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Farmers blast feds for 'uninformed' fertilizer emissions proposal


Farmers are fuming over a potential federal government plan to cut back on the amount of nitrogen Canada emits. 

Ottawa is proposing to cut 30 per cent of emissions from fertilizer by 2030 as part of its climate strategy. 

But farmers, ranchers and even two provincial governments say the impacts could be catastrophic. 

"We'd have to shift our operation pretty dramatically," cattle rancher Brad Osadczuk said. "We could either cut down production and cut down the amount of cattle that we run because we wouldn't be able to grow as much feed as we need, or we would have to cultivate and break up more native prairie, which is primarily what we graze on in this part of Alberta."

Producers across the province are sounding the alarm. Many believe the only way they can achieve the emissions target would be to shrink their output significantly. 

"(Federal politicians) are very uninformed," Osadczuk said. "It's a detriment to the food chain and the availability of food."

Governments in Alberta and Saskatchewan have spoken this week about the negative effects of any drastic changes. 

In fact, it's believed ranchers like Osadczuk would have it good compared to grain farmers. 

One report from Fertilizer Canada says if the plan is implemented, those producers would lose billions of dollars and hundreds of millions of metric tons of wheat, canola and corn. 

There's almost no doubt that would eventually trickle down to the kitchen table. 

"You're making farms less cost effective, essentially," food supply expert Sylvain Charlebois said. "If costs increase, they can't pass them along in processing or in distribution. That's the reality of farming."

Which could change prices in Canada -- and around the world. 

"It's not impossible to actually produce as much food (under the new proposal), but it's going to cost way more," Charlebois said.

And cost is already on the minds of farmers and ranchers. 

"If I could get away from using fertilizer, I would, because it's an expense," Osadczuk told CTV News. "We're almost efficient and responsible by default because it's too expensive to over-fertilize."

Many farmers would rather emissions targets be based on units of production.

The federal government will be accepting feedback on the idea until the end of August. It says as of now, no decisions are final. Top Stories

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