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Farmer frustration at federal tax changes is subsiding, as Liberals make changes

Farmer frustration at federal tax changes is subsiding, as Liberals make changes
From CBC - November 15, 2017

Since their two children were born, Dave Bishop and his wife have long wonderedwhether either of their sons would ever want to one day takeover their farm near Lethbridge, Alta, which now spans about 3,500 acres of barley and other crops.

"As you can tell, I have got a little bit of grey hair, so it's not too many years away," says Bishop, the 57-year-old who also serves as vice-chair of Alberta Barley.

With their sons now in their late 20s and one of them interested in taking the reins of the farm, the family wanted to sit down this fall to start ironing out a plan. Their intentions were suddenly torn up when the federal government announced sweeping changes to tax policy for businesses last July.

The family was shocked, as they could see thefinancial costs of passing on the farm under the new system would now be massive.

'Fortunately they backed down on their changes.' -GregPorozni,AlbertaWheat Commission

"We were not sure of the total impact, but it really looked like it was going to be pretty negative," said Bishop."The more I thought about it, when they first announced that, the more I went, 'oh no, there are going to be a lot less family farms.' It looked like they were going to penalize you for handing down the farm to your son or daughter."

But facing backlash from a variety of business owners across the country, the federal government canceled some of its proposed changes, including the plan to tax farmers for passing on their assets to the next generation.

"I have been encouraged by what they have been changing. They are actually maybe listening to the farmer," said Bishop.

Bishop is not alone, as the revisions by Ottawa arealleviatingthe fears of many farmers.

"Fortunately they backed down on their changes," saysGreg Porozniwith the AlbertaWheat Commission. "We have a big sigh of relief."

The impending tax changes were the No. 1 concern for agricultural groups, but Poronzi says it is no longer a top priority since the federal government revised its plans.

"Farmers were concerned because of the fear of the unknown," says Poronzi. "We just knew there was going to be tax changes. A lot of farmers have a lot of assets. Not a lot of cash, but a lot of assets. So, we are very concerned when the government wants to start changing the capital gains exemption, tax deferrals, etc, etc."

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