Possible Line 5 disruption threatens eastern Canadian agriculture and food chain

Broiler birds at 2.5 weeks old, not fully feathered. Supplied by Maple Leaf Foods. 2020.

The Governor of Michigan has eastern Canadians wondering how they became so dependent on a pipeline coming from the U.S., as Governor Gretchen Whitmer is determined to have Enbridge cap Line 5 which would starve Ontario and Quebec of 50 per cent of their energy supply.

The Canadian government has taken court action this week, while Enbridge has stated they will refuse to listen to Governor Whitmer’s directive and the White House has made it clear it will not intervene.

In a letter to Prime Minster Trudeau dated January 25th, the OFA and six member organizations wrote, “The agricultural sector drives Ontario’s economy, generating more than 860,000 jobs and contributing over $47 billion to Ontario’s annual GDP. Our farmers rely on Line 5 for propane to fuel grain drying, to power irrigation systems, and for HVAC systems to maintain perishable crops and to maintain livestock facilities, including barns and brooding pens.”

If the Michigan Governor is successful, the Grain Farmers of Ontario are very concerned about impacts on the industry. Crosby Devitt, CEO, Grain Farmers of Ontario says, “We support the Canadian government in its efforts to keep Line 5 running and keep discussions with the U.S. government open while Enbridge works on solutions. Propane is vital for many farms to operate and for grains like corn and wheat to be viable for use. A significant percentage of the propane used in Ontario, and exported back to Michigan from Ontario, is derived from Line 5.”

“It will be messy, it will be polluting and, it will be expensive,” to use trucks and tankers to get the energy to Eastern Canada, said Minister of Energy Seamus O’Regan, on CTV’s PowerPlay.

In a presentation to Raj Saini, M.P., chairman of the economic relationship between Canada and the United States committee on March 26th, the OFA agreed with Minister Reagan’s assessment of the alternative transportation options. “These alternate forms of oil transport are more dangerous. OFA is confident you will hear first hand the heartfelt impacts to our neighbours in Quebec during the 2013 Lac Megantic rail disaster. The derailment, explosion and death toll should well inform government that any interruption serviced by these other means of transport is out of the question.”

According to a Globe and Mail story on Enbridge’s defiance of the order, Enbridge’s executive vice-president, Vern Yu, says the Calgary company will only cease operations on Line 5 if a judge orders it. The company has challenged the State of Michigan in U.S. federal court and both sides remain in court-ordered mediation.

This week Governor Whitmer threatened to sue Enbridge for all profits from Line 5 made by the pipeline company after May 12.

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