Ontario Agriculture

The network for agriculture in Ontario, Canada

http://www.lfpress.com/news/london/2010/02/16/12895161.html

before long they'll be asking for another 300m saying they can't afford to go on. tobacco is giving the rest of ag a bad name with their hands always out. time to let them find other crops on their own.

Ontario tobacco growers who took federal buyout money are exploiting loopholes to keep growing the crop, an anti-smoking lobby charges.

While virtually every Ontario producer took the buyout last year, the province still produced the same size crop in 2009 as it did in 2008 before the incentive to get out of the business kicked in.

If the program isn't getting growers out of the industry, it's "a colossal waste of money," says the federal Liberal health critic.

"Even if it follows the letter of the law, it's not the spirit," said Toronto MP Carolyn Bennett, a doctor. "I don't think the auditor-general would be happy with the way the government is spending this money."

Tobacco farmers were paid $286 million in compensation last year when the tobacco production quota system was scrapped and replaced with a new licensing system.

All but 18 growers took the buyout, averaging about $275,000, agreeing never to grow tobacco again.

But 118 growers were licensed last summer under the new system and an estimated 22-million-pound crop was produced, the same as in 2008.

Many people who hold the new tobacco licences struck deals with experienced growers who took the buyout, said Neil Collishaw of Ottawa-based Physicians for a Smoke-free Canada.

"Licences have been issued to non-farmers, sometimes living in distant communities, who provide legal cover to tobacco farmers who have been paid to stop growing tobacco, but are continuing to farm the same quantities on the same land," he said.

Collishaw said people have told him about tobacco farmers growing the crop for relatives or friends who are tobacco licence holders.

The Free Press was contacted by a former grower and a neighbour of a grower who confirmed Collishaw's claims about loopholes.

But Fred Neukamm, chairperson of the Ontario Flue-Cured Tobacco Grower Marketing Board, said the buyout program wasn't aimed at eliminating all tobacco production in Canada.

He said growers who took the buyout are legally allowed to work for a licence holder.

With a major investment in tobacco land and equipment, he said, many growers had no viable alternative crop.

"People are stuck with debt and stranded infrastructure with no viable transitional opportunities, so they are forced to seek employment," Neukamm said.

Last May, an Agriculture Canada deputy minister sent a letter to the tobacco board advising that farmers who took the buyout could work for a licence holder if the relationship was at "arm's length" and any payments for services were at "fair market value."

Agriculture Canada's Patrick Girard said the quota buyout program was put in place "to assist those farmers exiting the program to pursue new opportunities in agriculture."

He said any farmer who breaches the buyout program's conditions will have to repay the assistance they received, plus interest.

Last April, federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz moved to tighten up the buyout program by requiring licence holders to sign a declaration saying they're not receiving money from the quota buyout program.

Farmers who took the buyout couldn't be a partner or shareholder in a licensed tobacco operation.

But Collishaw said former growers still have the chance to get lucrative salaries from licensees to grow the crop.

The tobacco licensees were also eligible for a federal interest-free advance payout program offered to agricultural producers.

Neukamm said the tobacco board is working "rigorously" to prevent any abuse of the system, requiring full disclosure from licence holders who rent land or equipment from a farmer who took the buyout.

The tobacco marketing board, which once served the interests of thousands of tobacco growers, is now a small government-appointed agency that oversees and enforces tobacco licensing. Its employees have shrunk from 15 to two and its Tillsonburg headquarters has been sold.

Neukamm said Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada appeared to be on a "witch hunt" for tobacco farmers and should devote more effort to urging the federal government to curb the growing market for untaxed contraband tobacco.

Collishaw said the number of tobacco licences granted in Ontario is likely to grow next year.

Neukamm said more licences are possible because the production of Ontario tobacco lags behind the demand by manufacturers serving the Canadian market.

Views: 306

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

what happened here will make it difficult for a good longterm planning for the futhure of all agriculture supported by our prov. and federal treasures.
any program will need a clause to protect the programs from legal abuse of the system.

Reply to Discussion

RSS

Agriculture Headlines from Farms.com Canada East News - click on title for full story

Saskatchewan Crop Conditions Up from a Year Ago

The first Saskatchewan crop condition ratings for the 2024 growing season are mostly up from a year ago, although the scope of improvement is variable. The weekly provincial crop report on Thursday pegged this year’s spring wheat crop at 87% good to excellent as of Monday, up a relatively modest 6 points from a year earlier, while the oat and barley ratings were 2 and 5 points higher, respectively, at 87% good to excellent for both. At 78% good to excellent, the condition of the canola crop was just a single point above a year ago. On the other hand, the condition of the durum crop was rated 93% good to excellent as of Monday, an increase of 21 points from a year ago, while the lentil crop was 15 points better at 90% and the chickpea crop a major 31 points higher at 95%. Gains for other crops fell somewhere in between. At 91% good to excellent, the condition of the flax crop was up 8 points on the year, with mustard up 14 points to 88%, and peas up 9 points to 91%. The canary cro

New Grading Changes Coming for the 2024-25 Crop Year

The Canadian Grain Commission has announced new grading changes for the upcoming 2024-25 crop year that it says will better meet the needs of the grain sector in Canada and grain buyers around the world. Among the changes are new variety designation lists for food barley, and updates to the assessment of seed coat discolouration in soybeans. According to a CGC release, food barley varieties are unique and different from malting or feed barley varieties due to the distinct quality features desired for food, such as high beta-glucans. And to ensure Canadian producers and the agriculture sector can realize the benefits of developing and growing these varieties, the CGC is creating variety designation lists for Barley, Canada Eastern Food, which will take effect on July 1, 2024, and Barley, Canada Western Food, which will take effect on Aug. 1, 2024. Meanwhile, as part of the CGC grain grading modernization project, the official Grain Grading Guide will be updated to clarify the asse

Alberta Seeding Complete; Crop Emergence on Track with Average

The final push was delayed by rain in some parts of the province last week, but Alberta seeding is virtually now complete.  Friday’s crop showed the planting of Alberta major crops (spring wheat, oats, barley, canola, and peas) at 99.6% complete as of Tuesday, up a few points from a week earlier and in line with the five- and 10-year averages of 99.4% and 98.7%.  The report said final seeding efforts in the Central, North East, and North West regions were slowed by rain that was accompanied by persistent strong winds that led to an overall reduction in surface soil moisture in all areas but the Peace Region.   Regardless, crop growth is off to a good start, with the South Region in need of timely rains while the rest of the province needs warmer temperatures, the report said.  The emergence of major crops across the province is reported at 86%, which matches both the 5- and 10-year averages. Regionally, emergence of major crops is behind the historical average in the South and Nort

Automation, robotics helping farmers strengthen food security

B.C. farmers are accessing new technology through federal and provincial government funding to grow their businesses and increase production to help strengthen food security in the province.

© 2024   Created by Darren Marsland.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service