The federal government’s voluntary 30 percent emissions reduction target for fertilizers will not become mandatory in the future, says the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC).
“The objective of the national target for fertilizers is to reduce emissions, not to establish a mandatory reduction in fertilizer use,” wrote the AAFC in an email to The Epoch Times.
“It is intended to be achieved while maintaining or improving yields,” said the AAFC. “The goal is to maximize efficiency, optimize fertilizer use, encourage innovation, and to work collaboratively with the agriculture sector.”
The Liberal government set a national nitrogen fertilizer emissions reduction target of 30 percent below 2020 levels in its latest climate plan, “A Healthy Environment and A Healthy Economy.”
Despite the net-zero goal being less than 20 years away, Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau maintains that all climate measures in the agricultural sector—particularly fertilizer reduction—will remain optional.
“We have always said that this is a voluntary target,” Bibeau said in an interview with the Western Standard. “We want to be ambitious because we have to move the needle. If we send the message that business as usual is good enough, it’s not.”
Bibeau added that there has been “misinformation” spreading about fertilizer reductions being forced in the future and said that the government’s goal is to reduce emissions “caused by fertilizer,” but not “the use of fertilizer itself.”
Conservative MP John Barlow, the shadow minister for agriculture, agri-food, and food security, said in a July tweet that the Trudeau government’s plan to reduce fertilizer emissions could lead to similar problems unfolding in countries like the Netherlands and Sri Lanka, where governments imposed mandatory fertilizer cutbacks.
“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,” Barlow said a video posted on Twitter on July 15.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), a business advocacy organization, called upon the Canadian government in a June 2022 report to keep the fertilizer reduction plan voluntary going forward.
“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,” said CFIB Senior Vice-President of National Affairs Corinne Pohlmann in a news release.
Taylor Brown, a CFIB policy analyst, told The Epoch Times in a previous interview that CFIB has been “reassured” by the federal government that fertilizer reductions would remain voluntary.
“They are focusing on emissions and not actual nitrogen fertilizer reduction,” she said. “However, we should be concerned that if farmers are forced to reduce their nitrogen fertilizer use, there will be a reduction in yield that will mean higher consumer costs.”