Home WORLD AMERICA Tariffs on Russian fertilizers: “We penalize ourselves! »

Tariffs on Russian fertilizers: “We penalize ourselves! »

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Farmer Marcel Michaud digs into the ground with his hands to show us big potatoes soon to be harvested. Spring got off to a bad start. In our area, we had heavy rain, explains the owner of GAM farms in New Brunswick. But this year, it’s not just the weather conditions and fuel prices that are worrying him.

Its fertilizer bill doubled in 2022. The pandemic has caused problems in supply chains. The war in Ukraine and the shortage of natural gas, which intervenes in the preparation of fertilizers, have affected production on the European continent.

The Trudeau government is also contributing in its own way to the increase in prices. Ottawa imposed 35% tariffs on all products from Russia, including nitrogen fertilizers. Before the tariffs were imposed, 85 to 90 percent of the fertilizer used in eastern Canada came from Russia, according to the industry.

The shock is brutal.

In agriculture, when you have curve bales like that, it doesn’t go well. »

A quote from Marcel Michaud, potato farmer in New Brunswick.

The Union of Agricultural Producers (UPA) is calling for the lifting of tariffs. The Canadian government is on the wrong trackaccording to Charles-Félix Ross, the director general of the UPA.

A decision to tax fertilizers is to tax foodunderlines Mr. Ross.

Canada is the only G7 country to impose sanctions on fertilizers from Russia. Even the UN Secretary General discourages the imposition of sanctions on Russian fertilizers and its ingredients like ammonia, to avert the global food crisis.

In 2022, there is a real risk of running out of food. It is absolutely essential to remove the barriers to Russian fertilizer exports. »

A quote from Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, on September 14.

In principle, farmer Marcel Michaud has nothing against the sanctions regime against Russia, as long as he does not find himself in a disadvantageous position vis-à-vis his American competitors. We penalize ourselves! he declares.

Freeland stands firm

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland does not flinch. Russia deserves to be in the same category as North Koreashe said last week.

Canada stripped Russia of its preferred trading partner status in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine and imposed 35% tariffs on all imports from there. This tough sanctions regime is not about to change, according to the minister.

All Canadians support a strong sanctions regime against Russia, especially now. »

A quote from Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Finance of Canada.
Justin Trudeau and Chrystia Freeland walk with a smile.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – seen here with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland – at the Liberal Caucus Retreat in Saint Andrews, New Brunswick.

Photo: The Canadian Press/Darren Calabrese

Minister Freeland reminds Western sanctions regime has consequences much, much, much more serious for European countries than for Canada.

However, according to our information, some ministers around Justin Trudeau’s cabinet table disagree and believe that Canadian fertilizer tariffs are unfair to farmers here.

For the moment, the Prime Minister is open to specific aid measures, without specifying which ones. We understand to what extent the production costs, the costs for our farmers have increased. It’s a reality around the world, and we’re going to be there with measures to help them.Justin Trudeau said last week on the sidelines of his party’s caucus in New Brunswick.

So far, the Government of Canada has been content to enhance its advance payment program to help farmers cover their costs while they wait to sell their products. The interest-free advance limit has been increased for the 2022 and 2023 seasons.

What alternative?

In preparation for the upcoming harvest season, the agriculture industry needs to realign its sourcing strategy, and fast.

The Sollio group, the largest agricultural cooperative in Canada, can turn to Western Canada for certain fertilizers such as potash, but this is not enough to meet all needs. Moreover, transport by train is more expensive than by ship.

Mountains of white powder.

Reserves of urea, a nitrogen fertilizer, in the warehouses of the Sollio cooperative group on the South Shore of Montreal.

Photo: TurnedNews.com / Denis Babin

Sollio intends to look to countries like Algeria and Egypt, for example, ahead of the next season. While the price of some products doubled in 2022, it could still jump 25-50% next year.

Casper Kaastra, CEO of Sollio Agriculture, does not dare to draw a final line on Russia as a source of nitrogen fertilizer supply.

We are looking to other countries, but one thing is certain, we cannot afford a food crisis in eastern Canada, so we have to keep our options open.explains Mr. Kaastra.

Casper Kaastra wearing a construction jacket outside agricultural facilities.

Casper Kaastra, CEO of Sollio Agriculture

Photo: TurnedNews.com / Denis Babin

Sollio is also looking for long-term solutions to reduce, for example, the amount of fertilizer needed in the fields. The cooperative group seeks in particular to develop new coatings for the fertilizer so that the nutrients are deployed at the right time in the soil. That’s a good example of where we can do more with less.explains Casper Kaastra.

Marcel Michaud is testing potato varieties that require less water and fertilizer. However, this selection process takes years and offers no immediate solution to rising fertilizer prices.

With his feet between two rows of potatoes, the farmer gazes uncertainly at the horizon.: \”I can’t take any more, I’m going to give up\”. young people say: \”I’m not taking over, I don’t need this\”. It’s a shame”,”text”:”Some people say: \”I can’t take any more, I’m going to give up\”. Young people say: “I’m not taking over, I don’t need this”. It’s a pity”}}”>There are people who say, “I can’t take any more, I’m going to give up”. Young people say: “I’m not taking over, I don’t need that”. That’s a shameexplains Marcel Michaud, who is worried about the next generation in the agricultural sector.

For him, it is impossible to get rid of this impression that, regardless of his efforts and the quality of his land, the fruit of his labor escapes him more and more.

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