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Saskatchewan to review farmland ownership rules

Apr. 13, 2015 - The government of Saskatchewan will hold further consultations and undertake a review of farmland ownership rules under The Saskatchewan Farm Security Act.

While the review of the Act is underway, regulations will be put in place to prohibit certain organizations, like pension plans and other institutional investors, from purchasing farmland in Saskatchewan. The Farm Land Security Board will still retain the ability to provide exemptions for economic development initiatives, such as those provided in the past for oil and gas development.

In a news release, Saskatchewan Agriculture minister Lyle Steward said the province's farmland is a strategic asset that should be owned by Canadians for the benefit of Canadians. "Our goal is not to limit investment, but to ensure the long-term success of Saskatchewan's agriculture industry and economy."

Stewart said the original intent of the Act was to limit ownership of Saskatchewan farmland to Canadian residents and 100 per cent Canadian-owned corporations. However, it did not explicitly define institutional investors such as pension plans, administrators of pension fund assets and trusts.

"Recently, the issue has arisen of whether institutional investors like pension plans should be able to purchase Saskatchewan farmland," Stewart said. "There are differing views on this matter, so we want to hear from producers and other interested Saskatchewan residents."

During the review of farmland ownership rules, the Farm Land Security Board will enforce the following regulations:

  • To further define pension plans, administrators of pension fund assets and trusts as not Canadian-owned entities.
  • A family trust with fewer than 10 Canadian individuals listed as beneficiaries will still be able to purchase farmland.
  • That having an interest in farmland is defined to include any type of interest or agreement, direct or indirect that results in any of the benefits (i.e. capital appreciation), either directly or indirectly, of owning of the land.
  • When financed, farmland purchases must be through a financial institution registered to do business in Canada, or a Canadian resident.

Further details of the consultation process will be announced later this spring. It is expected to include the opportunity for interested groups and individuals to submit their views online, as was done with the recent public consultation on the future of liquor retailing in Saskatchewan, which received responses from more than 6,600 Saskatchewan residents.