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Farmers’ tax credits boosted in Man. budget

A grab bag of enhanced, expanded and/or newly-entrenched ag-related tax credits lead the line items on offer for farmers in Manitoba’s latest provincial budget.

Finance Minister Greg Selinger delivered the province’s budget Wednesday in Winnipeg, pledging a summary budget surplus of $48 million and that Manitoba’s planned tax cuts for 2009 would be reached without it going into deficit as other jurisdictions have done.

Addressing a perennial sore spot for some farmers, the province noted that it will increase its school tax rebate on farmland to 75 per cent in 2009, up from last year’s 70 per cent. More generally, the provincial Education Property Tax Credit will also rise by $50 to $650 a year in 2009.

Farmers are also expected to benefit from what Selinger described as “green tax initiatives,” such as:

  • doubled benefits to farmers and ranchers who “take action to protect riverbanks and lakeshore areas” under the Riparian Tax Credit;
  • making permanent the retail sales tax exemption on manure slurry tanks and lagoon liners;
  • extending the Odour Control Tax Credit until the end of 2011; and
  • extending the Green Energy Equipment Tax Credit to include solar thermal systems in addition to geothermal systems.

Other “green” initiatives include more resources for the inspection of livestock manure storage facilities and onsite wastewater facilities; “continuing investments” in wind power and other alternative energy sources; more scientific research to support “nutrient reduction options;” and development of further long-term objectives for nutrient reduction in the Lake Winnipeg basin.

The budget also calls for development of a new provincial wetland protection and restoration initiative, plus investment in restoration of the province’s “largest” marshes.

The budget also promises funding to expand food safety programs by increasing inspections of provincially-registered food processing and manufacturing facilities; introducing on-farm safety programs for livestock producers; developing a food safety database; and creating a food safety strategic plan.

As well, it pledges to boost animal welfare programs’ and laboratories’ capacities “to deal with animal diseases and help protect Manitoba’s livestock exports.”

The budget also calls for Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives to set up one of its GO Centres in northern Manitoba, “to support the production of local healthy foods in the north.”

For rural Manitoba, the budget for rural economic community development initiatives sees an 8.7 per cent increase. Access to the Rural Entrepreneur Assistance Program is to be increased for more businesses in rural Manitoba.

More generally, but also of interest to farmers, the budget also pledges funding to “implement legislation to protect foreign workers;” an extra $45,000 for new weather radio towers to provide better coverage across the province; and flood forecasting resources and “ice-jam mitigation efforts.”

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