From the Editor: January 2013

December 17, 2012
Written by
Rodney Dangerfield was one of the top comedians and comedic actors of the 1980s, known for his self-deprecating humour and the catchphrase, “I don’t get no respect.”

A sample quip? “My psychiatrist told me I was crazy and I said I want a second opinion. He said okay, you’re ugly too.”

Some would say the greenhouse sector, for a good number of years, didn’t get the respect and attention it deserved from senior levels of government. The perception was that other agricultural commodities may have received a little more support and encouragement.

But times have certainly changed. The 2009 report by Deloitte for the Canadian Ornamental Horticulture Alliance (COHA) could very well have been the turning point. The report was entitled, The Impact of Ornamental Horticulture on Canada’s Economy.

“The sector generates $3.8 billion in employment income and another $850 million in end-user taxes generated (PST and GST),” notes one section in the report. “Ornamentals are the only sector of agriculture that attracts GST at the first point of transfer in the value chain, from the producer to the wholesaler, retailer or final consumer. All other agriculture is zero-rated for GST purposes at the point at which the farmer sells to the next stage in the value chain.”

Perhaps the fact the ornamental sector generated so much tax revenue was one reason the industry was beginning to receive more political attention.

Or perhaps the many years of positive reports in the annual Stats Canada report, Greenhouse, Sod and Nursery Industries, were finally attracting attention. For example, the 2011 report noted that “in 2011, total greenhouse area was 23 million square metres, compared with 22.5 million square metres in 2010.” Sales on the ornamental side dropped a little in 2011, but the veg community increased by 5.5 per cent to reach $1.1 billion.

Overall, the greenhouse sector generates more than $2.1 billion at the farmgate and exports about $900 million worth of products.

A strong argument can be made that government support and encouragement is one of the major reasons the Dutch greenhouse industry has become the world leader in the greenhouse sector. It continues to grow in production, services and technology.

We’re now seeing similar attention from Canadian politicians and agencies who are quite keen to offer support. Over the past few years there has been a steady stream of funding announcements in support of the sector, both for crop research and for market development.
So what does all this mean for growers?

The industry is attracting attention and government support. There will be more market growth and sales opportunities.

With natural gas prices remaining quite low, and expected to remain so for a few more years at the very least, along with low financing costs, growers should take the opportunity to invest to modernize and optimize their facilities.

Now is the time to trial different crops, install new technologies and upgrade facilities and equipment. Make this your year to grow.

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