Manitobans have until the end of January to submit feedback
By Diego Flammini
Manitoba’s general farm organization has put forward its recommendations for the provincial government’s next budget.
Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) released a list of six specific items it would like to see when Finance Minister Scott Fielding presents the budget later this year.
KAP wants the government to:
- Increase funding toward initiatives and programs that build climate resiliency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, recognizing the work that farmers do to ensure a healthy environment for future generations,
- Allocate contingency funding to assist Manitoba’s agriculture industry if drought conditions persist in 2022,
- Continue removing education property taxes from farm property and consult with KAP when developing Manitoba’s new education funding model,
- Develop a targeted agriculture labour strategy in partnership with KAP’s labour committee to reduce chronic labour shortages facing the sector, and
- Support educational programs like Agriculture in the Classroom-Manitoba, which promote agriculture literacy and awareness to build public trust in agriculture.
The provincial and federal governments must also collaborate on a solution to carbon pricing which exempts fuels used for drying grain and heating barns.
The requests are in line with what industry has expressed, said Bill Campbell, president of KAP.
“What we’ve brought forward is very relevant to the ag community,” he told Farms.com.
Some items like the education property tax, are years in the making.
In the Nov. 2019 throne speech, for example, then-Premier Brian Pallister announced plans to phase out education property taxes on farmland over 10 years.
The work on this issue needs to continue, Campbell said.
“We need to have a review and we want to ensure we have a seat at the table when these discussions happen,” he said. “The landscape has changed quite a bit from when this policy was developed and we want to be sure everything is equitable and fair.”
Another pressing issue is the drought which affected the Prairies in 2021.
Despite the snow in Manitoba, subsoil moisture levels won’t be known until the spring.
Having funding set aside for Manitoba producers should drought strike again could prevent growers from falling behind, Campbell said.
“Will we get timely rains to ensure forages and crops are growing?” Campbell said. “We’ve learned from 2021 and we need to have accessible tools available and be prepared for worst-case scenarios.”
Manitobans have until Jan. 31 to submit feedback to the ministry of finance about what should be included in the upcoming budget.
KAP has been in contact with the provincial ministers of agriculture and environment, and anticipates future conversations with the minister of finance, Campbell said.