Red tape is having a negative impact on Canadian farmers, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).
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 three 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.
A CFIB 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.
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.
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,” said Braun-Pollon.