Madam Speaker, it is great to be here tonight. The initial question I asked had to do with an agricultural issue, and I would like to continue along that theme.
The president of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association recently stated, “Absolutely we are unfairly targeted because we are a primary producer have no way of dealing with the carbon tax.... It is a pure cost to us, and there isn’t really a way for us to become more efficient.”
That is the problem our agriculture producers face. It is not only the carbon tax, but also the carbon tax that is applied to truckers, to rail and to the moorage of the ships parked in the harbour waiting to be loaded. All of those taxes are downloaded back to the primary producer, the farmer, the agricultural producer, who has no way to recover against those costs.
Recently, there was a 25% increase in the carbon tax. That is a huge add-on to our agricultural producers. To get specific, in my riding, where we have huge irrigation districts, this is a cost that affects that irrigation. It is millions of dollars if we look at all of the irrigation districts, but particularly for the four largest ones in my riding, it is a significant cost. This is money that leaves the communities and the producers and is not returned in a rebate. That is the percentage that is not returned, the millions of dollars paid to provide that irrigation.
As well, 4% of the arable land in Alberta produces 29% of the agricultural production of the GDP in Alberta, which is huge, but their increased costs are also huge.
We have the most significantly efficient high-producing agricultural producers in Canada, but what they do not get credit for is the 384 billion tonnes of carbon they store in the soil. They use practices that keep improving the storage of carbon, but they get no credit for it.
A private member's bill from a member in our caucus, Bill C-234, is moving forward on exempting farm fuels from the carbon tax. That would be the first step.
Then we get to the issue of fertilizer. Agricultural producers work very hard on the four Rs: right source, right rain, right time and right place. They are getting incredibly efficient at it. The fertilizer industry contributes $23 billion annually to Canada's economy. That is 76,000 jobs. Now the government is talking about reducing the use of fertilizer by 30%, without a benchmark. Farmers do not want to buy fertilizer that is not needed. It is very expensive and harder to get.
Agriculture employs 2.1 million people and generates $139 billion of Canada's GDP. By continuing to go after those things that increase production, which we are going to need in this world, Canadian farmers, who are the most efficient, the best equipped and the best at it, will not be supported by this, which is a challenge for the agricultural producers in our country.