October 20, 2015 4:35 pm

Saskatchewan government moves to restrict farmland ownership

Government introduces legislation to restrict who can own farmland in Saskatchewan.

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The Saskatchewan government is moving to restrict farmland ownership in the province. Amendments introduced in the legislature Tuesday would make pension plans, administrators of pension fund assets and trust ineligible to buy farmland.

The amendments to The Saskatchewan Farm Security Act would also define “having an interest in farmland” to included any type of interest or benefit, either directly or indirectly, that is normally associated with owning land.

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Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart said the changes will clarify who can own farmland in the province based on feedback they received from a farmland ownership survey.

“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.”

An overwhelming majority who responded to the survey – 87 per cent – said they did not support foreign ownership of farmland, 75 per cent were opposed to investors purchasing farmland and 69 per cent said there should be no foreign financing.

Under the proposed amendments, all financing for the purchase of farmland will need to be done through a financial institution registered to do business in Canada, or a Canadian resident.

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New authority would also be given to the Farm Land Security Board to enforce the act, including increasing fines for being in breach of the legislation to $50,000 for individuals and $500,000 for corporations.

The FLSB could also, at its discretion, make any person buying farmland complete a statutory declaration.

It will also place the onus on the person purchasing the land to prove they are in compliance with the legislation.

The changes are expected to come into effect by the new year.

© 2015 Shaw Media

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