There has been little backlash over a provincial tax increase to farm fuel, according to Keystone Agricultural Producers president Doug Chorney.
As of May 1, the province began collecting a new three-cent-per-litre tax on marked gasoline, often refered to as farm fuel.
Chorney said he hasn’t heard any complaints personally regarding the new tax, but cautioned that producers in Westman are unsettled over crumbling infrastructure that farmers depend on in the agricultural sector.
“Producers never like to see an increase in tax collection unless it is going perhaps directly to infrastructure, which is much needed to be repaired,” Chorney said. “You would see more support for the taxes on fuel if you could see some of the results.”
Chorney said bridges and roads in disrepair has limited access for many producers, particularily in the Westman area. He has heard from farmers concerned about access to stored grain in remote areas, adding that the challenges for farmers dealing with poor roads is becoming increasingly discouraging.
“It’s tremendously frustrating trying to get things done when you have all this extra time every day spent travelling,” Chorney said.
The fact that most machinery on the farm runs on marked diesel fuel, which remained unchanged by the province, meant the increase was minute, lessening the burden on local farmers.
In the past, farm fuel was available tax-free because it was mainly used in machinery that was operated on farmers’ fields, which didn’t cause additional strain on government infrastructure, such as roads.
Chorney said any time the government raises taxes and additional revenues on producers, KAP questions why the increases are necessary.
According to a provincial spokesman, the government is required “to spend every cent we collect in fuel taxes on transportation infrastructure,” as outlined in the Gas Tax Accountability Act.
Through the new tax, the government will generate an estimated additional $2.3 million per year.
“The Manitoba government is spending twice as much as it takes in through fuel tax revenue, on roads and related infrastructure, this year,” the spokesman added.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 23, 2012