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There are several pieces of legislation before the federal Parliament that could benefit Alberta farmers, but are at risk if an election is called before they can be passed.
One of them is Bill C-208, which would eliminate unfair tax rates on farm families and small businesses, giving them the same tax rate when selling their business or farm to a family member as they would if selling to a non-family member or third-party buyer.
Currently, when a family farm or small business is sold to a family member, the difference between the sale price and the original purchase price is considered a dividend. If the same business or farm is sold to a third-party, it’s classified as a capital gain and is then taxed at a much lower rate.
This simply isn’t logical or fair, and it creates a financial incentive to sell off family farms – disrupting rural communities and encouraging the consolidation of land ownership. I want to see the next generation become farmers and small business owners – and carry on family businesses and farms in their rural towns and counties.
The essence of bill C-208 is straightforward – give the same tax rate when selling operations to a family member as they would to a stranger. Although the bill has passed through the Senate Agriculture and Forestry Committee, it’s not yet scheduled for a vote. With Parliament set to rise, I am urging the Senate to work quickly to pass this bill for the benefit of Canadian farmers.
Family farms and small businesses are the foundation of our rural communities. It’s not easy to start a business or keep a family farm running, so we need to protect the hard work that has gone into building these operations. We can do that by giving these folks a better chance to see their legacy remain in their family.
As the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry for the Government of Alberta, a key part of my job is to advocate for farmers and the agriculture sector. That’s why I’m urging the Senate to pass bill C-208 before Parliament rises this summer.
Devin Dreeshen served as Minister of Agriculture and Forestry from April 30, 2019 to November 5, 2021.