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Recent KAP AGM explored policy landscape

From tax breaks to help young farmers rent land to wild boar the discussion was wide ranging

Class 1 licences, grain dryers, seed royalties, wild boars and a plan to make land rent more affordable for young farmers — all among the 19 resolutions Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) debated at the 35th annual meeting in Winnipeg Feb. 5 and 6.

The land rent resolution proposed KAP work to set up a system where farmers who rented land to young, local farmers, would be eligible for a 100 per cent income tax exemption on the rental earning. The idea is for landowners to reduce the rental fee they charge young farmers and still be money ahead because of the tax break.

KAP delegates raised pros and cons while debating the resolution, moved by Rauri Qually, a young farmer from District 6, but in the end it was referred to a KAP committee for more study.

“I think this would be something that would help the young farmers get started if we accomplished this and it would be a real benefit to farmers who retire and would like to rent to a younger farmer… ” District 6 farmer Chuck Fossay said during the debate.

District 3 farmer Butch Harder said he liked the idea but suspects landowners would go for the tax break and still charge young farmers the going rental fee.

Jake Ayre, a young farmer from District 1, supported the resolution.

“This is a good foot in the door,” he said. “I think this is a great step forward for the industry here.”

But former KAP president Dan Mazier said there are better tools to help young farmers rather than giving landlords a tax break.

“Because they’ve already got the money,” he said. “Giving them a bigger break on it isn’t really a good incentive for people with money.”

Mazier added with farmers’ average age being 55, a lot of land will soon be changing hands. The question is, will it go to young farmers or trust funds? he said.

“At $5,500 an acre it sure isn’t going to be young farmers,” Qually replied.

Rents, some as high as $120 an acre, keep rising, he added.

District 3 farmer Reg Dyck said he supported the intent of the resolution but given the potential for abuse, moved the resolution be studied further.

Class 1

Provincial governments are tightening regulations for semi-trailer drivers in the wake of the Humboldt Broncos’ bus crash, April 6, 2017, which killed 16 people and injured 13.

Delegates passed a resolution for KAP to ask the Manitoba government to implement a Class 1 (semi-trailer) licence for farmers, harmonized with the Saskatchewan government.

Saskatchewan and Alberta are implementing new regulations requiring Class 1 drivers, in addition to passing a written and operation driver’s test, take 121.5 hours of classroom training.

The Manitoba government is consulting on the issue. It wants to harmonize new Class 1 training requirements with Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta, he said.

The Saskatchewan government is going to partly exempt farmers hauling their own products from the new regulations, but they will be required to take safety training, Agricultural Producers of Saskatchewan president Todd Lewis told the meeting.

“There’s no question everybody needs that,” he said.

“I think everybody agrees there should be some kind of training without question on the safety side. I don’t think farmers should think they should be exempt from that, but let’s make sure the training we are taking has an agricultural focus.”

KAP delegates passed a late resolution to lobby to get more testers for those seeking Class 1 drivers’ licences. Fossay said some driving schools overbook driving test appointments, anticipating some students will have to repeat the test, and that’s making it hard for others to book appointments.

KAP delegates defeated a resolution to allow farmers to have their semis and trailers safetied every two years or 15,000 kilometres, whichever comes first. Many farmers put very few miles on their trucks and trailers and therefore should be allowed to go longer between safety checks, Fossay said.

District 6 farmer Sam Connery spoke against the resolution, noting her operation has a lot of trucks on the roads and she wants to know they are safe.

Seed royalties

KAP delegates passed a resolution to lobby the federal government to do further research on a “point-of-delivery checkoff system,” in place of trailing or end point royalties to fund seed variety development.

The seed industry is proposing either an end point royalty when grain is sold or a royalty paid by farmers to plant farm-saved seed.

KAP’s Grain, Oilseed and Pulse committee has also set principles it wants under any implemented plan to get farmers to invest more in developing new cereal varieties.

Delegates also passed a resolution to lobby Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to continue to research, develop and finish wheat varieties.

KAP delegates passed a resolution to lobby the Manitoba government to identify and “eradicate” wild boar in the province so they can’t harbour and spread African swine fever. In speaking for the resolution hog producer Ste. Anne hog farmer Marge Rempel said the disease is spreading from China to eastern Europe and there’s a link with wild boar.

“Once in a wild boar herd the disease is virtually impossible to eradicate,” she said.

France has an estimated wild boar population of four million, Rempel said. Last year the country killed 700,000 and has plans to remove one million to keep the population steady, she said.

“Its message to other countries is simple: get rid of wild boar populations — get them under control, preferably eliminated as early and quickly as possible,” Rempel said.


KAP resolution roundup

KAP delegates approved several other resolutions including:

  • Encouraging the Manitoba government to maintain its level of funding for Manitoba students at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon.
  • Lobbying the national railways to continue their efforts to provide dual rail lines in order to prevent the collisions that occur on shared single lines.
  • Working to ensure that financial assistance from the federal government to reduce rail bottlenecks is available so farm commodities get to market.
  • To work with Manitoba government departments to develop a document and/or website that explains regulations that apply when moving farm machinery and commodities.
  • Approaching Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to have a role in directing the Living Labs project to ensure farmers have the option and ability to perform best management practices, which address the needs outlined in the Paris Climate Accord and the UN’s IPCC-SR15 report.
  • Continue to lobby the Office of the Fire Commissioner, Manitoba Infrastructure and Manitoba Agriculture to provide clarity to the Canadian Standards Association regulations so that farmers have access to both new and used grain dryers, as well as expedited grain dryer certifications in Manitoba.
  • Developing a plan with industry stakeholders to expand natural gas capacity in rural Manitoba.
  • Lobby commodity groups to work with the federal government to allow innovative farms and value-added enterprises in Manitoba to access the interest-free Cash Advance Program.
  • Lobby the federal and Manitoba governments to provide more resources to help innovative farms and value-added enterprises to get established in Manitoba.

About the author

Reporter

Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator based near Miami, Man. Covering agriculture since 1980, Dawson has spent most of his career with the Co-operator except for several years with Farmers’ Independent Weekly and before that a Morden-Winkler area radio station.

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