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Canadian farmers say there’s too much government red tape

Canadian farmers say there’s too much government red tape

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business surveyed more than 350 farmers

By Diego Flammini
News Reporter

Canadian producers feel they face too many regulatory hurdles.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) surveyed a total of 7,823 people, including 382 members of the ag industry, as part of its Cost of government regulation on Canadian businesses survey.

Of the members surveyed, 93 per cent say the burden of government regulation is growing. And 83 per cent said that excessive regulations add significant stress to their lives.

In an industry where time is an important commodity, farmers need to be given the opportunity to work efficiently, said Marilyn Braun-Pollon, CFIB’s vice president for agri-business.

“Red tape does hit home the closest for farmers,” she told today. “Farmers don’t have time to sit on the phone waiting for someone to answer a question or fill out piles of confusing paperwork right in the middle of seeding, calving or harvesting.

“It’s like sending an auditor into a retail store on Dec. 10. You just wouldn’t do that.”

Government regulations farmers face now could have major implications in the future.

The average Canadian farmers is 55 years old and more farmers are over 70 years old than under 35 years old, Statistics Canada reports.

As a result of red tape, 39 per cent of ag respondents to CFIB’s survey said they would advise their children against starting a business in the sector.

That’s a concerning figure for an industry that prides itself on being family-oriented, Braun-Pollon said.

“We’re concerned (red tape is) going to hold back the next generation of wanting to farm,” she said. “Our research shows that 70 per cent of farmers who have a succession plan will retire in the next seven to eight years. But flooding farmers with red tape is only going to make it harder for the next crop of farm entrepreneurs.”

Braun-Pollon isn’t advocating for the elimination of government regulation. Rather a streamlined mechanisms should be in place for farmers when they do have questions about regulations, she suggested.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, for example, has introduced a service where people can submit questions via email and receive a response, Braun-Pollon said.