The National Farmers Union Region 6 Convention is taking place this week.
The event kicked off with Registration and keynote speaker Researcher Darrin Qualman who talked about “Farm Income, Climate and Carbon Taxes”.
He says farmers are in a really important situation here, they are vulnerable to climate change but at the same time are also part of the economy that produces emissions:
“Fertilizer is a great example, a lot of the agricultural emissions are really a function of how much fertilizer is being used. So, I think in order to get the lower emissions we’ll have to look at lower input systems. While a lot of farmers are going to be concerned about that, it’s actually a really great opportunity because high input use is also leading to low net farm income. As we reduce input use we can reduce emissions and we can increase net farm income.”
Qualman says when you look at farm income from about the 1940’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s; farmers were keeping about 40 to 50% of the revenue they generated, now their keeping about 6%.
“What’s happening is input supply companies are taking 94 cents out of every dollar that farmers generate. Farmers are handing that over when they buy fertilizer, when they buy chemical, when they buy seeds, when they buy that very high-cost equipment. What’s happening is over-dependence on inputs is causing a farm income crisis. It’s causing a lot of emissions that are fueling the climate crisis.”
He notes as we move forward in order to solve the climate crisis we are going to have to reduce emissions; that means lower input use which can be good news for farmers because it could mean higher net farm income.
He says over the next century we are on track for 6.4 degrees of warming in Saskatchewan.
He feels we need to meet and set more ambitious targets and act faster to reduce emissions and get on top of climate change.
He thinks putting a small carbon tax on things like fuel and inputs would be one step, but it needs to be fully refundable to farmers.