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"CAN (AB): "Carbon Levy will create uneven playing field"

The Alberta Greenhouse Growers Association (AGGA) has released a video that outlines the current regulatory challenges facing the industry. The Alberta Government’s Carbon Levy will create an uneven playing field in this highly competitive sector.

88% of greenhouses rely on natural gas or propane to grow local crops, both for energy to heat the greenhouses and to capture CO2 to feed to the plants as fertilizer. The carbon levy will add $5 million dollars in direct costs to greenhouse operations in 2017 alone. This puts Alberta based greenhouses at a competitive disadvantage with markets in British Columbia, Ontario, the USA and Mexico.

The cumulative effect of many regulatory changes are creating an uncompetitive environment in Alberta for greenhouses. This includes the changes to minimum wage, outdated building codes for greenhouse structures, uncertainty in employment standards and labour codes and the additional costs of the carbon levy. AGGA is looking forward to working with the Alberta Government on a plan to help grow the greenhouse sector and provide Alberta families with access to the best locally grown vegetables and plants.

British Columbia greenhouses are also faced with a similar carbon tax to Alberta. The difference being that in BC greenhouses are able to claim 80% of the carbon tax paid as a rebate to the business. For greenhouses natural gas is as important as gasoline and diesel is to traditional farming. The Government of Alberta has already announced an exemption to dyed farm fuels from the carbon levy.

Why won’t they do the same for natural gas with greenhouses? Without a similar playing field, Albertans will be faced with less access to local fresh produce, and investment in the greenhouse sector will shrink rapidly.

Alberta enjoys high quality light which makes it excellent for greenhouses. However, Alberta companies considering expansion are now looking to neighbouring provinces and states for the cost savings on fuel alone.

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