Carbon tax drives ranchers’ demise

Cattle producers in the Cariboo and across the province are looking for relief from a double whammy of provincial taxation hits.

Cattle producers in the Cariboo and across the province are looking for relief from a double whammy of provincial taxation hits.

The defeat of the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) referendum has impacted the ranchers’ cash flow, and their bottom lines, as they can no longer claim tax rebates on many farm expenses that were allowed under the HST.

Ranchers have been asking for an exemption from the carbon tax on farm fuel for some time, and while the HST had provided some relief, the B.C. Cattlemen’s Association (BCCA) is now stepping up its efforts to offset the impact of losing the HST rebates.

Lac la Hache rancher Marvin Monical says he is in total agreement with pursuing a carbon-tax exemption on farm fuel purchased in the province.

“The carbon tax was to get people out of their cars and use transit.  There is no transit available where ranchers need to go.”

He notes the carbon tax on fossil fuel consumption is unfair to ranchers whose daily operations often require the use of tractors, farm equipment, pickups and five-ton cattle trucks, none of which can be facilitated by public transit.

There is a big difference between an urban commuter and a rural rancher, Monical says, and they should not be taxed the same way.

The “sky-high costs” of fuel only drives the demise of the ranchers’ livelihood, as well as their ability to provide food for British Columbians.

“I guess the government doesn’t realize that transit doesn’t haul a horse trailer behind their buses.”

According to the BCCA, the cost of fuel has tripled, due in part to the carbon tax, so it will be joining forces with other agriculture groups in its battle to relieve farmers and ranchers of the carbon-tax burden.

BCCA general manager Kevin Boon says cattle producers voted unanimously in favour of seeking a full exemption from the carbon tax for farm fuel in June.

Aside from the socioeconomic benefits of providing food for British Columbians, the forage grown by ranchers, and even the grazing patterns that expose the roots, are one of the best aids in reducing green house gases, Boon explains.

“We’re helping to sequester this carbon and we’re part of the solution, but we’re being penalized for it by paying the tax.”

Monical says livestock producers, farmers and hay ranchers are asking for the exemption only for dyed, “purple” gasoline and diesel used for farm purposes, not for the fuel used in the family car driving to town.