Saskatchewan government moves to limit farmland ownership

The Saskatchewan government is introducing legislative amendments to restrict the ownership of farmland. The proposed amendments include making pension plans, administrators of pension fund assets, and trusts ineligible to buy farmland. They also define “having an interest in farmland” to include any type of interest or benefit that is “normally associated” with owning land. The financing of a purchase of farmland must also be through a financial institution registered to do business in Canada, or a Canadian resident. Earlier this year, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) expressed concern about efforts to limit farmland investment in Saskatchewan.

PRESS RELEASE

Legislation for Farmland Ownership to be Introduced

Released on October 20, 2015

Today, Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart introduced amendments to The Saskatchewan Farm Security Act. The legislative amendments will clarify who can own farmland and will provide the Farm Land Security Board (FLSB) with more authority to enforce the Act.

“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.”

Legislative amendments to The Saskatchewan Farm Security Act will enshrine the regulations introduced in April as law.

Amendments including:
Making pension plans, administrators of pension fund assets and trusts not eligible 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 resident.

In addition, the FLSB will receive new and expanded authority to enforce the legislation, including:
At the discretion of the FLSB, any person purchasing farmland must complete a statutory declaration;
Placing the onus to prove compliance with the legislation onto the person purchasing the land;
Increasing fines for being in contravention of the legislation from $10,000 to $50,000 for individuals and from $100,000 to $500,000 for corporations; and
Authorizing the FLSB to impose administrative penalties to a maximum of $10,000.

“Our government understands that to many in the province, farmland is not just an asset,” Stewart said. “It is a connection to our history and who we are as people. Farmers and ranchers want the opportunity to own the land they farm.”

Through the consultations, the views of more than 3,200 individuals, businesses and organizations were heard. Overwhelmingly, the majority voiced support for making pensions and large investment trusts ineligible to purchase farmland, and limiting the ownership of farmland to Canadian residents and 100 per cent Canadian-owned corporations.

The complete results of the consultation are available at www.saskatchewan.ca/farmland.

Following passage of the legislation and regulations, the new rules are expected to come into effect by the new year.

For more information, contact:

Sarah Hein
Agriculture
Regina
Phone: 306-787-5389
Email: sarah.hein@gov.sk.ca
Cell: 306-527-9102

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock