Paying the Price

Paying the Price

Tyson Rudolf

Over the years more awareness, and legislation has emerged to deal

with the pressing issue of climate change in Canada. Throughout this

process we saw the introduction of our country’s first national carbon

tax in 2018 by the Liberal Government. Putting a dollar value on the

tons of greenhouse gases being emitted by an average citizen, big

business, and even farmers. The question one must ask is how does

something such as the carbon tax affect an everyday farmer, but also

the agricultural industry in Alberta as a whole? Good Afternoon

Madam Chairperson, Honourable Judges, Friends, Family, and Fellow

4-H members.

Before one can criticize or praise any type of legislation like the

carbon tax you need to understand what it is, and how it works. The

government sets a price that emitters must pay for each ton of

greenhouse gas emissions they emit. Businesses and consumers will

then take steps, such as switching fuels or adopting new technologies,

to reduce their emissions to avoid paying the tax.

This left many across the country feeling animosity towards the

government for rolling out such a substantial tax in such a short

period of time. We have seen, and continue to see these frustrations

amongst many farmers, and other contributors to the agricultural

industry. It is important to consider the factors that are causing

these feelings, but also some of the positive factors the carbon tax

has brought about.

First we must consider the negative impacts on the agricultural

industry in Alberta, ranging from shrinking profits, to being unfair on

the global stage. The most obvious negative impact of the carbon tax

is shrinking the profit margins of Alberta farmers. It is clear that the

price of inputs needed to operate their business from seed and crop

protection products, to parts, machinery, and shipping has gone up. All

of these products and services, which are costing more, are directly

passed down to the farmer. Agriculture is typically a low-margin

business, and since producers don’t set their prices, they can’t pass

along those increased costs.

Secondly, the carbon tax has brought about a very dramatic global

disadvantage. On a global scale, Canada is much farther ahead in

terms of slowing climate change, and putting in place legislation for a

more sustainable future. But when something such as the carbon tax is

imposed upon our agricultural industry it dramatically harms

competitiveness on the markets with other power house countries

such as India and China who have no such rules. Many have no plans at

all to implement carbon pricing, or climate change policies. Therefore

anything that requires commercial transportation will suffer the

carbon tax price, putting Alberta farmers at a huge disadvantage

against their global competitors.

Lastly it is widely regarded Alberta farmers are doing their part in

protecting our natural environments. Soil protection and the climate

has been a concern for the Alberta farming industry for several

years. Many farms already utilize environmental practices like zero-till

seeding. Making a clear and conscious effort to be as clean and energy

efficient as possible. I believe this mentality is influenced by our

respect for the land, and a hope for our traditional farming practices

to continue for generations to come. Overall, Alberta farmers feel

that a carbon tax on their business is unfair punishment.

Pertaining to every issue we must acknowledge the other side to the

story, and in this case, it’s the positive influences the carbon tax has

had on our agricultural industry. I believe you have to reflect on its

purpose, using a carbon tax is one of the most powerful incentives

that governments have to encourage big name companies, households,

and farmers to pollute less, invest in cleaner technologies, and adopt

greener practices. The premise of the tax is reasonable and

purposeful, and I am a supporter of what it is doing to promote and

protect our Alberta environment.

Without a sustainable and well taken care of environment, what type

of agricultural industry would we have in the future? With the recent

ruling of the Federal Carbon Tax being constitutional by the Supreme

Court I hope this will encourage our provincial government to take this

matter into their own hands and develop a carbon pricing system in our

province. This way we can put Alberta first, and we can put our

agricultural industry first, protecting and investing in it.

The carbon tax has been a difficult hurdle for Alberta’s agricultural

industry, we have seen decreasing profit margins, a global

disadvantage, as well, feelings of resentment since we have been

trying to do our best for our environment. Although I hope for these

setbacks to be temporary, and I hope to see change. The tax may

seem severe for our integral agricultural industry, but I believe it will

influence a better and greener world for everyone. When looking to

our future this tax will become part of our lives, and drive us to be

the best producer, best farmer, and the best agricultural industry

possible. To quote the Dalai Lama, “It is our collective and individual

responsibility… To preserve and tend to the world in which we all live


This is Tyson Rudolf’s award winning 4-H speech. Related article online and in VNA’s print edition.