By Tom Collins
CREEMORE —A Jersey dairy farmer has declared a ceasefire with MPAC over the valuation of his processing plant.
Miller’s Dairy in Creemore, about 45 minutes west of Barrie, was charged six times more when his processing plant was zoned industrial instead of agricultural. The farm has industrial taxes of about $18,000 a year on a 6,000-sq.-ft. processing plant, instead of agricultural taxes of $2,000 to $3,000.
John Miller originally turned down MPAC’s offer to reduce the valuation of the plant by $200,000 but he recently decided to take the offer when he realized MPAC was digging in their heels and his legal fees were adding up.
Miller estimates that with the valuation of the plant dropping from $550,000 to $372,000, it will reduce his whopping $18,000 tax bill down to $12,500 per year.
He guesses he spent about $12,000 on a lawyer.
Miller says he is not happy with settling but plans to keep fighting for added-value designations of farms.
The minister of finance says the province will work with the Association of Municipalities and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture to create a fairer system for farms with value-added processing. They are expected to propose options to be possibly implemented in time for the 2017 taxation year.
“We’re not stopping the fight because we feel this is something all value-added farms should be concerned about,” says Miller. “You pick your battles, and you have to stay focused on what the war is all about. Sometimes you can’t win all your battles completely, but the eventual goal is we’re going to win the war.”