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N.S. wine industry says it needs provincial support to avoid potential collapse


What Wine Growers Nova Scotia is asking for is pretty straight forward, according to executive director Hayley Brown: A farm winery support program.

Nova Scotia wines used to be exempt from excise tax.

Australia lodged a complaint with the World Trade Organization, saying that was an unfair practice and the WTO agreed.

That meant the tax on Nova Scotia wines increased from a 43 per cent markup to a 140 per cent markup on April 1.

According to Hayley Brown, that could cut revenues by up to 50 per cent.

“Without any sort of program, our wineries cannot afford to sell into the NSLC. We will have to sell at a loss,” Brown says.

The wine industry creates 1,100 jobs and contributes $250 million annually to the economy.

Support programs are common in most wine producing regions in Canada and around the world.

“What it provides is a level playing field with the rest of Canada and long-term stability for the industry,” says Steve Ells, the president of the Grape Growers Association of Nova Scotia. “It’s hard to compete in a national or worldwide industry when you’re the least supported player in the game.”

Brown says similar programs already exist for poultry, dairy, wheat and barley.

British Columbia and Ontario have multiple programs supporting their wine industries. She says Nova Scotia producers are looking for just one.

According to Brown, the province’s premier, as well as the agriculture and finance ministers, have refused to meet with industry representatives to discuss support programs.

“We believe in having a good relationship with the province but we’re at a point where this government could be the government that takes down the wine industry” says Brown.

A potential collapse of an industry that has seen record growth year after year. Top Stories

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