Ontario Agriculture

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The weekend was very productive, the work on the new combine is ahead of schedule, finished up a bit of preventative maintenance on some equipment.  All in an attempt to put off the paperwork.  Some things just can't be put off too long without dire consequences.  

Last year I purchased my home farm, or more properly put, I took ownership of a big mortgage.  With the transfer of land, however, MPAC, the municipal property assessment corp, requires new proof that my 100 acres is in fact farm land and grossing over $7,000 per year.  If they don't get this proof my tax rate goes up 4 fold.  In steps the bureaucracy.  To "prove" i am farming my land I must obtain an FBR (Farm Business Registration) number.  Applications are relatively easy, over the phone, through Agricorp, the same place that has been providing me crop insurance and receiving yield data from me for the last 4 years.  But all that history, for the same farm land, isn't enough.  They need my 2011 tax information.  When I made this call during the first week of January, i like every other farmer and corporation in the province didn't have the prior years data, given it only ended a few days prior.  So we agreed I would send in my 2010 tax information.  Seemed like a reasonable solution - it wasn't.  No they had to have 2011 data.  So I did the income portion of my farm taxes, and sent an unaudited, unofficial, unfilled copy into agricorp.  Well, this paper work was good enough to my great surprise.  Now I have an FBR number, but it won't be valid until i join 1 of 3 farm organizations recognized in the province and pay the cost of membership.

A few weeks pass, and now I receive mail from the municipality of Chatham-Kent that my "no longer farm land" will be taxed at a higher rate and I only have until March to make changes.  So I call MPAC to tell them my FBR number to get this farm tax issue fixed....ah no.  they need to be told by OMAFRA that the land qualifies.  Now OMAFRA can't use this FBR number by simply making a phone call, they need an application mailed to them, and multiple forms filled out since this is a start up operation.  But they will mail all this to me, in two separate envelopes - model of efficiency in this agency.  So its clear I am not going to get my property tax issue fixed today, I figure I will call up the one of three farm organizations and join so the FBR number is fully active when all this paperwork crosses the right desk.  The people on the other end of the phone are very helpful, but I can't join, I must pay through Agricorp.  Apparently they should send me a form to select who i will join and send them the check - who then forwards it on to the organization.  I am sure that is where I started this whole process at the start of the month.

Surprisingly i still wasn't upset.  But then i got to thinking how much bureaucratic BS is being introduced into agriculture.  When I sell grain the GFO takes money off my check - forced membership based on bushels, but not good enough to prove I am a farmer.  Thought that was strange, the GFO would have all the info needed, oh wait Agricorp already had that in actuality.  I am sure this mess will get resolved over the land tax, but what about all the rest.

To be a farmer i have registered for a GST number, obtained a pesticide license, filled farm income tax forms, obtained permits to shoot to scare migratory birds, paid the GFO, registered for some number so i can buy roundup ready seed.  But that still isn't enough to be a farmer.  

I am so looking forward to the day when farmers tell the bureaucrats to get the heck out of agriculture.  How long do you think it will take them to realize you can't eat forms, permits, licenses, registrations, and memberships? 

I farm because thats what I do, there was a time when that was all it took.

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