Changes to Saskatchewan Farmland Ownership Rules Introduced

Photo: Debra Murphy, 2013

After seeking input through the summer, Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart has introduced amendments to The Saskatchewan Farm Security Act that will further restrict who can buy farmland and give the Farm Land Security Board more power to enforce the legislation.

A survey of more than 3,200 people showed 87 percent not supporting foreign ownership, and 75 percent opposed to allowing investors such as Canadian pension funds to buy land.

Under the proposed changes, pension plans, administrators of pension fund assets and trusts would not be eligible to purchase farmland. The amendments would also define “having an interest in farmland”  to include any type of interest or benefit (i.e. capital appreciation), either directly or indirectly, that is normally associated with ownership of the land. All financing for purchasing land would have to be with a financial institution registered to do business in Canada, or a Canadian resident.

The FLSB would also receive expanded authority, including the ability to require any person purchasing farmland to make a statutory declaration, placing the onus for proving compliance on the person buying the land.

Fines for violating the farmland legislation would be raised from $10,000 to $50,000 for individuals and from $100,000 to $500,000 for corporations.

“This summer, we asked the people of Saskatchewan to share their views to help us inform our decision on farmland ownership,” Stewart said. “They did, and as a result we are making changes that will keep farmland accessible to Saskatchewan’s farmers and ranchers. I am pleased to announce that we are clarifying the rules around farmland ownership in the province.”

The news release from the province says the new legislation and regulations are expected to be in place by the new year.

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