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Greenhouses getting much-anticipated break on carbon tax

B.C.’s carbon tax will be permanently reduced for B.C. greenhouses by 80%.
Arie Van der Giessen, regional facility manager for Village Farms' new Texas greenhouse

B.C.’s carbon tax will be permanently reduced for B.C. greenhouses by 80%.

The tax relief measure was announced in the 2013 budget, but the measure was highlighted Tuesday during a visit by Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick and Finance Minister Mike de Jong to the Burnaby Lake Greenhouses in Surrey.

As reported in Business in Vancouver last year,innovative greenhouse operators in B.C. have been investing in new high-tech greenhouses in the U.S. and deliberately avoided building similar operations in B.C. due, in part, to B.C.’s carbon tax.

Because plants need CO2, a greenhouse gas, greenhouses burn fuels such as natural gas to produce the CO2.

Even though the CO2 gets absorbed by their plants, the greenhouse operators in B.C. have been paying the carbon tax to the tune of millions of dollars.

Village Farms’ annual carbon tax bill was $500,000, despite the fact it burns landfill gas that would otherwise simply be flared.

Last year, the B.C. government announced greenhouses would get a one-year exemption on the tax, but in the 2013 budget, it was permanently reduced by 80% for fuels burned by greenhouses for heating and CO2 production.

“Providing relief to the greenhouse sector recognizes that although it is not the only industry with competitiveness challenges, greenhouse growers are distinct from most others in that they need carbon dioxide and purposely produce it because it is essential for plant growth,” de Jong said.

“Maintaining the affordability and competitiveness of locally produced agricultural products is essential.”

The government also plans to introduce legislation to provide some exemptions for farmers.

Combined, the carbon tax relief for farmers and greenhouse operators would amount to $11 million, the government said.

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