Provincial Agriculture Minister Don McRae returned to a Ladner greenhouse Tuesday to announce more than $7 million in carbon tax relief for greenhouse growers.
McRae was at Village Farms to announce a onetime grant of $7.6 million in carbon tax relief for the province's greenhouse vegetable and floriculture growers.
"B.C.'s greenhouse growers are among the most innovative, technically advanced and sustainably managed producers in the world," McRae said. "Providing the sector with carbon tax relief is one of 49 actions identified in the B.C. Jobs Plan Agrifoods Strategy that will lead our agrifoods sector to becoming a $14-billion-ayear industry by 2017."
McRae was at the same greenhouse last summer to discuss growers' concerns around the carbon tax at a meeting arranged by Delta South MLA Vicki Huntington, who said Tuesday she was happy to see the government step in with some help for greenhouse operators.
"I'm really pleased to hear that announcement," Huntington said, adding greenhouse growers were hit particularly hard by the tax because many modernized their operations before the carbon tax was implemented and, therefore, did not qualify for any carbon offsets.
The provincial government is providing the temporary funding in recognition of the impact of the carbon tax cost on the natural gas and propane that greenhouse growers use for heating and carbon dioxide production.
The grant is only available in 2012. However, the government is planning to review over the next year the carbon tax and its impact on British Columbians.
Even though it's temporary, the grant funding was welcome news.
"The bottom line is B.C. growers will be able to better compete with producers in the U.S.A. and Mexico as a result of the carbon tax grant," said Peter Cummings, president of the B.C. Greenhouse Growers' Association. "Today's announcement is the results of consultations we've had with the B.C. government through the B.C. Jobs Plan, and we look forward to focusing on building B.C.'s share of the greenhouse vegetable market."
Of the $7.6 million, $6 million will be made available for grants for greenhouse vegetable growers while the remaining $1.6 million is slated for floriculture growers.
In order to be eligible for a grant, greenhouse growers must be in operation in 2012, have had 2011 sales greater than $20,000, use at least 455 square metres for commercial production and be able to include 2011 fuel receipts with the application.