New Laws for Farmland Ownership Proclaimed
Amendments to The Saskatchewan Farm Security Act, clarifying who can and cannot own farmland in Saskatchewan, have been proclaimed and will come into effect on January 4, 2016.
“The people of Saskatchewan provided very clear direction during the consultation process,” Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart said. “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.”
The amendments 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.
Non-Canadian citizens can still own up to 10 acres of farmland, and exemptions can still be granted for economic development initiatives. These rules were in place previously and will not change.
In addition, the Farm Land Security Board (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 on 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.
The amendments put into law the regulations announced in April.
The Ministry of Agriculture conducted consultations on farmland ownership from May 20 through to August 10, with more than 3,200 people participating.