Liberal Budget Ignores Agriculture

February 26, 2016

CORNWALL – The Ontario Budget is reducing the agriculture Ministry’s budget from $943 million to $916 million.

 

“Year after year, this government ignores agriculture in the budget,” MPP McDonell stated. “This government delayed implementing the part of its local food initiative that would allow farmers to donate to food banks and now they are cancelling the Local Food Fund. It’s just another indicator that this government does not seem to care about farmers or rural Ontario.”

 

Farmers will be hit hard by the cap and trade fuel and natural gas tax, and the government’s renewed commitment to the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP). Farm operations that are incorporated will pay the ORPP, both on the corporate side and as the employee.

 

“Farming is a fuel-intensive industry,” MPP McDonell said. “Farmers will really feel the new 4.3 cent a litre cap and trade tax on the wholesale price of fuel and natural gas. The ORPP will be another 4% hit. It’s time that this Liberal government realizes that the price paid for most of the agricultural products produced in Ontario are set by international commodity markets in the US.  With a tight bottom line, these added expenses are not something farm businesses can afford or simply pass on to the consumer. Farmers have highlighted to me and to the Government that these added costs will force them to cut back, or as many small businesses have told me, simply close their doors.”

 

The agriculture industry asked for an increase in the maximum potential contribution to the Risk Management Program, investing in rural infrastructure by expanding the natural gas network, a farm industrial electricity rate to remain competitive, and credit to agriculture as part of the cap and trade system.

 

“The Ontario Federation of Agriculture asking for an electricity rate that will make them competitive and the PC Caucus made that specific demand of the Budget,” MPP McDonell continued. “As well, high electricity rates make it tough for residential ratepayers – especially those who heat with electricity.”

 

Private-sector analysts expect the overall annual cost of fuel to rise by $400 per year, while natural gas costs will rise by $475 per year for a family.

 

“The Cap-and-Trade scheme is a tax grab in the name of the environment that will make life and business less affordable to all and deprive more Ontarians of the savings that natural gas offers.” MPP McDonell concluded.  We can’t tackle this problem alone and must work with our international competitors.  Ontario contributes less than .1 of 1% of the world’s carbon footprint and will be bankrupt before we see any real impact.