B.C. farmers will be disadvantaged without HST

A return to the PST/GST means that B.C.’s food producers will be at a disadvantage in both local and export markets, says Garnet Etsell, the chair of the B.C. Agriculture Council (BCAC) and a Mount Lehman poultry farmer.

By Kurt Langmann

Perhaps the biggest irony of the referendum defeat of the HST in B.C. is that the “working poor” of this province will still not be able to afford to dine out once the former PST exemption is restored to restaurant tabs. Yet B.C.’s agricultural industry, which provides nutritious, locally-grown food to the public free of any taxes, will be forced once again to hand over $15- to $20 million a year in PST to the provincial treasury.

A return to the PST/GST means that B.C.’s food producers will be at a disadvantage in both local and export markets, says Garnet Etsell, the chair of the B.C. Agriculture Council (BCAC) and a Mount Lehman poultry farmer.

“Agriculture will face higher input costs that are no longer balanced out with investment tax credits made available under the HST. B.C. farmers will pay more to produce food that is tax-free for consumers – an unsustainable pattern that would add to the significant financial pressures many B.C. farmers and ranchers are currently facing,” says Etsell.

Etsell cited examples of this tax disadvantage, “primarily on the capital expenditure side. Under the HST if you built a new barn you would get that back, and under the PST you would pay seven percent on the materials and you would not get that back.”

In the case of smaller farm operations Etsell said smaller farm tractors were PST assessed while larger tractors were not.

“Any vehicles — trucks, tractors — farmers could claim the HST back but not the PST,” said Etsell.

The old PST administration “was also a very awkward process. The tax exempt list did not keep up with improvements in technology. It was not a timely process, we’d get one crack a year at adding things to the ‘shopping list,’” said Etsell.

“B.C. is the only province in the country where agriculture showed net revenue losses in the past number of years. Many of our farmers are already hurting.”

Following the announcement of the defeat of the HST last week, Premier Christy Clark’s office issued a statement pledging a return to the former PST exempt list that existed prior to the implementation of the HST.

Etsell says that the BCAC, “will be having a chat with the government about this.

“Simply reintroducing the old PST system is a poor option for B.C. agriculture. In an effort to improve industry competitiveness, the BCAC will also be looking to government to change other tax policies such as the Carbon Tax, which has had a crippling effect on several agriculture sectors,” said Etsell.

“Food should be tax-free.”

– Aldergrove Star

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Canadian police to make home visits to enforce mandatory quarantine for travellers

Police forces have been asked to help verify Canadians are complying with the Quarantine Act

IHIT identifies victim in Surrey shooting homicide

Pritpal Singh, 21, was shot and killed outside of a Surrey home, police say

Cloverdale high school teacher chats about teaching and life during the COVID-19 crisis

Surrey’s Walter van Halst sits down for an informal ‘virtual’ coffee to discuss education’s current new reality

Celebrating Easter in Surrey, during COVID-19

Surrey’s Christian churches rise to the occasion, despite Coronavirus challenges

White Rock youngster’s message of hope inspires

Graphic designer leaves note thanking Leo King for rainbow of positivity

VIDEO: Easter festivities may be scaled back, but it can still be a fun holiday

COVID-19 circumstances have dictated that the holidays may not be perfect

B.C. Ferries busy on long weekend, even during pandemic

Sailings from Tsawwassen to Nanaimo filling up

B.C. artist erects 15-foot statue and names it COVID

Decades of collecting spare parts culminated in folk art towering over a country road

COVID-19 world update: U.S. to start antibody tests; drones enforce lockdown in Italy

Comprehensive update of coronavirus news from around the world

Lower Mainland hunting store sees 200% increase in firearm sales

Co-owner of Wanstalls says increase due to a variety of reasons

People needing addiction services feeling ‘abandoned’ during pandemic

The province is trying to increase access to addiction care through a phone line of experts, doctors

COVID-19: B.C. ER nurse self-isolates in travel trailer, apart from family

Marcia Kent says situation is difficult but worth it to keep twin boys safe

Cancellations of plant orders prompt advent of pop-up garden shops

A Langley nursery is partnering with local eateries to sell 40 acres of veggie plants and flowers

B.C. unveils $5M for mental health supports during the COVID-19 pandemic

Will include virtual clinics and resources for British Columbians, including front-line workers

Most Read