The Saskatchewan government's plans for a record-high budget on crop insurance in 2013 are expected to be offset with lower provincial spending on other federal/provincial business risk management (BRM) programs.
The province on Wednesday announced a total budget of $406.9 million for its agriculture department in 2013-14, including $198.3 million for crop insurance (up $21.2 million from the previous year), $28.7 million for AgriStability (down $52.5 million) and $32.4 million for AgriInvest (down $10.2 million) under the five-year federal/provincial Growing Forward 2 ag policy funding framework, which begins this year.
Further details of Growing Forward 2 programming will be announced next month, the province noted.
Wednesday's budget also pledges an "increased commitment to research and innovation" with a record $27.7 million ag research budget that includes a $3 million investment in the Global Institute for Food Security. The province has pledged $15 million over seven years to the institute, set up jointly in December by the province, University of Saskatchewan and PotashCorp.
The ag ministry expects to provide $71.2 million for "strategic initiatives" through Growing Forward 2, up $25 million over the previous (GF1) framework. On top of research, the province said, funding will be targeted to areas such as rural water infrastructure, trade and market development and farm business management.
Other ag line items in the budget include $1 million for irrigation bridge rehabilitation on municipal roads.
"Investments in areas such as research and market development will help us reach our goals of increasing crop production by 10 million tonnes and agriculture exports by 50 per cent, as well as establishing Saskatchewan as a global leader in biosciences," Ag Minister Lyle Stewart said in a release Wednesday.
Overall, Finance Minister Ken Krawetz's budget calls for $11.54 billion in expenses on $11.61 billion in revenues in this fiscal year.
The budget assumes continued strong agricultural prices in 2013, with total crop production of 28 million tonnes this year and a growing season that "will not be affected by adverse weather conditions," noting a 16.5 per cent cut in expected canola production in 2012, for example, due to hail and other weather issues.
The budget also assumes improved potash production of 10.3 million tonnes and an average potash price of $645.43 per tonne in 2013, as well as West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil averaging US$92.50 per barrel.
The province announced a cut of 0.25 percentage points effective April 1 for its Saskatchewan Resource Credit (SRC), a credit against Crown royalties and production taxes otherwise payable on the production of oil, natural gas, potash, uranium and coal in the province. The current SRC rate for potash is one per cent of the value of sales.
The province's sin taxes will also rise this year, with the tobacco tax rate effective midnight Wednesday night at 25 cents per cigarette or gram of tobacco, up from 21. The Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority's mark-up rates for all beverage categories will see an upward adjustment of about three per cent effective April 1.
The province on Wednesday also noted it won't impose an increase on its education property tax in 2013. To offset the 67 per cent increase in overall property values as a result of the province's growing economy and reassessment, the government said it will lower education property tax mill rates so education property tax mill rates remain "revenue neutral with respect to the 2013 reassessment."
Education property tax mill rates will thus be cut to 2.67 mills for agricultural land and 5.03 mills for residential properties. The mill rates will be lowered to 8.28 mills for commercial/industrial businesses and to 11.04 mills for a new "resources" class.
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