Dec. 15, 2010, Guelph, Ont. – A decision by the provincial government to tax on-farm bunkhouses at the farm property class tax rate is being welcomed by the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association (OFVGA). These buildings had long been assessed as farm buildings for tax purposes, but some have started to become subject to residential assessment in recent years, resulting in dramatic and unexpected tax increases payable by some farmers.
“This decision is great news for Ontario's fruit and vegetable growers,” says OFVGA chairperson Brian Gilroy. “We have worked hard on behalf of our members to bring this matter to the attention of the government and we are pleased to see that they have listened to our concerns.”
Bunkhouses are seasonal on-farm accommodation for workers who are employed during the fruit and vegetable growing season and as such, are a very crucial component of the agriculture sector's need to ensure an adequate supply of farm employees to meet the seasonal requirements of farm businesses. This decision by the Ontario government will reduce farm property taxes for these dwellings by approximately 75 per cent.
"Many of our growers are struggling with low prices and rapidly increasing costs that make it challenging to compete in a global marketplace," says Gilroy. "Horticulture is a vital contributor of jobs and economic activity to this province and we appreciate this support from the government to help keep our sector viable."
Over the last several years, the OFVGA and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) have jointly led a lobby effort regarding this issue on behalf of their members. This lobby was also supported by other farm organizations.
“The OFA was very pleased to work with the horticulture industry to address this key property tax issue,” says OFA president Bette Jean Crews. “The recognition of appropriate taxation of farm assets is a vital issue for all farmers.”
The Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association is the voice of Ontario's 7,500 fruit, vegetable, and greenhouse farmers on issues affecting edible horticulture producers. The sector provides more than 30,000 on-farm jobs and supports another 8,700 jobs in the provincial food processing sector.