventual elimination of the use of so-called “fossil fuels” and a transition to unreliable “green” energy has been pushed by the World Economic Forum (WEF) – the globalist group behind the socialist “Great Reset” agenda in which Trudeau and some of his cabinet are involved.

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Agriculture

Bill C-282, now in the Senate, risks holding back other economic sectors and further burdening consumers

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From the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

By Sylvain Charlebois

Bill C-282 currently sits in the Canadian Senate and stands on the precipice of becoming law in a matter of weeks. Essentially, this bill seeks to bestow immunity upon supply management from any potential future trade negotiations without offering increased market access to potential trade partners.

In simpler terms, it risks holding all other economic sectors hostage solely to safeguard the interests of a small, privileged group of farmers. This is far from an optimal scenario, and the implications of this bill spell bad news for Canadians.

Supply management, which governs poultry, egg, and dairy production in Canada, has traditionally enabled us to fulfill our domestic needs. Under this system, farmers are allocated government-sanctioned quotas to produce food for the nation. At the same time, high tariffs are imposed on imports of items such as chicken, butter, yogurt, cheese, milk, and eggs. This model has been in place for over five decades, ostensibly to shield family farms from economic volatility.

However, despite the implementation of supply management, Canada has witnessed a comparable decline in the number of farms as the United States, where a national supply management scheme does not exist. Supply management has failed to preserve much of anything beyond enriching select agricultural sectors.

For instance, dairy farmers now possess quotas valued at over $25 billion while concurrently burdening dairy processors with the highest-priced industrial milk in the Western world. Recent data indicates a significant surge in prices at the grocery store, with yogurt prices alone soaring by over 30 percent since December 2023. This escalation is increasingly straining the budgets of many consumers.

It’s evident to those knowledgeable about the situation that the emergence of Bill C-282 should come as no surprise. Proponents of supply management exert considerable influence over politicians across party lines, compelling them to support this bill to safeguard the interests of less than one percent of our economy, much to the ignorance of most Canadians. In the last federal budget, the dairy industry alone received over $300 million in research funds, funds that arguably exceed their actual needs.

While Canada’s agricultural sector accounts for approximately seven percent of our GDP, supply-managed industries represent only a small fraction of that figure. Supply-managed farms represent about five percent of all farms in Canada. Forging trade agreements with key partners such as India, China, and the United Kingdom is imperative not only for sectors like automotive, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnology but for the vast majority of farms in livestock and grains to thrive and contribute to global welfare and prosperity. It is essential to recognize that Canada has much more to offer than merely self-sufficiency in food production.

Over time, the marketing boards overseeing quotas for farmers have amassed significant power and have proven themselves politically aggressive. They vehemently oppose any challenges to the existing system, targeting politicians, academics, and groups advocating for reform or abolition. Despite occasional resistance from MPs and Senators, no major political party has dared to question the disproportionate protection afforded to one sector over others. Strengthening our supply-managed sectors necessitates embracing competition, which can only serve to enhance their resilience and competitiveness.

A recent example of the consequences of protectionism is the United Kingdom’s decision to walk away from trade negotiations with Canada due to disagreements over access to our dairy market. Not only do many Canadians appreciate the quality of British cheese, but increased competition in the dairy section would also help drive prices down, a welcome relief given current economic challenges.

In the past decade, Canada has ratified trade agreements such as CUSMA, CETA, and CPTPP, all of which entailed breaches in our supply management regime. Despite initial concerns from farmers, particularly regarding the impact on poultry, eggs, and dairy, these sectors have fared well. A dairy farm in Ontario recently sold for a staggering $21.5 million in Oxford County. Claims of losses resulting from increased market access are often unfounded, as farmer boards simply adjust quotas when producers exit the industry.

In essence, Bill C-282 represents a misguided initiative driven by farmer boards capitalizing on the ignorance of urban residents and politicians regarding rural realities. Embracing further protectionism will not only harm consumers yearning for more competition at the grocery store but also impede the growth opportunities of various agricultural sectors striving to compete globally and stifle the expansion prospects of non-agricultural sectors seeking increased market access.

Dr. Sylvain Charlebois is senior director of the agri-food analytics lab and a professor in food distribution and policy at Dalhousie University.

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