The provincial government of Ontario, Canada, is refusing to rescind fines imposed on farmers for exceeding their authorized tobacco acreages, according to a story in the Ontario Farmer.
A spokesman for Ontario’s Ministry of Finance, Scott Blodgett was reported as having said that the ministry endeavored to treat taxpayers in a fair and transparent manner, adding that the growers could seek an impartial review by filing a notice of objection with the ministry’s advisory, objections, appeals and services branch.
Blodgett was responding to a letter from Toby Barrett, the member for the provincial parliament for Haldimand Norfolk.
Barrett is representing at least a dozen tobacco growers in Norfolk and Brant counties who are facing fines of C$2,500 (US$1,860) each for exceeding their authorized tobacco acreages.
In his letter, sent to Ontario’s Finance Minister Charles Sousa, Barrett urged the government to rescind the fines and work toward setting out a clear and concise policy that is followed each growing season and reinstating a clear and concise communication process with growers.
Blodgett was said to have noted that the Ontario Flue-Cured Tobacco Growers’ Marketing Board had been conducting crop cut-downs ‘earlier’, but that in January 2015, the ministry had assumed this responsibility.
He said that while there had been no crop cut-downs or fines assessed for excess acreage during the 2015 growing season, during the 2016 season there had been a high rate of non-compliance where registered producers had grown excess acreage.
He added that the ministry had had time to evaluate the information and decide the best course of action “to balance support for the industry and support for the legislation by addressing non-compliance”.