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Grain Farmers of Ontario: CFS misses the mark on biofuels


September 30, 2020
By Grain Farmers of Ontario

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Grain Farmers of Ontario, the province’s largest commodity organization, representing Ontario’s 28,000 barley, corn, oat, soybean and wheat farmers, has deep concerns about the current Clean Fuels Standard (CFS) proposed by the Canadian government, are opposed to the criteria for land use, and ask for transparency around carbon numbers and any certification processes.

The CFS currently contains restrictions on land use, which will discourage farmers from planting and growing biofuel crops. The restrictions do not take into account the sustainability efforts that farmers already take, or the competitive advantage that will now benefit other countries selling corn and soybeans into Canada for biofuels.

“Farmers today already use less land to grow more. Our farmer-members are constantly evolving their operations to be more sustainable, meaning we can help to provide the grains needed for true carbon emission reduction practices across the country in a sustainable, renewable way, but not if we are continually restricted by a government that is not making decisions based on scientific analysis,” said Markus Haerle, chair, Grain Farmers of Ontario.

Over the last 30 years, grain farmers have increased land use efficiency by 39 percent and reduced their climate impact by 45 percent in corn production alone.

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Grain farmers in Ontario produce most of Canada’s corn and soybeans – both important grains in ethanol and biodiesel production. Ethanol is proven to reduce carbon emissions by almost 40 per cent in vehicular emissions – one of the largest culprits of GHG. Any regulations that make it harder for farmers to produce crops for domestic biofuels use are actually detrimental to the goals of the CFS.

“Our growing practices have been assessed and deemed sustainable by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. We are shocked to see a regulation that will damage our ability to trade freely and negatively impact our own domestic markets. Instead of embracing the hard work farmers do to grow crops for the green economy, the proposed Clean Fuels Standard will penalize farmers,” Haerle continued. “The potential impacts to the rural communities we farm in, and support, are very concerning to us.”

The CFS puts needless regulatory burden on farmers and the important role that Ontario-grown corn and locally produced ethanol plays in reducing carbon emissions. The CFS also diminishes the potential of Ontario agriculture in assisting with a post-COVID economic recovery.

Grain Farmers of Ontario urges the government to exclude the land use criteria in the CFS as unnecessary red tape that will negatively impact the ability of Ontario farmers to drive ethanol production, which ignores the tremendous work that farmers have done and continue to do to improve their environmental footprint.