Keystone Agricultural Producers has come out against the province’s proposed two per cent supply management quota exchange levy.
At the recent general council meeting, a number of speakers came forward to denounce the levy as a tax grab which would offer nothing in return to farmers, and a resolution was passed to lobby the provincial government to drop it.
Weldon Newton, an executive member of the farm lobby group, said the levy was “just another blatant tax grab” that the province was resorting to after “spending themselves silly” for the last two years, and if left unopposed, it could lead to even more charges and fees on the sector.
“It’s time for them to start looking at agriculture as an asset in this province, rather than a liability that needs to be taxed out of existence,” he said. “We have to send them a very strong message.”
Ian Wishart, president of KAP, said that if the province was looking for ways to balance its budget shortfall, repealing free visitation at provincial parks for two years would have generated more revenue and avoided unfairly targeting the agricultural sector.
“I’m really quite concerned, because this is a precedent-setting move, not only here in the province but all across Canada,” said Wishart, adding that governments might see it as a “cash cow” that would be priced into quota selling prices, and make it more difficult for new farmers to buy quota and get into the dairy, egg, chicken or turkey business.
“How many other provinces are in a tight financial situation? Pretty much all of them, and even our federal government.”
The levy, which came as a surprise announcement in the 2010-11 provincial budget released on March 23, has been proposed as a two per cent surcharge on supply management quota exchanges for dairy, poultry and eggs. The province is grappling with a $545-million deficit projected for this year. [email protected]