Madam Speaker, likewise, I am hopeful that the government will recognize the urgent need to sit down with beef and pork producers and processors to find actionable solutions to solve the processing capacity bottleneck, especially in Ontario.
Aside from the immediate reduction in food output, many farmers are worried that they will be pushed out of business if obstacles are not immediately removed. However, the message that was sent to farmers, with the pennies-on-the-dollar COVID-19 relief package, not only did not convey a sense of urgency, but proved yet again that farmers are not valued by the government.
Canada's farmers are some of the hardest working people I have ever met. They are proud people and would never ask for a handout, but during this pandemic they needed a hand-up. Existing programs are not enough. Neither was the so-called relief package, which was a drop in the bucket of what was required. Besides, a big chunk of that was not new money; it had already been budgeted under the existing AgriRecovery envelope prior to the pandemic. Family farms without a business account were not even able to take advantage of the Canada emergency business account loans when they needed them the most. The bottom line is the government was not there for our farmers while they were doing the incredible work of overcoming challenges to feed Canadians.
Unfortunately, the government's relationship with farmers does not stop with inaction. It is one thing to not help our farmers amid external forces of instability, but it is another thing entirely to have our government choose to inflict direct harm with destabilizing policies.
It is troubling that the government continues to add rather than remove obstacles with punitive schemes such as the carbon tax. The carbon tax is already a major cost for grain farmers. It is estimated that it will reduce their income by about 12% by 2022. There are only two options for drying grain: natural gas or propane. There are no alternatives. Whether they are from drying grain or heating barns, these costs are significantly adding up, and things will continue costing more and more, as the tax is scheduled to continue going up.
However, the ultimate impact of trying to phase out oil through these schemes, whether it punishes consumers or producers, is the inevitable rising costs of Canadian goods. This will make it impossible for our farmers to compete against foreign producers that are not subjected to these costs.
How many farmers will have to go out of business if they are stifled from being able to compete? The availability of food on our shelves today is not an accurate picture of tomorrow's food security. It is paramount that the government recognizes the consequences of the policies that push farmers out of business, because if the can is kicked down the road, the government will only have itself to blame for a failure to act proactively to secure our food supply.
Rural Canadians do not feel represented by the government. That is because they are not. It is, however, the responsibility of the government to at least make an effort to govern on behalf of all Canadians. If the Liberals did, they would not only talk about connecting rural Canadians to high-speed broadband, as they have for the last months and years, but would actually do it. They would recognize the amount of vetting that law-abiding firearms owners go through to get their licences and what hunting and sport shooting represents to our heritage, traditions and community. Likewise, they would understand just how many hoops farmers have to jump through and what it feels like to have a government this far removed from the issues that impact their livelihoods.
I urge the government to self-reflect and consider the long-term ramifications of pushing farmers away from doing what they love to do. I sincerely hope that upon reflection we can all come to the common understanding that the neglect of our agriculture sector and of rural Canadians—