By Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart
Farming and ranching are a way of life for many people in Ashcroft and area. Agriculture sustains us in a number of ways, from the food we eat to the economic benefits it provides to local farm families and B.C.’s economy.
That said, it’s not always easy to make a living in this line of work, and some agricultural operators are facing new challenges. Increases to the carbon tax and minimum wage will substantially increase costs for larger businesses.
Meanwhile, the government’s new Employer Health Tax (EHT) will likely impact all operators, not just those with a big payroll who will be getting a new tax bill. That’s because local governments may be forced to raise property taxes to cover off their own EHT bills.
In some cases, this burden may be too much to bear. The trouble is, farmers can’t simply raise prices to account for increased costs because they are price-takers, not price-setters.
We will also see some impacts from Bill 52, the Agricultural Land Commission Amendment Act 2018, passed by the government last fall. While our Opposition team supports measures to prevent the dumping of waste and debris on farmland, our fear is that this bill puts the focus on the land and not the farmer.
We have many farmers and ranchers working hard to succeed in all corners of B.C., but it’s harder to do in some areas of the province, including parts of Fraser-Nicola. Bill 52’s removal of “zone two” from the ALR diminishes the opportunity to set up small side businesses, like meat-cutting or welding, to earn extra income during tough months.
I believe there should be opportunities for all farmers and ranchers. I will continue to urge the government to reconsider some of these measures which will hinder rather than help this valued industry.