Farmer launches campaign to nix PST on insurance

A couple of resolutions made the rounds at most of the annual general meetings held at CropSphere 2018.

One tabled by Dave Sefton, a farmer from Broadview, Sask., and director of SaskFlax, called on the provincial government to remove the provincial sales tax (PST) from insurance products.

He told growers attending a variety of AGM’s that “most if not all” of the Saskatchewan Party candidates vying to be the next premier agreed that insurance products should be exempt from the tax.

“You’re really taxing people from protecting their property and putting life insurance in place to protect their families from financial disaster,” Sefton said in an interview.

He said it is a big, new expense that can amount to tens of thousands of dollars for an individual farmer.

“Crop insurance premiums can range anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000, so six percent on $100,000 is $6,000,” said Sefton.

That is just one type of insurance farmers pay. There is life insurance and machinery insurance and many young farmers are forced to take out insurance on their debt.

Sefton hopes the new leader of the Saskatchewan Party will make the issue a priority and make the necessary changes in time for the 2018 budget.

The other resolution that came up at a lot of meetings was a call for the federal government to conduct a railway costing review.

Reviews are supposed to take place every five years but the last one was conducted in 1992.

“It has been a long time coming and long overdue,” said Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan president Todd Lewis, who tabled the resolution.

The Liberals promised a review during the federal election. Lewis said they have been busy trying to get the proposed Transportation Modernization Act through Parliament but once that happens, they should turn their attention to a costing review.

There has been plenty of consolidation in the railway industry since 1992. Sidings have been closed. There are fewer delivery points. And unit trains are commonplace.

Those cost efficiencies should be factored into the maximum revenue entitlement and the freight rates that farmers pay, said Lewis.

“That’s why we need a review to see if we’re paying the proper amount or not,” he said.

Both resolutions received support from farmers attending the annual general meetings.

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