Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick and Finance Minister Michael de Jong announced the program during a visit to Burnaby Lake Greenhouses in Surrey, B.C.
"Our government remains committed to our objective of lowering greenhouse gas emissions, while recognizing the unique circumstances faced by B.C.'s greenhouse industry. B.C. greenhouse growers have invested heavily in technology and innovation, with sales over $500 million in 2011, and the B.C. government wants to support and sustain that growth,” said Letnick.
“Providing relief to the greenhouse sector recognizes that although it is not the only industry with competitiveness challenges, greenhouse growers are distinct from most others in that they need carbon dioxide and purposely produce it because it is essential for plant growth,” added de Jong. “Maintaining the affordability and competitiveness of locally produced agricultural products is essential.”
Eligibility criteria will be similar to those for the 2012 temporary carbon tax relief grant program for commercial greenhouse vegetable and floriculture growers. The grant will be available for 2013 and future years, and will be set at 80 per cent of the carbon tax paid on natural gas and propane used for heating and CO2 production.
To be eligible, operators must:
- Have a minimum of 5,000 square feet (455 square metres) of heated greenhouse production space.
- Have at least 75 per cent of their total B.C. commercial greenhouse production area dedicated to the production of the following eligible products: vegetables, floriculture, nursery crops, and forest seedlings.
- Be using natural gas or propane for greenhouse heating and/or the production of CO2.
- Have annual sales exceeding $20,000
The grants will be based on the volumes of fuel used by eligible operators for eligible crop production in 2012 multiplied by 2013 carbon tax rates, which are 148.98 cents per Giga Joule (5.70 ¢/m3) for natural gas and 4.62 cents per litre for propane.
“The total economic impact of the horticulture sector in British Columbia is $2.03 billion and 25,065 jobs. This carbon tax rebate will enable B.C.’s nursery growers to be competitive within B.C. and across North America, wherever B.C.’s top quality plants are shipped,” said Tim Loewen, chair of the B.C. Landscape Nursery Association.
Interested producers should visit www.gov.bc.ca/agri or contact their respective industry association for application forms, details and deadlines. Application packages will be available before May 1.
The B.C. government also intends to introduce legislation this fall to provide a carbon tax exemption for farmers for the same coloured motor fuels, and uses, they are currently able to purchase exempt from motor fuel tax.
The carbon tax exemption for farmers and the carbon tax relief grants for greenhouse operators will provide