One Western Canadian agriculture group is blasting the federal Liberals for holding the sector hostage by dictating the allocation of research funding towards climate and social causes to the detriment of other priorities.
According to Western Canadian Wheat Growers Director and Western Grains Research Foundation Board Member Kenton Possberg, moving funding into federal priorities means the industry is falling behind in other vital areas.
“The industry used to be able to dictate what those research priorities were, and the federal government was kind of hands off,” Possberg told The Western Producer.
“They’re sort of holding the industry hostage. Saying you guys can choose what you want to do for some of these projects, but unless 30% is here and 20% is here (for) societal or climate change, then you don’t get anything,” he continued.
“Having to position some of the funds and move it towards some of these other federal government interests, that’s going to take away from… projects we feel really need to get done.”
The Trudeau Government has used the AgriScience program to distributed funding for priorities such as climate change and societal changes.
“The Cluster consists of research activities in each of the AgriScience program priority areas: Climate Change & Environment, Economic Growth & Development, and Sector Resilience & Societal Changes,” an Agriculture Canada news release explained.
According to Possberg, while the federal government has authority to dictate where federal funds are distributed it shouldn’t force the issue when partnering with agriculture commodity groups.
“If the federal government thinks it is that high of a priority and that high of a societal need, then the federal government should be funding those projects — 100 percent. They shouldn’t be holding the industry back,” said Possberg.
Farmers groups have also challenged the federal government’s 30% fertilizer emission reduction target.
A recent report by the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy found that the federal target was impossible without “drastic reduction” in nitrogen fertilizer use – a reduction which farmers in Western Canada say is impossible without significantly impacting yields.
“The proposed target (is) unachievable without drastic reductions in nitrogen fertilizer use,” wrote the report’s authors.
“Given the variation in climate and production across the country, a one size fits all approach is unlikely to be effective. Provincial governments and organizations should be encouraged to develop regional solutions to meet national objectives, with the (federal government) providing coordination and support.”