Farmers are feeling a little bit like they’re under siege
WHILE TRYING TO HARVEST a crop this September, Canadian farmers have become understandably distracted and feeling a little unloved. And understandably so. The first volley came from Ottawa in the form of a very unpopular proposed business tax amendment that will have an impact on many people, including farmers. It involves loopholes that allow professionals, such as doctors and farmers, to incorporate themselves, and then draw income from their businesses while paying lower corporate taxes.
Ottawa is concerned because the number of corporations in Canada has grown eight-fold in 50 or so years, and the suspicion is many corporations have formed as a way to avoid tax.
Some farmers incorporate, though, to protect their assets. Farming costs a lot of money. As the world grows and farms get bigger, equipment costs and supplies grow too. Incorporating is often advised for legal reasons.
The farm community resents the implication that
some of its members are taking advantage of this socalled tax shelter, or worse, cheating. During harvest – and during the long weekend – social media channels came alive with criticism of the proposal.
“Hey @JustinTrudeau @Bill_Morneau I’m in my tax shelter improving the environment and helping feed the world on a Holiday Monday how bout U!” said one prairie farmer, who drew more than 1,600 likes and almost 1,000 retweets with this tweet and a photo from his combine.
Things didn’t get any better when A&W Restaurants stepped up on twitter to tell outgoing Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and his 91,000 followers that the company does its best to source its beef from Canada, “but there simply isn’t enough that matches our standards.”
Yikes! Talk about waving a red flag in front of a bull.
A&W is still seen as evil by many farmers and ranchers because of its advertising and marketing campaign that calls into question the quality of much of the Canadian livestock sector. Said Ontario farm advocate Terry Daynard: “A&W beef is commonly referred to as mystery meat. Origins unknown.” Added former federal minister of agriculture Gerry Ritz: “Off-shore old grass-fed cows.”
And finally, a report surfaced from a publication called Global Meat News that reported the UK meat sector was courting Canadian importers. It said Canadian importers visited the UK to experience the country’s standards in meat production, and that the results were pleasing to the Canadians.
Are you kidding me? The UK meat sector?
Not that the Canadian meat-processing sector is unblemished following the recent report of mislabelling in sausage. But the UK has among the worst record for meat scandals. The debacle a few years ago involving mislabelled horsemeat there still stings the entire meat sector. Before that, it was the broad appearance of mad cow disease in the UK, accompanied by heart-wrenching photos of entire herds being destroyed.
No one wants to see this and indeed the UK took extraordinary measures to fix the problems. However, there’s no question these memories resonate.
And what about domestic producers? How do Canadian importers explain shopping abroad for beef to farmers here who are vying for market share?
Producer organizations like Canadian Beef work their tails off here to show people how beef is produced and why it’s among the best in the world. I guess they’ll have their work cut out for them even more so now.
British beef knocking on the door from Canadian importers, an Americanbased fast food chain saying Canadian beef doesn’t measure up, and Ottawa suggesting farmers may be hiding tax dollars … well, hopefully the weather will hold up for this fall’s harvest, because that’s about the only thing some farmers can look forward to.