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Liberals offer “green shift” offsets for farmers

Sweetening the federal Liberals’ proposed “green shift” plan in anticipation of an election call, party leader Stephane Dion proposes to put farmers among the beneficiaries of $900 million in “green” incentives.

The Liberals’ proposed “green shift” environmental and economic plan will now include a $250 million Green Farms Fund, $400 million in emissions reduction credits and a $250 million Green Fisheries and Transportation Fund, Dion announced Wednesday during a party caucus meeting in Winnipeg.

“These new initiatives for Canadian farmers, fishers, truckers and the forestry industry are in addition to the significant tax cuts, the accelerated capital cost allowance for investment in green machinery and equipment, and the green rural credit, already provided in the Liberal green shift plan,” the party said in a release.

Emission reduction credits are meant to reward industries such as farming and forestry when they make verified reductions in non-energy greenhouse gas emissions.

Dion has previously advocated a “cap and trade” system that puts a price on carbon and rewards emission reductions. As a Liberal government develops such a system, he said, its emission reduction credits would pay financial incentives for farm practices such as minimum-tillage carbon sinks, manure management and land set-asides.

A Green Farms Fund, meanwhile, would fund research and rebates for “green farm” technologies that reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, such as anaerobic digesters, biomass energy systems and geothermal heating.

And a Green Fisheries and Transportation Fund would provide $250 million in rebates and incentives for investments in technologies and upgraded equipment that reduce fuel consumption, such as auxiliary power units to cut idling fuel costs; aerodynamic extensions and low rolling-resistance tires, to boost fuel efficiency; and other technologies such as speed limiters, double-trailer combinations and trailer side skirts.

“Most effective solution”

“The costs of fossil fuels are only going to go up as time goes on,” Dion said in the party’s release Wednesday. “In no uncertain terms, the most effective and sustainable solution is to help farmers, fishers and truckers reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and invest in alternatives.”

Dion noted that the party previously pledged $1.7 billion for an accelerated capital cost allowance on investment in green technologies. A capital cost allowance is a business tax deduction for the depreciation of capital equipment.

By accelerating the capital cost allowance rates for investments in green technologies, farmers will get a bigger tax deduction for increasing energy efficiency, the party said.

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