Tips & advice

Have You Thanked Your Local Farmer Today?

There’s just something about buying your produce at the local Farmer’s Market that makes it taste that much fresher.   And it’s not just limited to summer now, either.  Many communities now feature year-round farmers’ markets, which in many cases have turned into much-loved community gathering spots.

And certainly, the movements around eating local and supporting local farmers have heightened awareness of the importance of preserving and celebrating local agriculture.   Yet it’s really the best and worst of times for our farmers.    While local farming has enjoyed a revival, there’s still a lot of volatility with gas prices and instability on the world markets, among other issues.

Fortunately in Canada, there are a variety of tax incentives for farmers – all of which depend on certain factors, including whether or not farming is a full or part-time occupation.  For example, many farmers can qualify for farm business expenses deductions including interest on loans; investment tax credits or capital gains exemptions are also often available.  The Federal government also offers a joint business risk management programs with the provinces and territories called AgriStability and AgriInvest.  These help protect farms from drops in income.

In many cases, the family farm can be rolled-over to children tax-free.   But take note:  being a hobby farmer doesn’t count (sorry, growing a patch of carrots in your backyard does not make you a farmer, at least in the eyes of the Canada Revenue Agency).   In other words, if you don’t have an expectation of profit, you have a hobby – not a business.

Despite the positives though, there’s no question that farmers are subject to a variety of circumstances that are beyond their control – everything from the weather to government policy.  And it’s important for farmers to be aware of all of the resources available to them to ensure they’re maximizing their returns.

So the next time you’re enjoying the Farmer’s Market, think about the risks they take to bring you the food you love.  And who knows – a little thanks may even net you a baker’s dozen on your next produce purchase.