KAP sends province budget priorities

The need for safety and stability in the province’s agriculture industry was brought into focus during the drought of 2021 as well as supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic.

This year in its pre-budget submission to the province, Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) highlighted government policy that can impact those dynamics for the ag sector including ones pertaining to the environment, economic competitiveness, labour and public trust.

KAP has been lobbying hard for a couple of years to exempt fuel used for drying grain and heating barns from the carbon tax.

There was some acknowledgement from the federal government last year that it was being considered, but as Bill Campbell, KAP’s president said, “there was an issue of an election” that prevented that from being finalized.

The province’s education property tax regime has always been a bone of contention with farmers and Campbell said they’re pleased that progress has recently been made and that a panel has been announced to continue to look at the issue.

“We want to ensure we are at the table,” he said.

KAP’s six budget recommendations for the first budget of the new Stefanson administration are:

• Increase funding toward initiatives and programs that build climate resiliency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions;

• Allocate contingency funding to assist Manitoba’s agriculture industry if drought conditions persist in 2022.

• Continue removing education property taxes from farm property and consult with KAP when developing Manitoba’s new education funding model.

• Develop a targeted agriculture labour strategy in partnership with KAP’s labour committee to reduce chronic labour shortages facing the sector.

• Support educational programs like Agriculture in the Classroom-Manitoba, which promote agriculture literacy and awareness to build public trust in agriculture.

• Both levels of government need to find a solution regarding carbon pricing in Manitoba. Any plan must exempt fuel used for drying grain and heating barns and return all tax revenue earned from agricultural activities to the sector.

Campbell said that the industry is a major economic driver for the province and KAP is committed to making sure the correct policies are in place to ensure it continues to function properly.

“If there is vulnerability in the industry we want to make sure there are the tools there to ensure that we remain an economic driver,” he said.

The 2021 drought was so severe that cattle producers in the province were forced to cull herds. But Campbell noted the province stepped up and partnered with the federal government to mitigate the extent of the damage.

“It was an investment in the future so that the economic drivers stay in place,” he said.

He said KAP has a good track record of solid communication with the provincial government and there are meetings scheduled early in the new year with senior agriculture officials in the Stefanson government.


Martin Cash

Martin Cash

Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.

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