GRAIN FARMERS OF ONTARIO is a strong supporter of corn-based ethanol, but has been a vocal opponent of key aspects of Clean Fuel Standard (CFS) proposed by the federal government. On the surface, it may seem counter intuitive to speak against a new fuel standard, but there are serious issues with the proposal that will hinder the ability to deliver truly green fuels.
Historically, government mandates for ethanol have been a success story. They have increased the demand for Ontario grown corn — creating a strong and growing market that also produces by-products such as dried distillers’ grains, which add another link in the agriculture value chain.
Mandates have helped to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. According to Renewable Industries Canada (RIC), ethanol reduces GHG emissions by up to 62 per cent compared to fossil fuels.
The concerns we have with the proposed Clean Fuel Standard are the unnecessary and burdensome land use requirements. The proposed standard puts restrictions on land improvement and buffer zones near waterways, with no practical or scientific justification.
These requirements ignore the reality of farming in our province and ignore the efficient and sustainable way we already grow our crops. Corn farming in Ontario is some of the most sustainable in the world. According to Field to Market Canada we have increased our land use efficiency in corn by 39 per cent — this means we are growing more on the same amount of land. Since 1981, the energy used to plant, grow, and harvest corn has decreased by 43 per cent; and we have decreased our climate impact in corn production by 45 per cent.
Farmers are always improving how we farm. We are early adopters of technology; we support strong scientific research that translates into best management practices; and we are willing to invest in our business for the long-term.
I am confident that in 10 years Ontario grain farmers will be growing corn even more efficiently and sustainably. And government does have a role to play — they must be supportive of us and enable our success.
Unfortunately, the Clean Fuel Standard as currently proposed by the federal government, with these land use and biodiversity stipulations, goes against the spirit of partnership and could even be interpreted as casting farmers in the role of anti-environment.
The truth is the opposite — farmers are true environmentalists and should be recognized for their contributions to a greener earth. A true Clean Fuel Standard will focus on the benefits of biofuels and not deter the production of the grains that make those alternative fuels. •