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Get Informed

Farmland values in Saskatchewan have increased rapidly over the last few years, making farmland an attractive investment. Farmers are looking to grow, innovate, become more efficient and better manage risk. Some Canadian pension plans, as well as other investors, have expressed interest in holding Saskatchewan farmland as an investment in their portfolios and partnering with individual producers.

This increased interest from institutional and out-of-province farmland investors has resulted in public discussion about the current farm ownership provisions, compliance with The Saskatchewan Farm Security Act, and the province’s ability to monitor and consistently enforce the rules. Some stakeholders have also raised concern about Canadians owning farmland on behalf of non-Canadians through loans, mortgages, or other types of agreements.

Because there are differing views on this matter, the Government of Saskatchewan is holding consultations and undertaking a review of farmland ownership rules under the Act. The Government wants to hear from farmers and ranchers, Canadian investors and other interested Saskatchewan residents and businesses.

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1. History

Prior to 1974, Saskatchewan had no restrictions on who could own farmland. At that time, most of the land was owned by owner operators, retired farmers, and relatives of farmers or residents in the local community.

The passage of The Saskatchewan Farm Ownership Act in 1974 prohibited non-Saskatchewan residents from owning land. The 1974 ownership provisions were based on the idea that the Saskatchewan residents involved in day-to-day agricultural operations and who spend a major part of their time and agricultural income in the province should control agricultural resources.

In 1988, The Saskatchewan Farm Security Act combined the home quarter protection provisions (originated in the 1930s), farm ownership rules (The Saskatchewan Farm Ownership Act 1974), and the revised farm foreclosure process (1988) into one piece of legislation.

In 2002, amendments modernized The Saskatchewan Farm Security Act and more closely aligned Saskatchewan’s rules with those of Alberta and Manitoba. The changes removed the distinction between Saskatchewan and other Canadian residents as well as other Canadian corporations acquiring land for agricultural or related value-added activity.

History of Farmland Ownership Timeline
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2. Farmland Transaction Statistics

  • Amount of land owned by pension plans or administrators of pension plans as of March 2015: 140,000 acres.
  • Total transactions (arm’s-length sales and transfers) for fiscal 2013-14: 31,540 transfers for 4.92 million acres.
  • Based on a three-month sample period (March 2014, November 2014, March 2015), 80 per cent of farmland sales are between farmers.

Saskatchewan Percentage Change in Farmland Values

National Percentage Change in Farmland Values.

In the past, Saskatchewan farmland values have lagged behind other neighbouring jurisdictions like Manitoba and Alberta.  In recent years, land prices in the province have begun to rise quickly for a number of reasons, most notably:

  • Strong commodity prices.
  • Improvements in farm profitability as measured by net farm income.
  • A trend of historically low interest rates and relatively favourable lending terms. 

Farmland in Saskatchewan 

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3. Current Rules for Ownership

  • Non-Canadians and non-100-per-cent Canadian owned entities can own no more than 10 acres of farmland in Saskatchewan.
  • The Saskatchewan Farm Land Security Board can grant exemptions.
  • Pension plans and investment trusts cannot own farmland in Saskatchewan.

Learn more about the Farm Land Security Board.

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4. Considerations Around Pensions Plans and Large Investment Trusts

Only Canadian residents and 100 percent Canadian-owned entities are allowed to own more than 10 acres of Saskatchewan farmland. The Saskatchewan Farm Security Act, last updated in 2002, provides the definition of “Canadian-owned entity.” The list includes corporations, partnerships, syndicates, joint ventures, co-operatives, or associations, provided that all memberships, shares or interests are held by Canadian residents or Canadian-owned entities that aren’t publicly traded.

The Act’s definition of a Canadian-owned entity does not include pension plans or investment trusts, which is why those entities have been ineligible to own more than 10 acres of farmland in Saskatchewan. The exception has been the Canada Pension Plan, because the assets of that plan are held and managed by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) and CPPIB is deemed to be a qualified Canadian-owned entity under the Act.

In recent years, there has been much greater interest in Saskatchewan farmland, including interest from pension funds. As a result, the Government wants to examine whether the current definition of Canadian-owned entity is the appropriate one.

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5. Land Ownership Rules in Other Canadian Provinces

Alberta

  • Non-Canadians and foreign-controlled-entities can own no more than 20 acres of agricultural land.
  • Alberta Government can grant exemptions.
  • An entity needs to be majority-owned by Canadians (versus wholly owned) to be considered Canadian.
  • Canadian pension plans have purchased farmland in Alberta.

British Columbia

  • No restrictions on foreign ownership.

Manitoba

  • Non-Canadians and non-100-per-cent-owned Canadian entities can own no more than 40 acres of farmland.
  • Manitoba Farm Lands Ownership Board can grant exemptions.
  • Pension plans cannot purchase farmland in Manitoba.

Ontario

  • No restrictions on foreign ownership.

Prince Edward Island

  • Non-PEI residents can own no more than five acres.
  • Farm size is limited to 1,000 acres for individuals and 3,000 acres for corporations.

Quebec

  • Non-Quebec residents must seek authorization from the Commission de protection du territoire agricole du Québec to acquire more than 10 acres of farmland.
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6. Farmland Ownership Education Document

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