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Thread: Stable Funding BCAC, Dist A FI and Alberta Proposal for Comparison

  1. #1
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    Stable Funding BCAC, Dist A FI and Alberta Proposal for Comparison

    Dear All,

    There is an ongoing discussion about stable funding for the BCAC. The proposal is now being considered by the BCAC and other government agencies in BC. We are being asked to support this initiative by Dennis Lapierre, the seat holder for Community Agriculture (one seat) on the BCAC Board of Directors (10 seats).

    We still have no details on what the arrangement in BC will be. We know they are considering a collection of money from farmers in BC, based on farm status and a levy per farm (like a tax) which will be facilitated through BC Assessment Authority. From John Wilcox: "Farm Registration - last time (a negative billing option) - had it been implemented, was also to be a farm license tax on the "bona fide" farmer (a farm operator defined by gross income of $10,000 a year). Stable Funding (Farm Registration) would have eliminated half the farms in the province from the BC farm roster had it been enacted back then. The small, part time and start up farmers would have been scrubbed from all government programs and taxed Residential for existing on BC Ag Lands."

    We have been offered one kind of structure, and we have no idea what this will cost each farmer if it goes ahead. I am referring this proposal from Alberta to show how other possible structures might work.

    One way of doing this might be to take farm taxes collected municipally (already collected and in place as part of the municipal tax base) and apply them to a stable funding for agriculture organization model.

    We are concerned that the ratio of farm tax payers in relation to the proportional representation in the BCAC would not be equitable.

    Please give us feedback on this. We will be meeting with Dennis and Garnet Etsell (BCAC EXEC DIRECTOR) in the near future.

    My thanks to John Wilcox who has researched this for us.

    Jenny MacLeod

    Secretary

    District A Farmers Institutes



    A Need

    For

    Fair and Equitable Funding

    For

    General Farm Organizations

    In Alberta

    - 2 - 2

    Executive Summary

    General Farm Organizations work on behalf of all farmers and ranchers to address issues and needs that are of a comprehensive nature. General Farm Organizations, such as Wild Rose Agricultural Producers, do not participate in the marketing or sale of agricultural products.

    Alberta needs to catch up with other provinces and have their proper place in Confederation regarding primary producer representation at the federal level. It is unacceptable that we, as Albertans, have allowed a situation to develop whereby federal agricultural policy is often determined by strong farm organizations from every other province in Canada. Considering the many issues facing the primary agricultural industry, we believe it is now time for the Alberta government to rethink how Alberta’s General Farm Organizations are structured and funded. Serious discussion needs to be undertaken to determine how stronger, better-funded, democratically driven, General Farm Organizations could exist to better represent Alberta producers at the federal level.

    Alberta farmers have always recognized the necessity for General Farm Organizations. However, they have not been able to effectively develop a means by which stable funding can be collected from Alberta farmers to support such producer groups. To this point in time, Wild Rose Agricultural Producers and other General Farm Organizations in Alberta have had to rely on a voluntary individual membership structure that requires considerable human resources to make one on one personal contact to solicit membership. It has proven difficult for such a voluntary system to raise adequate funds needed to effectively operate General Farm Organizations in this province. More financial resources are needed for Alberta to have strong General Farm Organizations.

    A number of different methods of establishing broad-based long-term stable funding for General Farm Organizations in Alberta have been analyzed and discussed. The preferred choice of mechanism seems to be some type of check-off on farm vehicle license plates.

    Wild Rose Agricultural Producers is proposing a system whereby Alberta farmers would annually be given the choice of supporting their preferred General Farm Organization with a supplementary fee on each farm license plate. We believe that a refundable levy somewhere between $5 and $10 per farm vehicle would potentially provide sufficient funding to operate effective General Farm Organizations in Alberta.

    Our first objective is to get everyone to agree on the need for stable funding. We can work together to determine the most efficient and acceptable way to collect the money from the procucers of Alberta. - 3 - 3

    A proposal to provide assured stable funding for Albertas' General Farm Organizations




    Contact me for the whole study. I will send it to you so you can continue- Jenny- hughjenny@shaw.ca
    Last edited by Jenny MacLeod; April 13th,2010 at 12:06 PM. Reason: not enough room to get the whole study in

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    Hi Jenny,

    The main reason we need stable funding is to have a way to get every farmer or land owner who benefits from agriculture organizations work lobbying Gov't and developing policies to help pay for these farm organizations.

    Too many agricutural land owners get a free or subsidized ride on the backs of a few volunteer farmers who maintain the farm organizations. If you get the benefits .. you can help pay !

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    We are not against the initiative. We want more information on how this will be applied. We also want to be assured that the money that is paid will result in a proportional representation for the small scale farm sector and all the other sectors in Community Agriculture. The BC Meat Regs were not addressed in 2007 because the BCAC board could not come to a consensus decision about them. This meant that the urgent issue for Community agriculture did not get addressed in a timely or effective manner.
    There is more to this than just a yes or a no response.

  4. #4
    Dennis Lapierre
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    The BC Meat Regs example is not a good one to use.

    I'm not aware of the matter being put to significant discussion by the BCAC Board. Regrettably.

    So, it is not a case where the BCAC could not come to consensus. That is a misleading statement.

    As far as how stable funding will be applied is a fair question. Having researched what other provinces have done as part a research project, I know there are several examples out there in other Canadian provinces worth considering as far as the funding approach is concerned. How it will, or can be applied, however, remains a question. It is worth a few modelling exercises. On behalf of the community ag sector, I would hope that it would help facilitate some of the things groups within the sector can't seem to generate funds within their own organizations for. Perhaps not membership costs, but perhaps covering some meeting costs, for example. Kind of all depends on what the gross income would be, what the net available dollars would be after increasing the functional capacity of the BCAC (based on level-of-service expectations of the membership), and the like.

    I don't understand the comment about proportional representation. Perhaps you can expand on just what you mean.

  5. #5

    Some provincial sheep producer groups have check-off. Unfortunately, BC did not opt in when they could have. I agree with Jenny; there are still lots of questions to be answered.

    Kathy

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    I think the 2 means of collection of a levy (via property tax or farm vehicle plate) that have been mentioned are pretty good ones. Both represent collection of fees at a source of considerable monetary value for the “farm” being accessed. As someone else mentioned there are too many BC farmers of one type or another riding on the shirt tails of those willing to do a lot of voluntary work on their behalf. It seems there must be a way to find out how many properties are assessed as farms and how many vehicles are licensed as farm vehicles. Sorting out the actual assessment would then be simply a matter of dividing the number of “farms” into the amount the BCAC needs. I wonder how many small farms with status don’t have a farm vehicle and how many of the bigger farms use fleet plates? Still either of these means seems to me to be a good one to tease out the bulk of the people that are benefiting by being “farms”.
    In my mind however, I’m having trouble trying to figure out how the BC Ag Counsel would differ in actual function/ability to support all of those they would then represent (after all the little guys pay up…however that may be). There would still be small numbers of producers (i.e. the turkey people) who have a full seat and large numbers of producers or in the case of the small producers a hugely disproportionate number of producers having what? One or part of one? Somehow it doesn’t seem to be a satisfactory outcome achieved by taxing farmers into participation.
    I feel more inclined to support the concept that has been mentioned twice before (in the Alberta discussion recently re-introduced by John Wilcox and by Barb Grimmer a while back): “Tax” every farm that is benefiting from being a farm but allow them to decide where they want their money to go. The options I feel should be organizations with a Provincial and even better also a Federal standing not just a localized one. Obviously if I were one of the handful of turkey producers I would stick with the BCAC, the same if I were one of the larger group of horse folks. However, since I am a sheep farmer who would benefit directly IF BC had a viable sheep association in I would put my money there willingly. If instead I am forced to give it to the BCAC I would expect (but in my mind less likely to receive) something of direct benefit to my farm.
    If this were done it would be interesting to see who was left at the BCAC table. After reading some of the things coming from the BCAC counsel, I've been left wondering if some of the larger groups aren’t at that table simply to do damage control so the council doesn't get in the way of their own more effective and better funded commodity orgs. My guess is it would be those who actually benefit and perhaps with a smaller number of members they could spend more time and have enough money to represent those that they are benefiting instead of creating more grief for themselves by having a large number of unwilling “participants”.
    As to the slaughter plant issue, I seriously doubt that since the BC Cattleman’s Association voted NOT to oppose the move to require inspection that issue would ever have been seriously considered by the BCAC so as Dennis mentioned it was never a matter of not reaching consensus. While I don’t know but I’m guessing the other large commodity groups were also supportive of the move to inspection and that has paid off since the Federal Gov. is now moving ahead to allow all “provincially inspected” plants to “export” into other provinces.
    Last edited by ewe4ic; December 7th,2010 at 04:51 PM.

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