B.C. Agriculture Council in favour of keeping HST

As an organization that represents thousands of farmers and ranchers from across the province, the B.C. Agriculture Council is clearly and unequivocally in favour of retaining the HST, and not going back to the archaic dual tax system of the GST plus PS

Dear Editor:

As an organization that represents thousands of farmers and ranchers from across the province, the B.C. Agriculture Council is clearly and unequivocally in favour of retaining the HST, and not going back to the archaic dual tax system of the GST plus PST.

It would appear from the statements coming from both the FightHST group and, more recently, from the B.C. NDP, that both groups do not appreciate that B.C. farm businesses have benefited from the implementation of the HST.  Of particular concern is the ongoing messaging that the HST is somehow a massive tax shift from “big business“ to families and small businesses.

Do B.C. farm families who run small businesses not count in this equation?  They certainly do benefit from the HST, and would like desperately to keep it in place.

The reason we say “desperately” is because the sector is hurting.

This reality is reflected in Statistics Canada numbers, which show that B.C. agriculture has been in negative net farm income territory for five consecutive years.  While the overall annual benefit of the HST, an estimated $15 to $20 million to agriculture’s bottom line, makes up only a portion of the loss in farm income, it is the first substantively beneficial policy change for B.C. agriculture that has been made by any provincial government in many years.

B.C. farmers are so positive about the HST system because the old PST system was, quite simply, broken.

The implementation of the HST simplified and fixed the broken PST system – and it has put B.C. farm families in a better position to compete with lower priced imported products, which benefits all British Columbians.

Garnet Etsell

Chair, B.C. Agriculture Council

Abbotsford