Message from BCAC Chair Rhonda Driediger regarding the 2013 BC Election:
"The upcoming provincial election scheduled for May 2013 is an important opportunity for BC farmers and ranchers to engage with party leaders and candidates. To help facilitate this process, the BC Agriculture Council, through consultation with our entire membership, has identified common issues across all sectors of BC agriculture. These issues have been summarized in the attached document with suggested questions for candidates. BCAC has sent this document to the major political parties in BC and we will keep you updated on the responses as they come in.
It is very important that this message also reaches the community level. We need all BC farmers and ranchers, to familiarize themselves with these issues, proactively engaging their local candidates (in person, email, phone, etc). We strongly encourage the entire BCAC membership to become active voices for agriculture during this election campaign.
Together we will improve the long term profitability of farmers and ranchers in BC."
Rhonda Driediger, Chair
BC Agriculture Council
Fortis BC has been fielding enquiries from farm customers regarding their gas billing and the up-coming switch back to the PST. Farmers may be exempt from paying PST on all or portions of their gas bill. This billing exemption as of April 1, 2013 will not take place automatically since Fortis BC has no way of identifying bona fide BC Farm status on specific accounts unless customers are in contact with us.
As such, Fortis BC has established a procedure for this confirmation of Farmer Status to take place. In order to register farmer exemption status for FortisBC gas bills:
Farmers can email a scanned copy of their proof (BC Farmer ID Card/certificate) to email@example.com or fax it to 1-888-224-2720.
Please ensure to include any and all qualifying gas account numbers; and a primary contact name and phone number in your email or fax.
FortisBC Customer Service Reps are available to answer questions @ 1-888-224-2710.
Key Account Manager – Agriculture Sector/Food & Beverage Processors
Toll-Free in BC: 1-888-954-7857
On February 20, BCAC Executive Director participated in a pre-budget meeting consultation hosted by federal Minister of Trade Ed Fast, focusing on trade with Asia.
Some of the topics discussed included:
· Public education and engagement on benefits of economic development.
· Infrastructure in the Lower Mainland (rail bridges, shortage of industrial land, port space, Massey Tunnel)
· Species at Risk
· Secure, streamlined, harmonized regulatory framework
· Domestic trade issues
· Skills training
· Treaty negotiations
· Emerging opportunities in India
· Access to Asian markets for BC cherries and blueberries (getting closer)
· Protectionism used by virtually all trading partners in different forms
· Increasing global demand for food, importance of food security and need for a national food strategy
Other attendees included the Asia Pacific Foundation, BC Chamber of Commerce, BC Chamber of Shipping, BC Seafood Alliance, Council of Forest Industries. CP Rail, Pacific Gateway Alliance, Port Metro Vancouver and the Vancouver Airport Authority.
BCAC Chair Rhonda Driediger and BC Greenhouse Growers' Executive Director Linda Delli Santi made a make a presentation at a Deputy Minister's consultation session, hosted by the Deputy Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation that included representatives from other natural resource sectors. While Ms. Driediger acknowledged that this meeting is a good start, a long-term commitment from government is needed to develop effective government policy that better acknowledges the unique nature of agriculture, as well as its ability to create sustainable employment.
Ms. Driediger also met with NDP Labour Critic Shane Simpson and NDP Agriculture Critic Lana Popham, who affirmed NDP support for the Seasonal Agriculture Worker Program, as well as a desire to work together with industry to better understand agricultural labour issues and concerns.
The BC Ministry of Finance recently anounced its intention of exempting the carbon tax from coloured fuel used by BC farmers and ranchers. The legislation is anticipated to be tabled at the Fall sitting of the BC legislature for implementation at a future date.
The BC Ministry of Agriculture estimates that this proposal will save BC farmers & ranchers $4-4.5M each year. This is based on a carbon tax rate of 6.67 cents/litre on gasoline and 7.67 cents/litre for diesel. The table below summarizes the proposed discounts.
|Applicable Tax Rates||Type of Fuel|
|Coloured Gasoline (cents/Litre)||Coloured Diesel (Cents/Litre)|
|Existing Motor Fuel Tax Exemption Rate||3||3|
|Proposed Carbon Tax Exemption Rate||6.67||7.67|
|Total Proposed Exemption for Farmers and Ranchers||9.67||10.67|
The government of BC’s arrangement with CFIA to inspect provincially licensed Class A and B abattoirs will be replaced by a new provincial meat inspection system by Jan. 1, 2014. The new system is the result of extensive consultation with ranchers, abattoir operations, local governments, and direct farm marketers.
“We are pleased with the government’s approach to the new Meat Inspection System”, states Kevin Boon, general manager of the BC Cattlemen Association. “Meat Inspection is an important link in the supply chain and it is important that it be paid for and delivered by government to insure its credibility. We believe the provincial government has done a very good job of developing a system that will satisfy the needs of consumers, producers and processors alike.”