Regulations killing family farms in Canada
Red Tape Week: Regulations killing family farms in CanadaThere’s a running joke at Chico Ranches Ltd., located roughly 50 kilometres northwe converse uk st of Calgary, that owner John Lee uses to explain why his children never followed their father into the purebred cattle business.
“I always used to joke, if I really promoted them to get into it, I’d be charged with child abuse,” said Mr. Lee, 62, on a recent afternoon. Even when his children were young, his wife, Jan, would frequently work late into the night filling out paperwork, he said.
Nor, it seems, are they alone. New data published by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) suggest the country’s farmers are hit harder by red tape than other businesses, “significantly” reducing productivity and limiting growth as the agriculture sector as a whole struggles to attract a younger generation to farming and farm related businesses.
The findings, published in CFIB’s Survey on Regulation and Paper Burden, paint a portrait of a sector struggling to cope with an increasingly c converse uk omplex web of forms, surveys and paperwork.
Of 408 agri businesses surveyed by converse uk CFIB, roughly 80% ranked red tape as their No. 1 concern ahead of taxes. Seventy two per cent said the burden has grown in the past three years, compared with 55% in all other sectors.
Red Tape Blues
Some of the more unusual and constraining incidents of agricultural red tape that the CFIB has heard:
A farmer on the border of two different municipalities says he deals with provincial public health inspectors in each jurisdiction, but each municipality interprets the provincial policies quite differently. So, the farmer has to operate based on two different interpretations of the same policy.
One Saskatchewan farmer says he fills out 400 forms for every container converse uk of polypropylene bags he imports to package his pulse crops. It takes a full time employee three to five days to complete six months worth of duty drawback claims The trouble is this drawback was initially applied to protect Canadian bag manufacturers, of which there are none in existence. Ministry of Transportation does not allow promotional signage on the inland island highway, making it difficult for a farm store to sell its locally grown produce.
Farmers are required to use certain tags on their products that are available only from government, yet the government is often late in supplying the tags.
A farmer sent in a renewal form to obtain an import permit, and got back a whole different set of forms for a totally unrelated matter. It took four phone calls and two weeks to resolve not to mention a missed a business opportunity.
A truckload of fresh beans with the boxes stamped Canada 1 had to be dumped because of a regulation change the farmer had not been notified of. The inspector wouldn’t let the produce into the warehouse for shipping even though the public does not see the box.
“It is the sheer volume of work that must be done to satisfy all levels of government and industry regulations manure spreading regulations, fisheries setbacks, environmental programs, employee deductions, CFIA regulations, Stats Can requests, new livestock hauling regulations the list goes on.” British Columbia, Livestock and Animal Specialty
“In the past 10 years, the amount of time we spend just on record keeping has more than doubled. At times it feels like we must pay more attention to paperwork than to the actual growing of crops.” Ontario Fruit, Vegetable and Horticulture
“The Stats Can surveys are ridiculous and always come at our busiest time of year. They put a due date on them that is next to impossible for us to complete in time, then phone and harass us on a daily basis.” Manitoba, Field Crop and Combination Farms
CFIB found nearly 70% of respondents said bureaucratic red tape “significantly” reduces productivity, and 87% said excessive regulations add “significant” stress to their lives. Another 68% said red tape discourages growth oriented investment, compared with 62% in other businesses.
Underscoring the challenges of attracting young blood to an aging sector, roughly one third of respondents said they might not have gone into the agriculture business at all had they faced today’s level of red tape.
“Only 8% of farmers are under the age of 35, so clearly attracting new entrepreneurs to the agriculture sector and the successful transfer of Canadian farms to the next generation of producers is one of the most important issues facing the Canadian agriculture industry today,” said Marilyn Braun Pollon, vice president of agri business at the CFIB.
“If we’ve got a level of regulatory burden that’s crippling the ag sector and stifling innovation, it’s going to stop that next generation of farmers from wanting to even get into the business,” she said, adding that the sector employs two million Canadians and generates more than $44 billion worth of trade.
While the volume is always heavy, the type and degree of regulation faced by Canada’s agri businesses varies by
For father and son owners Gerhard and Jarrett Gerke, a brush with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has so far cost their business, Green Thumb Nurseries, $308,910.46.
He said some plants at the nursery remain under quarantine, as per a CFIA mandate, nearly seven months after federal inspectors found traces of a water borne pathogen called Sudden Oak disease, or SOD, in a crop of 25 to 40 year old Rhododendrons.
The 90 or so plants, which sell for a minimum of $500 a pop, were deemed a biohazard by CFIA inspectors, increasing disposal costs. Green Thumb questioned the methodology used, which tests “blocks” of plants rather than individual specimens.
Inspections are haphazard, Jarrett said. CFIA staff “walk through a plant bed, take what they consider a block and then they’ll just take random samples of anything that looks infested, throw it all into one bag, ship it back to Ontario to be tested and then say there’s a plant in this block somewhere that’s infected, it all must be destroyed.”
The CFIA did not respond to requests for comment before press time.
Jarrett and his father maintain a more rigorous approach could have narrowed down exactly which plants were carriers of the pathogen, potentially reducing the cost of destruction. Instead, one third of the nursery’s inventory was quarantined. The upshot has been lost sales, reputational damage and the loss of a genetic