Let Man. farmers “shop around” for diesel: NFU

Manitoba farmers who buy tax-exempt marked diesel in bulk may be paying more than if they were allowed to apply their exemption at retail pumps, the National Farmers Union reports.

The NFU on Thursday called for the provincial government to allow farmers to take advantage of the lower prices at retail outlets selling diesel fuel.

NFU Manitoba co-ordinator Fred Tait cited an “informal survey” of pump prices at several stations around Winnipeg and Portage la Prairie in the last week of April, which found a range of 70 to 81.9 cents per litre.

According to Tait, the prices at farm fuel bulk dealers, which are supposed to deduct provincial fuel tax of about 11.5 cents per litre, ranged between 64.88 and 71.6 cents per litre.

“If the 11.5 cents per litre deduction was incorporated into the retail fuel price for diesel, those prices would be in the range between 58.5 cents per litre and 70.4 cents per litre,” said Tait, who farms at Rossendale, about 30 km southwest of Portage la Prairie. “That’s a big discrepancy.”

The province, he said, “should allow farmers the option to purchase regular transportation diesel fuel at retail suppliers and then apply for a refund of the provincial fuel tax as part of their Manitoba income tax schedule.”

Farmers, for whom a per-litre price difference of just a few cents on diesel can translate to thousands of dollars in increased input costs, could thus “shop around” to reduce their costs, “while ensuring that the system remains fair and honest,” Tait said.

Such a change, he said, “would also have the beneficial effect of increasing the level of competition in pricing of farm diesel fuel among suppliers, and prevent excessive profit-taking by companies at the expense of farm operators.”

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