British Columbia

Province waives income requirements for farmers, ensuring none face tax hike due to pandemic

Farmers in B.C. struggling financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic can breathe a small sigh of relief as the province has waived its minimum income requirements this year.

Landowners would face a costly property tax increase if they lost farm status

Farmers, such as the owner of this property near Chilliwack, must meet certain criteria in B.C. to have their properties classified as a farm. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Farmers in B.C. struggling financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic can breathe a small sigh of relief as the province has waived its minimum income requirements this year.

Farmers must meet certain criteria in B.C. to have their properties classified as a farm. One of those requirements is generating a minimum amount of gross income based on the size of their land every two years.

If not, landowners could be at risk of losing their farm status.

It would be a costly reclassification, as farm status lowers property taxes due to the land being assessed at a lower value than residential, commercial or industrial.

"Our government is committed to helping farmers farm, and we are working to create a strong and resilient food system," said Lana Popham, minister of agriculture, in a release.

The minister says the pandemic has made it a difficult year for some B.C. farm operations, especially those whose revenues rely on tourist traffic, as well as roadside stands and farmers markets.

She says several farms would have lost their status this year, which would "significantly increase the property tax burden on those farmers and farm families."

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