Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
My name is Don McCabe. I'm actually a farmer from southwestern Ontario. I have an opportunity here today to bring agriculture's voice to this table. I think it's a very important time for agriculture to be appropriately recognized in these negotiations of policy and moves as we go forward.
I think it's very important that the definition of farmer be looked at in possibly the following manner. Farmers today are more managers of carbon and nitrogen cycles who are producing highest-quality starch, oil, fuel, fibre, and food for worldwide consumers. Therefore, if you're going to start looking how you're going to impact that flow of carbon, there's only one carbon atom on the periodic table, and I happen to be growing green ones. We deal in biological cycles. Those biological cycles are non-source issues.
I am in no position to take on further regulation on a non-point-source pollutant because, as the agriculture sector impacts of any sort of policy would come down, as we've had from initial analysis that we've done once upon a time, we buy it retail, we sell it wholesale, and we pay the trucking both ways. We have no room to move. Therefore, any increased costs for electricity, chemicals, fuel, fertilizer, or lime will be the largest increase that any sector will face.
By the same token, on the other side of the coin, we are very, very much looking for the opportunity to participate in this initiative as a voluntary opportunity for agriculture to establish a new revenue stream in the form of environmental goods and services or offsets.
In Canadian agriculture—according to Environment Canada, the last time I saw the numbers—we're roughly about 8.3% or 8.6% of the issue, according to the national inventory. I round that to 10% for easier figuring. I bring to the committee today the statement that agriculture will be 20% of the solution in the longer term, provided we get the rules right, and we can be higher if the rules are right.
The rules for us mean that mitigation is adaptation. I know this bill is looking at a long-term framework. But for agriculture, mitigation is adaptation. Right now I'm adapting to a beautiful September after a lousy summer that allowed the harvest of soybeans to extend into longer periods. I'm pretty sure I've got some corn that's going to have birthdays out there into May of 2010 for harvest. It's a similar picture that's unfolding across the country. We have grain still standing and oil seeds still standing in the west and issues in the east also. That is the issue of climate change.
I'm willing as a farmer to take on that risk and do that as my job description. What I'm not willing to take on is unneeded and unheeded policy that does not recognize the special needs of agriculture when we can bring you the opportunities to move forward. So as a biological system you have only two tools that we've seen that you can really look at in managing these issues as you move forward. One is to offer up a cap and trade with offsets system that we would be prepared to work with, from a 1990 baseline, and the Soil Conservation Council of Canada was willing to participate at that time. We are very much involved in wanting to have a cap-and-trade system recognized as we move forward.
The issue of a carbon tax is a complete non-starter for the agricultural sector. It's back to the issue that we have no room to move. Therefore, our carbon tax that's been applied within British Columbia has resulted in $10,000 being added to the average bill of a greenhouse operator in B.C. It means all the grain that comes out of the west and heads through that province to the port of Vancouver to reach worldwide markets has had a fuel surcharge placed on it within CN and CP. That's felt by the farmers of the west because CN and CP aren't taking that out of their bottom line. They're passing it back in the form of freight transfers to farmers.
Again, look at the cap-and-trade opportunity, because mitigation is adaptation for farmers. We very much have been a leader in having the recognition of agriculture sinks. This is an initiative that will be further pursued within Copenhagen, and agriculture hopefully will be recognized to be a solution as it leads. Canada needs to make sure our voice is heard, because we're the ones who have done the preliminary work and have the opportunity to further that along.
This brings us to the basic premise of research. It's research that has allowed us to get to this state. It is now research that is going to be necessary for us to be able to continue to lead in this vector. As a primary producer, I am benefiting from research today that was initiated ten years ago. I need to see that research continue now in an enhanced manner for Canada to maintain its leadership position in the agriculture sector.
Again, I come back to repeat one more time: Mitigation in agriculture is adaptation for the longer term. As we move forward here, agriculture will be able to assist. We will be able to assist, provided good policy is in place. I will take the risk of weather. I will take the risk of dealing with mother nature. What I will not stand for is the risk of bad policy that does not recognize the opportunities that I bring to the table.
Thank you. I look forward to your questions.