REGINA - Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister David Marit continues to point to the carbon tax as to blame for creating high costs of livestock producers.
Marit was responding to the latest round of calls from the opposition New Democrats for a provincial investigation into rising food prices.
Opposition Critic Trent Wotherspoon raised the issue in the Legislature, pointing out the Canadian Western Agribition was underway. Wotherspoon asked why the government would not "act on this front to produce fairness for producers and consumers."
Marit responded by saying it "all comes down to the cost of food and cost of production, and it all comes right back to the farm gate. Every penny comes right back to the farm gate, to the farmers and ranchers of this province... we pay carbon tax all through the whole system."
Marit also pointed out every time the product is transported, "there is another carbon tax on it."
"There's a carbon tax on a carbon tax on a carbon tax, which those members opposite have stood and supported from day one, Mr. Speaker."
In speaking to reporters afterwards, the Ag Minister reiterated that same message. He did note that calf prices leaving the farm are at “record highs - they’re higher than the five year average, we’re seeing a good number coming back to the primary producer there.”
The challenge with it, he said, was that everything the farmer and rancher was purchasing was coming back at higher prices due to transportation costs.
“I’ll go right to where the main cause is and that’s a carbon tax,” Marit said. “We said it since 2015 that it’s going to have an impact on all sectors in the economy and it has."
Marit pointed to the impact on transportation costs. He noted that “everywhere down the line” there was carbon tax on that product going to market. He pointed to commercial truckers having to pay carbon tax on fuel as one example.
Producers have pointed to the price of feed being a driver of the cost increases.. Marit acknowledged feed costs were going up, but again noted the impact was “reflective of the carbon tax that everybody’s being charged on.”
Marit described the impact as considerable, saying he heard numbers from some of the barns of the carbon tax being 15 to 20 per cent of their bill.
Marit was also asked about the federal standing committee on agriculture and its study into food prices, and seemed skeptical of what the federal government would come up with.
“The study is only going to prove what they want it prove,";said Marit, who suggested the Feds "look in the mirror" and ask what it would do to remove the carbon tax.
"Look in the mirror, remove the carbon tax, do that first, and see how that impacts the cost of food.”
In speaking to reporters, Opposition Leader Carla Beck noted the Saskatchewan Stockgrowers Association was in favor of investigating the additional circumstances ranchers were facing.
“That’s what they have requested and I think it’s a reasonable request,” said Beck. “This is a call that’s been made going back to July by the stockgrowers.”
The NDP leader again pointed to the cost of forage crops and of feed going up. “We continue to hear those calls for some relief for those producers,” she said.
Beck added that wintering cattle over another year “is forcing some producers to face some pretty bleak decisions on selling off their herd,” she said.
“Generational ranches are facing the very real possibility of selling off their herd because they cannot go through the winter with losses like they are incurring over the last number of years.”