Farmers becoming more pessimistic about economy than other sectors

On Nov. 24, the Canadian Federation of Inde­pendent Business (CFIB) re­leased a new report, Cultivat­ing a Fertile Foundation, which provides Ontario agri-business owners’ views on the economy, regulatory burden, business risk management programs, harmonized sales tax (HST), potential unionization of farm workers, and employ­ment standards.

“There’s no doubt agri-business owners are facing many challenges and feeling the impact of a number of factors such as high input costs and a volatile Canadian dollar. CFIB’s small business opti­mism numbers (Business Baro­meter®) for October reveal that agriculture is by far the most pessi­mistic sector in the coun­try,” said CFIB’s vice-president of agri-business Marilyn Braun-Pollon.

“While we realize there is little government can do to solve many of these global prob­lems, it certainly can take steps to improve the tax and regu­latory environment in which agri-businesses oper­ate,” added CFIB’s senior policy analyst, Plamen Petkov.  “The Ontario government can also address some of the un­cer­tainty facing Ontario agri-busi­ness owners by continuing to fight the threat of unionization of farm workers, and ensuring Employment Standards Act exemptions remain in place.”

The report makes a number of recommendations that will help build a strong agri-busi­ness sector:

– continue to reduce the regulatory and paper burden;

– continue to reduce the total tax burden, make the HST reform a win for farmers by re­ducing the combined HST rate and increasing the small busi­ness transition credit;

– continue to fight the threat of unionization of farm work­ers;

– ensure Employment Stan­d­ards Act exemptions remain in place for farm operations; and

– make necessary changes to Business Risk Management programs to ensure they are transparent, accessible, predictable and timely.

“We hope governments will give careful consideration to the recommendations contain­ed in our report to ensure Ontario’s agriculture sector grows and prospers in the decades to come,” concluded Braun-Pollon.

To view Cultivating a Fertile Foundation in full, visit: CFIB is the business voice for agriculture, with 6,500 independently own­ed and operated agri-businesses in the country, of which 1,800 are in Ontario.