Rural residents across Ontario have voiced concerns following the arrival of rural property assessments.
Last week, the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) began circulating property assessments to all Ontario farm owners, according to the MPAC release.
Farmland has increased in value substantially since 1988 according to Darlene Rich, media relations specialist for MPAC. “The demand for farmland has significantly outweighed the supply, creating competition.”
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Rich states the factors affecting the demand of farmland include:
- non-agricultural buyers continuing to buy rural land,
- large enterprises such as livestock operations needing more land for cropping and nutrient management,
- the availability of soil types suitable for high-value crops in central and southern Ontario,
- producers in Eastern Ontario expanding their land,
- and southern buyers purchasing land in eastern and northern Ontario where land is less expensive.
Every four years, MPAC updates all Ontario property values.
This year, however, has been a hard one for farmers, as explained by Graham Walt, dairy farmer in Prince Edward County.
“This past summer has been the worst drought in a very long time,” wrote Walt in a letter to Todd Smith, Prince Edward-Hastings MPP.
“MPAC assessments in my riding have more than doubled for class 1 agricultural land,” said Smith in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario last week.
Because of the drought this year, high input costs with no cash return was an issue for us, says Walt. We’re “now purchasing hay and corn to feed our cattle throughout the winter.”
While the farm property value increased significantly, there has not been a similar increase in the value of commodities, explains Walt. “The cost of farming is going up, and the worth of commodities is going down.”
Walt says he understands it is a province-wide process, but would like the government to be aware of the hard year farmers have endured.
Rich says that an increase in property assessments does not necessarily mean an increase in tax rates, as taxes are determined by municipalities.