The proposed bill exempts most manufacturing and industrial use of gas from the tax burden. This leaves commercial and small businesses and agricultural producers bearing a disproportionate share of the burden. Unfortunately, our small businesses and agricultural producers are the industries least able to afford this tax. Manufacturing businesses are exempt under the proposed bill due to the fact that they’re considered to be “energy-intensive” and “trade-exposed,” meaning that the burden of this tax would put them at a disadvantage in the marketplace.
The same holds true for farmers—they’re equally “trade-exposed” in the global marketplace. Profit margins for agricultural goods are already very small and commodity prices have recently reached record lows. Commodities growers, such as Washington’s wheat farmers, can’t pass the costs of a carbon tax on to consumers because commodity prices are set by the market. Our farmers simply can’t absorb the increased operating costs imposed by a carbon tax.
Everyone who serves the farm industry will be hit by these taxes and the end user, the farmer, will absorb them. Think about the fertilizer dealer, the implement dealer, the seed distributor, delivery transportation and shipping via truck, train or barge—each of these fuel-intensive activities will hit our farmers in the pocket book in the form of increased costs to produce foods. The costs of operating equipment on the farm, getting supplies from the farm store to the farm and then getting crops from the farm to the marketplace will make farming cost-prohibitive, especially for our small- to medium-sized family-owned farms.
The bottom line for the state is that these tax burdens put our farmers at a disadvantage in the global marketplace. They also take money off the table that our farmers could use for land and resource stewardship and implementing advanced, environmentally friendly farming practices. Our family farmers will face a reality where they simply can’t afford to farm.
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