After a season of uncertainty, Aylmer-based fruit and vegetable farmer Mark Wales is confident that he and his fellow farmers will be able to keep their businesses in the family.

The Department of Finance indicated last month that it would ditch proposed restrictions around converting income to capital gains. 

Many farmers protested on the basis that these changes would make intergenerational farm transfers prohibitively expensive.

"It would have been hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars cheaper to sell the farm [to someone] not related to you in any way," he said.

Wales said he's been in direct contact with the government through his work with the Canadian Horticultural Council, and is confident they won't reverse course on this issue.

Mark Wales

Mark Wales said he's confident that the federal government has listened to farmers' concerns around proposed tax changes. (Submitted/Ontario Federation of Agriculture)

Keeping farms in the family ensures that owners have 'skin in the game,' said Wales. "It's important for the future of food security, food safety and rural Canada."

He said other rural service providers like tractor dealerships and farm input suppliers also tend to transfer business ownership across generations.

Stuck in limbo

Farmers and other small businesses are waiting for further details around income sprinkling and passive investment income.

Second to intergenerational transfer, any changes around income sprinkling are crucial to farmers because they often compensate family members for atypical work arrangements, said Wales. 

He said it's important that the government recognizes work in the agricultural setting, which doesn't necessarily follow a nine to five schedule.

"Many farms don't have full-time employees, but they have key periods of planting and harvest where it's all hands on deck and you work around the clock against the window of weather or whatever it may be," he said.

Paula Duhatschek