Farm-based greenhouse gas emissions have increased by more than 30 per cent since 1990, and nitrogen fertilizer is the main reason, according to a report the National Farmers Union has prepared to present to the federal government.
Commercial nitrogen applications have almost doubled since 2006 and in Saskatchewan increased four-fold.
Darrin Qualman, NFU Director of Climate Crisis Policy and Action, said “these upward trends in emissions from agriculture and fertilizer are incompatible with Canada’s commitment to reduce economy-wide emissions by 40 per cent by 2030."
But the NFU report has no bright ideas about what can and should be done by farmers.
“Contrary to rhetoric from some, governments are not proposing bans or forced reductions; governments are using incentives and cost-sharing programs to get farmers onside with voluntary efficiency measures and rate reductions,” the report said.
“Federal and provincial governments have allocated hundreds-of-millions of dollars to fund these voluntary cost-share programs. And as governments help farmers use fertilizer more efficiently, farmers’ costs can go down and their margins can go up.”
“Defending fertilizer is not the same as defending farmers.
“Fertilizer companies prosper when they sell as much as possible. Farmers prosper when they use only as much as necessary,” the report said.
The report took a familiar NFU swipe at the few fertilizer companies that dominate the sector and called for greater competition.
The NFU report contrasts with most other farm organizations that have expressed alarm over the federal government’s call to reduce fertilizer contributions to greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent by 2030.