Wildrose releases agriculture policy

LETHBRIDGE — The Wildrose party has released its agricultural policy, saying its priority is to capitalize on expanding markets in China and India.

LETHBRIDGE — The Wildrose party has released its agricultural policy, saying its priority is to capitalize on expanding markets in China and India.

Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith says if her party formed the government, she would change the tax rules to encourage investment and competition.

She says that would include accelerated capital cost allowances, increased capital gains exemptions and income averaging trust accounts.

Smith says Alberta farmers face challenges in keeping generational farming alive and the best way to fix the situation is “to identify where government is getting in the way, and then to get the heck out of the way.”

But she says if Alberta producers are going to be successful, their products will need to reach international markets and a Wildrose government would help by reducing regulatory burdens.

She went on to tell how the party has heard from ranchers who pay an extra $85 in regulatory costs for every animal they produce in Canada.

“In many cases this is the difference between turning a profit, and taking a loss,” said Smith.

“It’s no wonder that we’re having trouble recruiting the next generation of producers. Their own government is standing in the way.”

She also said a Wildrose government would repeal bills that allow the government to buy land for large-scale, long-term transportation and water management projects such as ring roads and reservoirs; that regulate large-scale carbon capture and storage projects; that give the government a strong hand in regional planning; and that give the government control over the building of power lines in the province.

She said Bills 19, 24, 36 and 50 “in their own ways undermine property rights, limit compensation, and in some cases, eliminate recourse to the courts.”

Smith said the bills counteract investor confidence.

“Why would you go and invest all of your time and effort and money into building up the value of a business and building up the value of farming, so government can come along with a stroke of a pen and take it away from you without full compensation or recourse?” she asked.

“We absolutely must protect private property rights. This is a no brainer. Producers simply can’t plan or trust with confidence when the government is passing laws that threaten the very ownership of their land.”

She said the Wildrose party would create “appropriate” legislation and place a protection clause in the Alberta Bill of Rights, though she did not offer details.

The Wildrose also supports changing the Canadian Wheat Board to a dual market.

“The monopoly is the thing that’s caused the problem for the last number of decades, and that is a reason why we’ve seen so many farmers want to see marketing choice,” she said.

The party would overhaul the province’s agriculture disaster relief programs, and create a more transparent insurance policy.

“One of the things we often hear about with insurance programs is that they don’t produce fast enough relief,” she said.

“We want to make sure that we’ve got targeted, specific disaster relief, so that we can give more dollars to the people who are the most harmed, and then they’ll be able to pick up and move on, and get over it as fast as possible.”

Smith noted that like all Wildrose policies, the agriculture policy is not set in stone.

“We don’t have all the answers and we’re not going to pretend that we do, but we do know that government usually does more harm than good when it tries to do too many things,” she said.

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