(Denfield) The National Farmers Union – Ontario (NFU-O) would like to challenge the statement recently attributed to Dianne Saxe, Ontario’s new Environmental Commissioner (ECO), in which she called for an end to diesel fuel subsidies, including for farm fuel. Coloured diesel for agriculture is priced lower because it is taxed less – not because it is subsidized. The additional fuel tax the ECO would have farmers pay is used for building and maintaining provincial transportation infrastructure. Local roads are already covered by municipal taxes. Farm vehicles, such as tractors, are primarily used in private farm fields for food production, so the fuel used in them should not be taxed to pay for the costs due to passenger cars and trucks being driven on highways.
“The image that Commissioner Saxe paints of a farmer becoming rich off of subsidized coloured diesel is patently absurd,” said Emery Huszka, NFU-O Regional Council. “If the government takes Saxe’s advice and adds more tax onto farm families it should be called what it is – a money grab at the expense of farmers. It should not be confused with eliminating a subsidy.”
Karen Eatwell, NFU-O President added, “If the fuel tax system needs to be altered to address climate change, the Commissioner should develop a detailed plan instead of making glib statements that, if acted upon, would seriously harm the livelihoods of Ontario farmers. Should these changes be enacted, Ontario would not be eliminating a subsidy but rather adding taxes to farm families who produce food for all of this province’s eaters.”
According to Statistics Canada, farmers are also found in low-income groups. Thus, the NFU-O urges Saxe and the Province to work with food-producing families to promote environmental and economic sustainability in agriculture. A discussion about intelligent fuel options may be warranted, but raising the cost of diesel fuel needed to run farm equipment, as Saxe suggests, threatens every farm family’s ability to survive financially, as well as every Ontario family’s right to access affordable local food.
“Farm families are dedicated to their land and historically have been the best stewards in preserving it for the next generation,” Eatwell said. “The NFU-O is committed to looking at ways agriculture can mitigate climate change. We would welcome the chance to talk with the Commissioner about how this can happen in ways that keep farmers economically sustainable.”
For more information contact:
Karen Eatwell, NFU-O President/NFU Region 3 Coordinator: (519) 232-4105; firstname.lastname@example.org
Emery Huszka, NFU-O Regional Council: (519) 692-4892; email@example.com