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Farmers Need Fertilizer: Farmer Concerns About Supply, Prices, and Tariffs Remain Roadblocks to Spring Planting

Guelph, ON – March 15, 2023 – Grain Farmers of Ontario, the province’s largest commodity organization, representing Ontario’s 28,000 barley, corn, oat, soybean and wheat farmers, continues to press the Canadian government for information on how money collected via tariffs on fertilizers will be returned to farmers, when tariffs will be removed, and how the government will ensure access to fertilizer for the coming year and beyond.

In a recent RealAgriStudies survey commissioned by Grain Farmers of Ontario, over half the farmers surveyed report being asked to pay a surcharge on fertilizer, which most attributed to the tariff on fertilizer. For the 2022 growing season, more than one in six farmers surveyed experienced a fertilizer supply shortage.

“Farmers work on very thin margins for the businesses we run that support our families. We need to produce an abundant, healthy crop and to do that, and we need to provide plants with nutrients. We are now over one year into the tariffs on fertilizer that were downloaded as a cost to farmers. We are the only G7 country to keep fertilizer tariffs as other countries prioritized food production. While we are encouraged by the federal government’s commitment to return fertilizer tariff money, we want to re-state that the money needs to be returned to the farmers who paid the cost,” said Brendan Byrne, Chair, Grain Farmers of Ontario.

The recent House of Commons Finance Committee pre-budget report  holds some hope with recommendations for a food security program to support producers who were negatively impacted by federal government-imposed tariffs on imported Russian fertilizer. The report also calls for a special assistance program specific to the agricultural sector to mitigate the impact of inflation on the financial health of agricultural businesses.

“This is a good indicator that Members of Parliament from all parties understand the hardships these tariffs have created and the impact of inflation on the rising costs of inputs and equipment. We hope that any new programs address the needs of individual farmers who had to make the tough choices and who took the risk to produce crops despite these increased costs,” said Crosby Devitt, CEO, Grain Farmers of Ontario.

Additional findings from the RealAgriStudies survey include:

  • Approximately half of farmers indicated that they used less fertilizer in 2022 because of the increased price of fertilizer
  • 25 per cent indicated they made changes to their crop rotation
    • 25 per cent of farmers indicated they will be making changes to their 2023 crop rotation, with over half indicating a likelihood they will grow more soybeans
  • 17 per cent of farmers have indicated their retailer has notified them of potential fertilizer shortages

Grain farmers are not alone in calling on government to put food security first and remove unnecessary cost barriers to crop inputs such as fertilizer. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has also called on governments around the world to: remove barriers to “avert a global food crisis and ensure food security.” The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has stated that commercial fertilizer is directly responsible for approximately 60 per cent of total world food production and that without commercial fertilizers, global food security would become considerably harder to attain, especially with a growing population.

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Victoria Berry, Communications