The candidates were asked about Support for New Entrant Farmers at the All Candidates Meeting held on Sept. 28th, 2011. The following is the question presented and below are the candidates responses. (Note: A submission from Rob Milligan, PC, has not been received yet)
The cost to purchase a farm includes a mandatory 20% down-payment, resulting in a prohibitive entry situation. There is a definite need to create purchase incentives for New Entrant Farmers. Small grants, start-up grants like the one Quebec has, Venture Capital programs or a financing program akin to the Registered Education Savings Plan – RESP, are a few ways to create fair financial incentives for New Entrant Farmers. If you are elected, will you champion any of these ideas? What will you do to support newly established local food and farm enterprises?
KIRA MEES, Ontario NDP
We will make it easier for young people to get started in farming. We will create a new apprenticeship program for young people to develop the skills they need for a successful farming career. Rural employers will be eligible for our training tax credit to help them invest in Ontario agricultural workers. Support is needed for young farmer organizations as they fulfill the important role of identifying challenges and developing solutions that work for young and beginning farmers. We will work with farmers’ organizations to develop incentives and programs to support succession planning of a farm between generations.
LOU RINALDI, Ontario Liberal Party (MPP)
One of the most positive changes we have made to help farmers is to exempt the land transfer tax for farms that change ownership between members of the same family — helping to preserve and strengthen our farms and help keep them in the family.
These and many more initiatives of the Ontario Liberals to support new farmers stand in stark contrast to the record of the PCs, who stood by and watched thousands of farm families pull up stakes and leave the sector, making no effort to understand what it was that farmers needed to stay on the land.
The FIT and microFIT programs have been a tremendous success for our farmers. The stable long-term income from these contracts improves the viability of agriculture, easing financial pressures and enabling farmers
to spend more time on the farm. Farmers and community groups can earn up to $10,000/year while generating clean energy for our grid and supporting Ontario jobs.
Unfortunately, the PCs and NDP would kill these programs, taking our clean environment backwards, and removing the ability of farmers to contribute to the green economy. This is consistent with the PC record of neglecting the energy sector and failing to make the investments needed to prevent smog and brownouts.
The NDP have pledged in their disappointing platform never to do business with private energy producers, including farmers: “electricity generation must be publicly owned…contracts with private power producers are not the way we will do business.” (NDP Platform, pg. 17)
By refusing to partner with the private sector, the NDP would snuff out the FIT and microFIT programs.
The Green Party of Ontario believes in strong, diverse farming communities and to achieve this goal we are allowing better regulations that fit the scope and scale of farming activities. We will allow more value-added production for farmers to make farming sustainable and we will enhance succession laws to allow the transfer of farms without undue penalties. Besides the 300 million dollars we are putting into farmer apprenticeships we would certainly consider the Quebec or tax free saving plan to enhance the purchase of new farms by young farmers.