FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 24, 2015
SIMCOE – Farmers shouldn’t look for help from yesterday’s budget, according to Toby Barrett, Opposition Critic for the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
On the program side, there is nothing new announced, just a restatement of existing programs. The good news for farms that have drying operations is the Ontario Energy Board is looking at options to expand natural gas availability. It’s too preliminary to say if this will benefit farm operations, but there is potential.
The already-battered horse racing industry could take another hit. The budget is proposing legislative changes to move horse racing under OLG.
“This is a conflict of interest,” Barrett said. “One of the sources of revenue for race tracks has been slots. With the same agency overseeing casinos and horse tracks, there is potential to further dilute tracks’ ability to make money.”
There was no clarification in the budget on production insurance for livestock producers as the government has not decided exactly what is covered, and consequently how much money is needed.
The big hit on farm families will be cap and trade and the introduction of the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan.
“Farming is a fuel-intensive industry,” Barrett said. “Farmers will feel any increases in the cost of gasoline or diesel as a result of the carbon tax.”
In addition, farm operations that are incorporated will pay the ORPP, both on the corporate side and as the employee.
“That’s a four per cent hit,” Barrett said. “With a tight bottom line, this added expense is not something farm businesses can afford. I have heard from many small businesses in the riding that the ORPP, combined with escalating hydro rates, could result in closure.”
For more information, contact MPP Toby Barrett at 519-428-0446 or [email protected]