CALGARY, AB: Today, the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association commented on the federal and provincial budgets tabled this afternoon, as well as those tabled and impending during this 2017 budget cycle.
“In the federal budget today, it was great to see some priority spending focusing on critical infrastructure, such as the announced National Trade Corridors Fund, and we hope to see some of those funds dedicated to enhancing capacity in our essential grain handling and transportation system in western Canada,” said Levi Wood, President of the Wheat Growers and grain farmer at Pense, Saskatchewan. “It’s also positive to see work on ‘advancing regulatory alignment’ in agriculture with our trading partners. However, it’s disappointing to see Ottawa pushing ahead with a federal carbon tax, which is going to hurt the competitiveness of farmers and will increase food costs. Farmers are a good news story when it comes to reducing greenhouse gases, so it would be a perverse public policy to punish farmers on things like input costs when we’re a net carbon sink with our modern farming practices.”
The Wheat Growers commend the Government of Canada on the announced funding in the budget for trade and infrastructure, and encourage much-needed priority funding be allocated to enhancing capacity of the GHTS to ensure the fulfillment of Transportation 2030 as set out by Minister Garneau. As well as with the federal carbon tax, the Wheat Growers remain concerned about egregious user fees being charged to western farmers by the Canadian Grain Commission, including the collection of a surplus amount now over $100 million dollars of growers’ hard-earned money, which was not addressed in this budget. Further, there is also concern about the proposal to eliminate income tax deferral rules with respect to grain transactions and deliveries, as that would fundamentally change the way western grain farms operate their business cycles and would be a huge financial hit to many farmers, so the Wheat Growers will actively participate in that consultation process.
“Here in Regina today, the Wheat Growers are pleased to see the Government of Saskatchewan continuing to ensure a competitive farming and agriculture industry remain in this province,” said Wood. “That includes competitive tax rates and continuing to oppose a federal carbon tax on the province, which will hurt the profitability of farming and our whole agriculture sector. On the tax changes on farm fuel, they’re in place because fuel taxes are for funding roads, while farm equipment is overwhelmingly driven in fields, not highways, so we trust that money will make its way back into infrastructure.”
“It’s also important to point out while Alberta farmers and ranchers were already hurting and being hit hard by the NDP’s Bill 6 and carbon tax, their enormous deficit budget will continue to punish farmers and the larger agriculture sector, which is bad news for Albertans,” said Wood. “The evidence is in, and the Wheat Growers encourage the Government of Manitoba to join Saskatchewan in their upcoming budget in opposing a carbon tax on farmers and food.”
The Wheat Growers are disappointed with the new Alberta NDP beer and spirits policy of raising taxes and subsidizing select producers, which appears to be contrary to the Agreement on Internal Trade, the New West Partnership Trade Agreement, and the Constitution Act, 1867, and which will hurt farmers, brewers, distillers, and all consumers.
The Wheat Growers also reference the Government of Manitoba’s current consultation on their “Climate and Green Plan”, and encourage the government to ensure their plan and April budget does not lead to increased taxes, more bureaucratic regulations, and a less competitive farming and agriculture sector in the province.
“Western farmers and our agriculture industry are a truly good news story for our economy and our environment,” said Wood. “Sound public policy in competitive tax rates, science-based regulations, and pro-trade agendas are essential to ensure we continue improving this good news story so all Canadians will benefit now and going forward.”
About the Wheat Growers:
Founded in 1970, the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association is a voluntary farmer-run advocacy organization dedicated to developing public policy solutions that strengthen the profitability and sustainability of farming, and the agricultural industry as a whole. For more information, please visit wheatgrowers.ca.