The highly anticipated amendments to The Saskatchewan Farm Security Act will come into effect January 4, 2016.
“The people of Saskatchewan provided very clear direction during the consultation process,” Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart said in a release. “The legislation reflects the views of Saskatchewan residents, provides clarity around farmland ownership and gives the Farm Land Security Board the tools it needs to enforce the rules.”
Amendments to the legislation, as outlined by the government release, will include:
- Making pension plans, administrators of pension fund assets and larger trusts ineligible to buy farmland;
- Defining “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; and
- When financing a purchase of farmland, all financing must be through a financial institution registered to do business in Canada, or a Canadian citizen.
The Farm Land Security Board (FLSB) will also see changes to its legislative authority, including the ability to request a statutory declaration from anyone purchasing farmland. The onus of proving compliance with the law will be placed on the person purchasing the land. In addition, fines for being in contravention of the legislation will increase from $10,000 to $50,000 for individuals and $100,000 to $500,000 for corporations, with the FLSB authorized to impose administrative penalties up to $10,000.
The amendments were made in response to consultations with the public through a farmland ownership review this summer. The majority of of more than 3200 respondents were opposed to pension plan and foreign ownership.