The “Harvest From Hell” now has its own official website.
The term was coined last fall while Western Canadian farmers struggled with weather conditions to combine the 2019 crop. Some growers were not able to finish the harvest with an estimated two million metric tonnes of canola left to take off on the Prairies this spring.
Grain dryers have been busy over the fall and winter getting crops down to acceptable moisture contents. Farmers say the natural gas and propane used to dry grain should be exempt from the carbon tax.
The Grain Growers of Canada launched the new website at a news conference in Ottawa on Tuesday morning. It occurred on the same day as the introduction of a Conservative MP’s private member’s bill to amend the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act.
“This carbon tax has added another expense that farmers can’t absorb,” said Shane Stokke, a Watrous area farmer and vice-chair of the Grain Growers of Canada. “We can’t pass it on to the end-use customer and (drying) is needed to save our grain.”
Stokke has used his grain dryer for 16 of the last 17 harvests and considers it a key part of a modern farming operation.
“As farms grow and there is a greater variability in weather, grain drying is an extensive tool that is used now. The carbon tax has hit the grain drying operation right where it hurts,” Stokke said.
Stokke’s dryer runs on propane and he estimates there is an extra $70 or $80 in carbon tax every two weeks for a grain dryer that has been running since the first of October.
Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau has promised to take the issue to her cabinet colleagues if farmers can provide the numbers to back their position. The Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS) has released statistics, which are quoted on the new Grain Growers of Canada website.
The website was launched on the same day that an emergency debate on rail blockades was held in Parliament. The timing likely limited national media coverage of grain drying/carbon tax issue.