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Aid to Ukraine “on the backs” of farmers

Canada’s finance minister announced, as he drove through Paris on Tuesday, with great fanfare $115 million To help Ukraine rebuild its power grid.

This money will come from customs fees 35% imposed by Canada on imports from Russia and Belarus.

However, it turns out that Canadian farmers will indirectly and in spite of themselves finance a significant part of this amount. Ottawa estimates customs duties collected on Russian and Belarusian fertilizers at about $34.1 million since imposing its sanctions. This is 30% of the 115 million pledged last Tuesday.

Farmers feel that this money has gone straight out of their pockets.

They have nothing against sanctions against Russia or helping Ukraine, But we can’t do that on the backs of producersconfirms the president of the Union of Agricultural Producers (UPA) of Quebec, Martin Caron.

She was the deputy prime minister of Canada during her visit to Paris on December 13, during which aid to Ukraine was announced.

Photo: Associated Press/Louis Jolly

Farmers in Quebec and the Atlantic region were surprised and hit hard (A new window) Last March when Canada announced its sanctions regime.

In eastern Canada, farmers rely heavily on nitrogen fertilizers from Russia and Belarus. They were already bought when the ax fell.

We were taken hostageMartin Caron recalls. And these 35% costs had to be paid knowing that the cost of fertilizers had doubled.

head of theUPA indicates that producers in eastern Canada are excluded from these punitive measures. Western farmers had access to other sources of supply, while those in the United States did not have to pay any tariffs.

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L’UPA A special compensation program for eastern farmers is being sought from the federal government.

We need much more support, because this has had major impacts on our business, knowing that we are the only ones in America who have had to pay these costs. »

Quote from Martin Caron, President of the Agricultural Producers Union
White powder mountains.

Farmers in eastern Canada depend on nitrogen fertilizers from Russia.

Photo: Radio Canada/Denise Babin

the door is open

It seems that the Minister of Finance has listened to their call. I completely understand the situation and it is not the fault of these agricultural producersadmitted to a scrum in Ottawa on Thursday.

the door is open For compensation, Chrystia Vreeland asserts. According to our information, Ottawa intends to return the full amount of 34.1 million to the affected farmers in eastern Canada. However, the way to get there is complicated.

Agricultural producers are seeking direct compensation, while Ottawa is more interested in disbursing financial assistance through existing programs. Discussions are ongoing with the office of the Minister of Agriculture, Marie-Claude Bibeau.

This is work that must be done in close cooperation with agricultural producers. The will is on our side. »

Quote from Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister of Canada

However, Minister Freeland did not set a deadline.

Farmers are demanding answers as soon as possible, because it is already time to buy fertilizer for the next harvest.

To accommodate rising input costs, Ottawa has already modified its prepayment program. The value of the reduced interest charges is estimated at $69 million over two years for farmers.

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Canada is the only G7 country that imposes tariffs on Russian fertilizers. The United Nations Secretary-General discourages this practice in order to avoid exacerbating the global food crisis.

In spite of everything, Minister Freeland wants to keep the sanctions regime in place. Russia does not and should not enjoy privileges in international trade with CanadaI argued.