Do carbon and manure go hand in hand?

Siemens Says – Two events happened this past week that I want to comment on in this column; Manitoba’s carbon tax proposal and the hearings at the Manitoba Legislature on cleaning up regulations.

When I look at both those events, the outcomes and results they almost appear to be an oxymoron. More on that later.  

A tax is a tax is a tax = Carbon Tax is how I sized up the Made-in-Manitoba plan to address climate change – will protect the environment, grow the economy said, Premier Brian Pallister. Pallister and his advisors I guess, believe that if you add five cents to a liter of gas, no one will notice – At the same time they believe, I think, this extra tax will get people to cut back their driving, save the environment and grow the economy.

I have no problem with his vision of pure Motherhood, to make Manitoba the cleanest, greenest and most climate-resilient province in Canada.

I get the point that the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau is forcing the provinces to incorporate a carbon tax, to their making and implementation. I don’t get the point that it will save the environment while growing the economy – Nope because it is an outright tax grab plain and simple.

The fallacy of taking money from one consumer and putting it into the next consumer’s pocket will somehow save the environment pales the imagination.

I remember when my father tilled the fields four and five times in fall, a few times in spring, to get the kind of crop he desired and to keeps the weeds from consuming that desired crop. I also remember the pesticides and herbicides, seed, seed treatments, and production practices we used in the 50’s, 80’s, 70’s, and even early 80’s until he passed away. They weren’t what we have today in those categories, but they were the best that we had.

Guess what? All that changed throughout the 80’s 90’s, and now through the end of 2017, going into 2018. And most if not all changed for the better.

That is why I take exception to the fact we will do even a better job of cleaning up the environment, the soils, the waterways by merely adding a carbon tax.  Which, I think will multiply through the system, not as economic growth, but as added costs to doing business, primarily as we compete with our neighbours to the south.     

The climate and green plan was developed through the direct input of Manitobans, drawing from more than a year of consultations with environmental, business, and expert stakeholders.

According to the Pallister announcement, and he owns it plain and simple, the plan sets out a made-in-Manitoba approach to carbon pricing with a low and level price of  $25 per tonne beginning during 2018.  

It is half the amount mandated [forced] by the federal government, and it will give Manitoba the second-lowest carbon price in Canada by 2022.

I will have more details next time where I sit down with two farmers who will tell me exactly how they think this will affect farmers in Manitoba and how it will increase the cost of doing business.

Andrew Dickson, the General Manager of Manitoba Pork, said even with changes proposed under the provincial government’s ‘Red Tape Reduction and Government Efficiency Act,’ Manitoba’s pork industry will continue to be subject to some of the strictest environmental regulations anywhere.

Dickson said at the public hearings held last week into Bill 24, opponents of the hog industry have suggested changes proposed under the bill will spell disaster for the environment and Lake Winnipeg but the exact opposite is the truth.

I digress. The carbon tax is to clean up the environment and cause the economy to grow. Here the government is to loosen the regulations, or at least how they interpret the ones put in place by the previous government to restrict the hog industry and protect the environment.

Dickson said the environmental regulations are all still in place, strengthened and modernized. The hog industry does not pollute Lake Winnipeg. The laws deal with the issue of manure.

“Operators incorporate manure into the soil as a nutrient for plant growth, applied as a suitable nutrient for plant growth, and runoff is completely illegal,” he said. “Is there a problem with Lake Winnipeg? Yes. Do we all need to do something about reducing the amount of phosphorus we use in our businesses? Yes. And the industry is doing lots in that regard.”

Dickson said all Manitoba pork operations are subject to audit, they must file annual manure management plans and base their manure application on yearly crop growth.