Photo: Jacques Nadeau Le Devoir
According to the president of the UPA, taxation, agricultural land is a folder to set as a priority by elected officials.
This text is part of a special booklet.
In the wake of municipal elections, the regional federations and local unions of the UPA have met with the applicants to assert their claims. They have talked about including land use planning, property taxation, agri-environment, energy and telecommunications. Of the discussions, hopefully to the UPA, will not remain a dead letter.
Agricultural activities and municipal world are inseparable. However, in many cases, the municipal decision-makers can intervene to support the claims of the farmers from the governments of Quebec and Canada. According to Marcel Groleau, president of the UPA, taxation, agricultural land is the folder to treat as a priority.
The record of property taxes
The increase in the value of land, especially in the regions close to Montréal, such as the Montérégie and Lanaudière, causes harm to farmers. High taxes reduce the profitability of some farms. Although the reform of land taxes proposed in 2016 by the ex-minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Pierre Paradis (which resulted in an overall increase of 45 % of the taxes of the farmers) has been abandoned, the case is not settled for all that, according to Mr. Groleau.
“We want to sit down with the MAPAQ to address this issue,” says Groleau, who is always waiting for this meeting. The president of the UPA would like to including the introduction of a ceiling of the taxable value of agricultural land and a ceiling of the rate of taxation on agricultural buildings. He would like the municipalities to support his organization in its claims.
According to Groleau, it is not normal that the promoters who hold agricultural land for speculative purposes, and without the exploit sometimes, take advantage of the Programme de crédit de taxes foncières agricoles (PCFTA), which allows a refund of fees. And this, according to the same conditions as for farmers.
Emphasize the value of the agricultural land
Another important issue is the development of agricultural land. One of the ways to achieve this is to adopt a development Plan for the agricultural zone (PDZA). This plan, prepared by the MRC, is a planning tool that highlights the agricultural area by promoting the development of agriculture. The Commission de protection du territoire agricole must take this into account when it analyzes an application for authorisation for a use other than agriculture. “The PDZA allow an awareness of the value of agriculture and may lead the environment to make this activity a priority,” said Dr. Groleau.
Several MRC already have their PDZA while others engage in the exercise. In some cases, the PDZA have been made without the involvement of agricultural producers, says Groleau. “We would like to be a part of the process and we would ask that budgets be made available for the development and implementation of PDZA. “
Advice, agricultural advisory (CCA), that a number of RCMS have been put in place, can allow the implementation of the PDZA (the CCA is a structure provided for by the Law on land use planning and development, who is interested and considers any matter relating to agricultural activities). The UPA would like to see all of the MRC have a CCA and that the farmers are appointed by the UPA in their midst.
The situation in the Outaouais region
Thus, in the Outaouais region, the CCA of the City of Gatineau has been working to adopt a PDZA. The question of the PDZA has been the central object of the meetings held with the candidates for the municipal elections in the Outaouais region. “The MRC des Collines-de-l’outaouais launches the development of its PDZA,” says Stéphane Alary, producer and president of the Union of the UPA in the Collines-de-l’outaouais would like to see other MRCS in the region to follow suit. Mr. Alary has facilitated two meetings in the presence of municipal candidates prior to the elections, Gatineau and Chelsea.
Stéphane Alary believes that the PDZA are important because they, in particular, can encourage the next generation. “In our region, it is sometimes difficult to interest young people in agriculture, since the urban areas of Ottawa and Gatineau offer well-paying jobs,” he said. Among other topics of discussion, it was also a way of encouraging agro-tourism.
Improve the services offered to farmers
One of the key points to develop the agro-tourism is to have the best telecommunications services, such as broadband Internet. Mr. Groleau deplores the fact that several regions still do not have such a service. “To book a place in a place of agro-tourism, the Internet broadband is essential. “
The cellular signal is not present everywhere, and this is not only the prerogative of the remote areas. “Recently, I was at Hemmingford and I had almost no cell-signal “, he said, while Hemmingford is, however, a municipality close enough to Montreal.
The UPA would also like to see all forms of energy (natural gas, propane, electricity, etc) are accessible at affordable cost in all the rural areas and adapted to the various productions.
The Montérégie proactive
Among the agricultural regions that were highly active in asserting their claims, it is the Montérégie region. “We made a video to raise awareness in the municipal world to the importance of agriculture in the region,” said Chantal Legault, communications advisor to the Fédération de l’UPA de la Montérégie. Thus, in this video titled Together, develop agriculture, we learn that the region has nearly 7,000 farms, representing one-quarter of the agricultural production in Quebec.
As another action, “we have issued a letter to the media to raise awareness of the importance of agriculture,” continues Ms. Legault. Our 15 local unions have also requested a meeting with the candidates in the municipal elections. Some have obtained, others do not. “
Other regional federations and the local unions of the UPA elsewhere in Quebec have also undertaken actions. Have they been listened to and heard ? To follow.