How to get started as a farmer in Alberta’s rural heartland
Farm and home have been the bread and butter of Alberta’s farming community for decades.
However, as more and more rural residents moved to urban centres and urban areas with more expensive housing, it became increasingly difficult to afford a large farm.
In the early 2000s, Alberta became one of the first jurisdictions in North America to implement an Agricultural Land Management Act.
Under this legislation, farm producers and sellers could no longer claim farm income as an income source for tax purposes, and a farm was required to be registered with the province.
Under the Agricultural Land Development Act, the new law created a new type of farmer, one who grows and sells his or her own crop.
This new class of farmer would be able to deduct the cost of the farm from their tax bill.
This allowed farm owners to reduce their income tax liability.
Farmers in Alberta are currently exempt from the provincial excise tax on grain, dairy products and fruit and vegetables.
As a result, a growing number of rural Alberta farms are beginning to reap the benefits of the new legislation.
Many Alberta farmers are already enjoying the benefits.
For example, Alberta farmer Kevin Coyle was recently named as the 2014 recipient of the Canada Food Grant for his large-scale corn farm.
According to Coyle, his farm was one of several large farm that were approved for the grant.
“The benefits are huge,” said Coyle.
“I think the government has done a good job of getting the recognition and getting the industry to recognize the value of this program.
It’s very important for me to have a farm that is in operation.
It keeps me from having to make a lot of changes.”
As farmers across the province continue to reap benefits from the new agricultural law, they are also starting to feel the pain of the increased cost of land and infrastructure.
“I think it’s fair to say that it’s a lot harder to buy land in Alberta now than it was,” said Dan Kalkat, the president of the Alberta Association of Farm and Community Organizations.
“Farmers are facing a much higher cost of living, and the land is becoming less and less attractive as we move forward.”
Kalkat added that the rural Alberta community is facing increased financial pressure because of the Agricultural Development Act and the higher costs of living in the province.
“There are a lot more factors that have to be taken into account, and they have to have an impact on the economy,” said Kalkid.
“The government has not been very supportive of rural development.
They have not been particularly supportive of new development, either.”
Farmers and landowners across Alberta have been asking the province to increase the minimum wage, which currently sits at $11.50 an hour.
According the Association of Alberta Farmers, Alberta is one of only two provinces that has not increased its minimum wage since 2010.
While the minimum wages of many of Alberta and Canadian farms are rising, the average farm bill is going up.
The average farm income in Alberta has increased by $2,935 over the past year, or almost 4 per cent.
In Canada, the median farm income is $32,000.
However, many rural Albertans say they are concerned about the cost and lack of certainty associated with the new Agricultural Land Developement Act.
“This is a massive amount of money that has been invested, and we’re seeing the fruits of it now,” said Kyle St. Clair, a member of the local farmer’s association.
“It’s going to take some time for the government to see that it really can deliver the benefits.”
St. Clair said that he feels it’s unfair that the farm is taxed at the higher rate of the provincial government, and that it will be too difficult to adjust to the increase in farm costs as a result of the legislation.
“It’s a bit of a catch-22,” he said.
“You can’t get rid of it, but you can’t move it, either.
It doesn’t make any sense to us.
The farm is our livelihood, and our family’s livelihood is going to be affected by this.”