Regina, January 24, 2013 – On day four of Red Tape Awareness Week™, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is putting a spotlight on the negative impact red tape has on Canada’s farmers. Most businesses cite red tape as their second highest concern behind the total tax burden, but recent CFIB data puts red tape at the top of the list of farmers’ concerns (79 per cent). Farmers are also the most likely to say the burden of red tape has grown: 72 per cent report the burden has increased over the past 3 years, compared to 55 per cent among all other sectors.
“Over-regulation, confusing paperwork, and bad customer service are crippling agriculture businesses and stifling innovation. This is a concern to all Canadians, as it is a critical sector employing two million Canadians and generating over $44 billion worth of our trade,” said Marilyn Braun-Pollon, CFIB’s vice-president for Agri-business.
CFIB’s survey finds 69 per cent of agri-business owners say red tape significantly reduces productivity in their businesses. Eighty-seven per cent of farmers say that excessive regulations add significant stress to their lives, compared to 80 per cent among other small business owners. Sixty-eight per cent of farmers say red tape discourages them from growing their businesses, compared to 62 per cent of other business owners.
“Farmers have no issue with the legitimate rules; but red tape is something else,” said Braun-Pollon.
“For farmers, red tape takes many forms; it can be contradictory information from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), a dumb rule from Fisheries and Oceans saying you can’t clean out a man-made ditch or a Statistics Canada survey filled with questions that don’t apply to their business. It all adds up to a lot of wasted time and money.”
Survey comments reveal farmers’ frustration with regulators who often don’t understand the challenges of running a farm. For example, a number of respondents complained that Statistics Canada often sends surveys during spring seeding – one of the busiest times of the year for farmers. Farmers are twice as likely to cite Statistics Canada surveys as burdensome compared to other businesses (50 per cent vs 25 per cent, respectively).
“Farmers feel really disrespected by government agencies that don’t understand there are two really busy times of year — seeding and harvesting. Asking business owners to meet compliance deadlines during these two peak seasons is the equivalent of CRA trying to do a retail audit on Boxing Day,” said Braun-Pollon.
Twenty-eight per cent of farmers say that if they had known about the burden of regulations, they may not have gone into business. “Succession is a big issue—we are concerned red tape will stop the next generation of farmers from wanting to get into the business,” added Braun-Pollon.
“There have been some recent government actions that give us hope, including some initiatives by the CFIA, but more work is required to reduce red tape so farmers feel some relief and can continue to provide safe, high-quality food for Canadians,” concluded Braun-Pollon.
Canadians are encouraged to show their support for CFIB’s Red Tape Revolution by signing the petition (go to http://www.cfib-fcei.ca/english/article/4659-red-tape-awareness-week-2013.html).
CFIB is the business voice for agriculture, representing 7,200 independently owned and operated agribusinesses in the country, the majority of which are primary producers.