Few Agriculture Commitments in Federal Budget Disappoint Farm Groups

The Federal Budget, released Tuesday, contained very few commitments for the agriculture sector, which farm groups say is disappointing on several fronts.

The Grain Growers of Canada (GGC) said it missed “an extension to the extended rail interswitching pilot, investments in trade-enabling infrastructure, investments in grain-related research and development, initiating a review of the Canada Grains Act, and revamping the Accelerated Investment Incentive.”

“We know that there are severe delays and choke points in our supply chain, especially at the port of Vancouver where the majority of grain is exported through – they’ve been asking now for years for billions of dollars of needed and critical investment and none of that was included in there,” said Kyle Larkin, Executive Director of the GGC, of one area where infrastructure investment is needed.

Larkin said the Budget also lacked investment on the research & development side when it comes to innovation in plant-breeding and new varieties.

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) understood that there are other priorities the federal government has for funding, but believes agriculture is too important to ignore.

“When we’re dealing with something like production of food, the economic development aspect of that is huge for this country not only from an economic part of it but also from a food security aspect and we continue to look at the government to help promote agriculture and help us with all the more tools we need,” said Keith Currie, President of the CFA. “Would have been nice to see more in the budget for agriculture, but we have to deal with what we have to deal with.”

In Chapter 3 of the Budget – Lowering Everyday Costs – it reiterates the interest-free portion of loans under the Advance Payments Program is set at $250-thousand for 2024. The federal government says it will continue to review the program to improve delivery and reduce administrative burden for farmers.

Consultations on amending the Copyright Act to support interoperability “between devices and equipment” will launch this June with further details to be announced in the future. Currie and Larkin pointed out this is a repeat announcement from last year’s Budget as there were supposed to be consultations last summer but didn’t come to fruition.

 “Grain farmers have been waiting patiently since Budget 2023 for a consultation on right to repair and interoperability for farm equipment.” Larkin said.

“There has been a number of consultations put on by the private sector,” Currie said. “We’ll have to keep (the federal government’s) feet to the fire to make sure they follow through on that because it’s an important thing for farmers not only to be able to continue to repair their equipment on-the-go, but really understand what it means in the big picture.”

There was also mention of the Livestock Tax Deferral and the federal government’s ongoing commitment to work with industry partners, such as the Canadian Cattle Association, to explore ways to ensure farmers can access it quicker in times of extreme weather events, like drought or flooding.

The tax on capital gains above $250-thousand is increasing from 50 percent to 66 percent. The federal government says this change is expected to generate $19-billion over 5 years, adding the change will affect any corporations, trusts, and individuals who’s capital gains exceed the 250 thousand dollars. The increase to the capital gains tax will affect about 40-thousand individuals and 307-thousand companies.

The lifetime capital gains exemption, meanwhile, is increasing to $1.25-million “on the sale of small business shares and farming and fishing property” effective June 25 of this year. Currie says they’re digging to see what this means for farmers.

Larkin noted a $500-million commitment to support the production of biofuels in Canada. That money is through the Canada Infrastructure Bank under its green infrastructure investment stream.

“This was probably the only positive note that I could find and pull out of it,” said Larkin, adding this is great for canola and soybean farmers as it will give them a better price for those commodities and adds to Canada’s economy and job growth.

“What we’re looking for is a circular economy where you have the canola farmer grow the canola, drop it off at the canola crushing plant where it gets crushed into canola oil, that canola oil gets transformed into biodiesel, and then that biodiesel is used in that canola farmer’s combine to lower their own greenhouse gas emissions, so it’s a great circular economy that not only creates extra income for that farmer but it also creates extra jobs in Canada and also creates extra economic development.”

The 2024 Budget in its entirety can be found here.

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