Province Announces Incentive Program to Sell Agricultural Crown Land
Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart today announced a new incentive program to encourage the sale of eligible occupied agricultural Crown land. The program, which comes into effect immediately, offers purchase incentives on the sale of the land to current lease-holders.
“As a government, our priority is administering land that has a higher public good from an ecological, environmental, heritage or economic perspective,” Stewart said. "The government still owns a lot of land that does not serve these purposes. We want to sell eligible agriculture crown land to lessees.”
All agricultural Crown land including cultivated, grazing and hay land that is deemed to have no public and low environmental benefit will be eligible for the program. The Ministry of Agriculture estimates that approximately 600,000 acres of land will be sold under this program. From now until March 31, 2016, a 15 per cent discount will be applied to all sales. The incentive drops to 10 per cent on April 1, 2016 and five per cent on January 1, 2017.
This new incentive program is similar to the Agricultural Crown Land Sale Program that was in place from November 2008 through December of 2014, which sold more than 500,000 acres of Crown land.
If a lessee does not purchase the land, they may continue leasing. However, rental rates on cultivated lands and previously cultivated lands will increase for the 2016 cropping season by approximately 15 per cent over the formula rate and by 30 per cent over the formula rate for the 2017 cropping year.
"During our recent review of farmland ownership rules, a large majority of producers told us they opposed large institutions owning farmland,” Stewart said. “The provincial government is probably the largest institutional owner of farmland and owning farmland is not a business the government needs to be in.
“Our first priority for sale is cultivated lands as they are easily identifiable and the least likely to have any ecological or environmental value because they are already broken. This program allows Saskatchewan farmers and ranchers, individuals who have managed the land for the better part of a century, to purchase this land and realize the benefits of ownership.”
Land that is designated as having high ecological value under The Wildlife Habitat Protection Act (WHPA) is not eligible for sale and discounts will not be applied to land classified as having moderate ecological value. Lands classified as low are eligible for the incentive program. Sales associated with public tenders and Treaty Land Entitlement are not eligible for the program. Any parcel of land that has previously been determined as ineligible for purchase will remain as such.
Lessees interested in purchasing their leased agricultural Crown land can contact the Agriculture Knowledge Centre at 1-866-457-2377 or visit www.agriculture.gov.sk.ca/crown-land-sale.