Alberta Agriculture and Forestry Minister Oneil Carlier rejects United Conservative Party estimates that Alberta’s carbon tax will cost farmers close to $200 million a year.
“I think they’ve taken data and they’ve kind of skewed it,” said Carlier in an interview on Monday.
UCP contends that Alberta’s 49,000 farms can expect to face upwards of $182 million in additional costs annually when the national carbon tax is implemented at $50 per tonne. The estimate was based on a federal Department of Agriculture document that says farmers in the West can each expect to see $3,705 in extra carbon tax-linked costs.
Carlier said the numbers do not take into account the province’s Climate Leadership Plan. Farm fuels and electricity are exempt from the levy and two-thirds of Alberta households will get a carbon levy rebate.
Opposition Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes and Drumheller-Stettler MLA Rick Strankman raised carbon levy concerns in a news release on Friday.
They charge that a farm fuel exemption “has done little for the escalating costs resulting from this ideological tax.
“The carbon tax imposed on Albertans is resulting in economic pain.”
In his travels around the province, Carlier said he is hearing buy-in from farmers, who are interested in reducing their environmental footprints.
“They want to know what they can do to lower their greenhouse gas emissions, knowing there’s often economic benefit to doing so as well.”
Last week, Carlier announced $81 million, including $14 million from the federal government, over four years to go towards expanded and new energy-efficiency programs to reduce emissions and energy bills.
UCP says the “vague promise” will not offset farm costs.
Carlier disagrees that the agriculture community will be hurt by the carbon tax. Through the government’s plan and farmers’ own actions the overall impact on the agriculture industry will be positive, he said.