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'The devil’s in the details': Mixed reaction from P.E.I. farmers to federal budget

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There are certain parts of the newly-announced federal budget some farmers say will be helpful, but in many ways it doesn’t go far enough.

Some farms on Prince Edward Island are still dealing with the costs associated with Hurricane Fiona, and many government risk management programs have limits on how often someone can apply and for how much money.

“The timeframe between Hurricane Dorian and Hurricane Fiona was only two years, so you could quickly say, you know, you’re not eligible for those programs anymore,” said Ron Maynard, a fairy farmer for four decades.

He said they need to be adaptable to changing weather patterns.

Tax changes are a bit of a mixed bag. The farm is the chief source of retirement savings for a farmer.

The higher limit of tax-free capital gains means more money in farmers’ pockets from that portion, but higher taxes on money beyond that could have a negative effect.

“Those capital gains, they’re not going to impact the farmer here in planting season, but over the longer term it will impact the value of the farm,” said Donald Killorn, executive director of the PEI Federation of Agriculture. “How much ends up in a farmer’s pocket when it does come time to pass the farm along?”

Another issue for farmers is the carbon tax.

While diesel used for farming is exempt, farms often use propane or other sources to heat barns or dry grains, which is taxed.

There's a new carbon rebate for small businesses, but it isn’t yet clear how that will affect farmers.

“The devil’s in the details, in that how much it will pertain to farmers and whether it amounts to any substantial amount is still a question,” said Maynard.

One good thing according to both Killorn and Maynard is the limit on interest-free government planting loans is more than doubling. Those are short term loans ahead of the season for the costs of planting, repaid after the crop is sold.

At $250,000, it's higher now than the $200,000 average used by farms across the country.

For more Prince Edward Island news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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